Undergraduate student majoring in professional science with a minor in chemistry.
Striving & Thriving at VCU talks to Angela about why she is pursuing a career in pharmacy, strategies to foster relationships with faculty, and more.
An interview with Angela
What is it about pharmacy that excites you?
My parents are both in the medical field. My dad used to be a respiratory therapist and my mom studied in Panama to become an orthopedic nurse, but she didn't get a degree just a certificate. So, I knew in my heart as a kid that I wanted to go into the medical field. I chose pharmacy because I can still help people but in different ways. At first, I really didn't know all about what a career in pharmacy entailed because everybody always assumes they just give out the medications at a drugstore or at a store. But last year I took an intro to pharmacy class, which exposed me to the different careers that are possible within the field.
What advice do you give to students that are considering pharmacy as a career option?
I would suggest they participate in the Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAEP). In that program you not only learn about different careers like pharmacy but you also take three non-graded classes that are graduate level. So, you get graduate level anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry (or pharmacology). Taking those courses gave me an idea of what it’s going to be like in pharmacy school and how to manage your time. It also teaches you how to take care of yourself in general and give yourself breaks. During the program they gave us a paint by numbers to do. That was so cool because I never thought paining would relax me until I did the program.
What strategies do you recommend to foster relationships with faculty?
It's honestly not as bad as it seems. You just send out an email and they're really good about answering back. They're so excited to talk to you because they know you're interested in their field and they want you to come to their program. So just do it! The worst thing that they can say is no, I’m sorry I can't speak to you right now. You just have to keep asking and asking different people, and one of them is bound to talk to you because this is what they love. And if they know that you want to be a part of their field, they will want to talk to you and tell you more about it so you can succeed in the future and maybe be in one of their classes one day. For example, during the Summer Academic Enrichment Program (SAEP) all the pharmacy students got on a Zoom call with the Dean of the VCU School of Pharmacy. It was only twelve of us so he got to meet each one of us and see our faces. Afterwards he was more than happy to answer any of our emails, which is surprising because as a Dean of the school, you think he'd be the busiest person or the last person to reply to emails. It was so cool to see him engage with us.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about helping others. This can be a good thing and bad thing. Sometimes I help others when I need help myself and I will just help them and never take care of myself, which I learning how not to do. It's okay for me to take time for myself or a day off to go shopping on my own without worrying about anybody else. But I think it helps me with this career because I know that I want the best for others because I want to be treated the way that I would treat them. If I want the best health care, why wouldn't patients want the best health care? Why wouldn't patients want to save a little bit of money on some medications rather than giving them the most expensive one?
1) iPhone or Android?
2) Window or aisle seat?
3) What is your biggest strength?
Organization/ being detailed oriented
4) What is a cause that is important to you?
5) Biology or chemistry?
Chemistry all the way.
6) Did you enjoy taking organic chemistry?
7) What is the most adventurous thing you have done in your life?
I went to Seattle for the first time with my brother and we didn't have our parents.
8) What did you want to do with your life at age 12?
I wanted to become an astronaut.
9) What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Yogurt, granola, and honey.
10) What do you usually eat for dinner?
Arroz con pollo.
11) What is the cutest thing on planet earth?
12) What about pharmacy are you most interested in?
I'm interested in getting to know what each pharmacy path entails. I don't have a specialization yet, but being able to see what each entails and learning about what's so different about each is what I'm really excited for.
13) When you are on this campus, where do you prefer to study?
14) Where do you prefer to study when you are at home?
I hate studying at home but if I do I'll do it in my room because I can close the door and have nobody bothering me.
15) Who is someone in STEM that you look up to the most?
Different people. I look up to Elizabeth, who was the pharmacy TA from the SAEP. I talked to her so many times and asked her how she's doing in pharmacy. I look up to Stacey and Jen from the VCU Latinx Student Association. Seeing Stacey go to Harvard and Jen go to Georgetown is so cool because I went to school with them.
16) Describe your personality using a sound.
It would just be laughter.
17) What has been one of your most memorable moments in your undergraduate career?
So at the end of the SAEP there's a commencement celebration and during that I won the top track performer for pharmacy, which came with a $50,000 scholarship for pharmacy school.
18) What is your zodiac sign?
19) What does it mean to be a student in STEM?
To me, it means that I can show future generations that being Hispanic and being a person of color doesn't stop you from completing your dreams. There are so many opportunities out there, so many scholarships and different ways to fund your education so that you can do it. I want them to know that they can do it. I want my future children to know that they can do it too.
20) How do you enjoy spending time with your friends?
Because I'm on a budget I just like going hiking, maybe get a little snack. Finding different little adventures that don't cost too much. I recently went out with my friends and we just walked around taking pictures. I don't like being at home. I like to go out and do stuff.
21) How many languages do you speak?
I speak two.
22) What is one of your favorite stress relievers?
23) What clubs where you involved in during undergrad?
Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), Latinx Students Association (LSA), Pre-Pharmacy Student Organization
24) Where do you see yourself in five years?
Graduating from pharmacy school.
25) Do you think your past self from five years ago would look up to you now?
Yeah. Little me was not open to things like doing this interview. I would have said no in an instance. I would not have gotten the courage to even sit in my room with the camera on, talking to people, reaching out to teachers, etc. Making friends was always hard for me. Coming to college, it was like, oh, my gosh going to College is going to be so much fun you can make all these lifelong friends. You could do that right now. You don't have to wait. My past self would totally look up to me now.