Doctor of Pharmacy Graduates’ Future Plans

The graduates from the doctor of pharmacy Class of 2016 are pursuing a wide variety of exciting opportunities ­­- from a fellowship at the preeminent pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly to a residency at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. As Commencement approaches we asked them to take a moment and reflect on their time at Pacific and their path ahead.


Utsav Patel ’16 has been matched with a Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) managed care residency at Kaiser Permanente Central Valley in Stockton. I am looking forward to continuing to develop my skills in the field of managed care, as well as add on to my clinical knowledge as I rotate through the ambulatory care rotations offered in this program,” shares Patel. The connections that he made while at Pacific were influential in leading him to this residency. He explains, “I was able to speak with managed care pharmacists that I had connected with when I was a student. They were able to offer me great advice for the different managed care programs available in California.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. James Uchizono. I have known him since my time as an undergraduate and as such he has had a great impact on me professionally and personally. We would meet occasionally and talk about everything ranging from school to personal life and he would always have great advice, which pushed me to aim higher in everything I pursued.”

Professional goals: “I hope to design and implement a clinical program related to mental health that can be widely adopted.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “My time spent in the Medicare Part D elective, especially during outreach season. Being able to go out into the community and practice what we have learned through the Medication Therapy Management interventions and also helping the beneficiaries cut down on their prescription drug costs.”


Saranpreet Nagra ’16 has been matched with a visiting scientist fellowship in the Clinical Innovation Department at Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana. “I am looking forward to being immersed in a company and environment which fosters innovation,” shares Nagra. “Eli Lilly, and specifically their innovation department, is very well known for being very forward-thinking and being open to pursue ‘long-shot’ ideas.” He adds, ” I was able to learn about this specific fellowship position through references from recent alumni and peers.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “I’ve been extremely lucky during my short time here to have multiple mentors, both faculty and alumni, who were willing to go above and beyond to help me reach my potential. One of my mentors, Dr. Sachin Shah, has always been willing to do whatever possible to help me reach my goals and has served as an amazing guide in helping me to navigate the opaque process of applying to fellowships.”

Professional goals: “The biggest thing I hope to contribute to the profession of pharmacy is the idea that the value of the PharmD is far reaching and can supersede the traditional roles in the pharmacy.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “One of my favorite memories during my time at Pacific was our chapter’s APhA-ASP Operation Immunization winning National First Runner Up at the APhA 2016 Annual Meeting and Exposition. It was amazing to see our team and university get some national spotlight for the countless hours our committee put in to help make our communities healthier through direct patient care and education.”


Martina L. Rigmaiden ’16 has been matched with PGY1 pediatric pharmacy residency at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, California.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Joel Wagner has been my constant support system throughout my time at Pacific.”

Professional goals: “I hope to bring awareness to the pediatric population and continue to be an advocate for health-system pharmacy and those who wish to pursue a residency to grasp the inpatient clinical aspect of pharmacy.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “When a professor came up to me and said, ‘I can’t believe your performance on the final exam.’ [I was terrified, but] the professor revealed that out of the whole final exam I had only missed half of a point. It was very rewarding to know that all the hours, sleepless nights and office hours consulting with my professor paid off and I completely grasped the concept.”


Sophie Hoang ’16 has been matched with a medical affairs fellowship at Novo Nordisk in Plainsboro, New Jersey. “I look forward to learning about the pharmaceutical industry and how new products are launched to create a global impact,” said Hoang. “Participating in various projects, organizations and committees have helped me to create long-lasting relationships with professors and mentors. Not only have they recommended me to potential employers, but also supported and guided me along the way.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Ed Sherman served as the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) advisor during my time as president of the NCPA Pacific Chapter. He opened my eyes to the world of independent pharmacy and encouraged me to participate in the NCPA Student Business Plan Competition.”

Professional goals: “I hope to create a global impact through the launch of new medications, better access to care in rural communities and to ultimately improve patient outcomes across the world.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “One of my proudest moments was planning the Alternative and Integrative Medicine Committee Health Fair in collaboration with the Tzu Chi Foundation.”


Tinh An “April” Nguyen ’16 will be the inaugural fellow of the global regulatory program at Biogen in Boston, Massachusetts. She has also been offered an adjunct position at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “I can’t wait to face so many new amazing opportunities, apply what I’ve learned from the California Pharmacists Association to the Massachusetts Pharmacists Association, make a difference and expand Pacific’s legacy!” exclaims Nguyen.

Professor who had a profound impact: “I was a research coordinator with Dr. Sachin Shah for a study on energy drinks and their cardiovascular safety, which was recognized nationally and internationally across multiple news media, including CBS, NPR, UK Daily Mail and Times of India. I’ve been fortunate to work with a mentor who built my foundation of technical skills in the pharmaceutical industry and cardiovascular clinical research.”

Professional goals: “I want to continue to make a difference in the lives of the patients we serve and be an advocate for the profession of pharmacy.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “Staffing the inaugural Rx Boot Camp with students from 12 schools of pharmacy across California inspired me to become the 2016 Rx Boot Camp Director in the state’s first student-led pharmacy conference, which is focused on collaborative practice and communication. I also have fond memories of organizing the first APhA-ASP Health Fair at the Midtown Farmers Market which provided services to 400 community members in Hmong, Spanish and Vietnamese.”


James Wall ’16 has been matched with a clinical operations oncology fellowship at Roche Group in San Francisco. In addition, he has been offered an adjunct faculty position at Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. “I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge in the area of oncology,” said Wall. “This opportunity will allow me to pursue my interests in oncology therapeutics while simultaneously allowing me to contribute to the development of novel treatments.” He adds, “I would not have this opportunity without the guidance and support of the faculty at University of the Pacific.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Marcus Ravnan [’94] had a significant impact on my development as a pharmacist. I thoroughly enjoyed his therapeutics courses due to his unique style of teaching. His residency/fellowship elective course should be considered by any student with the desire to pursue post-graduate training. Dr. Ravnan continued to make himself available as a mentor during my clinical rotations.”

Professional goals: “Over the past few decades the pharmacy profession has changed dramatically, expanding to include more clinical functions. I would like to continue this expansion and enhance the pharmacist’s role in both the acute healthcare environment and the general medical community.”



Speech-Language Pathology Graduates’ Future Plans

Equipped with a master of science in speech-language pathology our graduates are pursuing careers all across the United States. As Commencement approaches we asked them to take a moment and reflect on their time at Pacific and their path ahead.


Kimberly Kamada ’15 is currently working as a clinical fellow in speech pathology at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. “I was placed at Eisenhower Medical Center for my medical student externship through Pacific,” shares Kamada. “After my externship was over, I was offered a job at the hospital. I’m looking forward to learning more about my profession and role as a speech therapist in a hospital setting. I look forward to impacting lives of patients and their family members, as well as being impacted by them.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “One clinical supervisor that stood out to me was Mimi Tran [’04, ’05]. Mimi supervised me at the adult clinic and after each session she gave me great feedback. She was always available for questions and encouraging with advice for sessions.”

Professional goals: “I want to give my patients the best care I can and make a lasting difference in their lives.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “All of the clients at the adult clinic came together for a social during the last session to celebrate the end of clinic. Patients with various communication disorders were able to gather and carry over their communication skills to real life situations. I had a patient with severe expressive and receptive aphasia at the time and being able to see her enjoy herself in a social situation where communication is important was amazing.”


Brooke Richardson ’15 is currently working as a speech-language pathologist at Manteca Unified School District and Beyond Words Intervention Services in Stockton.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Many different professors have been encouraging in my endeavors to pursue this career.”

Professional goals: “I hope to further the field of speech-language pathology by contributing further research in communication disorders as well as providing education and awareness about communication disorders.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “Every year at the department Christmas party our professors would dress up and perform for the students. Definitely a highlight of the Christmas season for me!”


Meet Our Graduates

It is the season of tassels and mortarboards. Representing the disciplines of pharmacy, speech-language pathology and physical therapy almost 300 graduates will have their degrees conferred at the Commencement Ceremony on May 21, 2016. A few of our graduates share their plans after graduation and what memories will stand out to them when they look back at their time at Pacific.


Renée C. Fini ’15, DPT accepted a position as a physical therapist at Fritter, Schulz & Zollinger Physical and Occupational Therapy, a private outpatient clinic in Gilroy, California. “I am excited to be able to enhance my manual skills with the orthopedic population along with the ability to fine tune my aquatic therapy skills,” said Fini. “I was lucky enough to be chosen [for an internship at this clinic] and I had a great connection with the clinic director during my rotation. I applied for a position that opened up recently and was hired to join the team.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Hands down, Dr. Jim Mansoor! Dr. Mansoor really took me under his wing and advised me in a way that I really understood; a ‘tell it like it is,’ down-to-earth approach. I will always be grateful for his time and effort given during office hours to help me understand concepts that I struggled with.”

Professional goals: “I don’t want to just ‘help people,’ but I would rather ‘help change peoples lives.’ I look forward to someday working with individuals who struggle with movement on an everyday basis due to disease or pathology. I would also like to travel to underserved countries and contribute my services for those who cannot afford care.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I cherish all of the great friends I made in the DPT program at Pacific. The bond we shared is unlike any other college experience I have had before. We understood the challenges of being in an accelerated program and encouraged each other to keep pushing forward to do our best. I will always remember the challenges, but will remember the friendships even more.”


Andrew Bagdasarian ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist at Golden Bear Physical Therapy and Sports Injury Center in Modesto, California. “I am looking forward to broadening my knowledge base by treating a variety of patient populations [and] improving my treatment approach of an athletic population, ranging from high school to professional athletes,” shares Bagdasarian. The connections he made through Pacific were instrumental in leading to this opportunity. He explains, “Not only did I complete a clinical experience through Golden Bear while at Pacific, I also had chances to meet the clinic owners, Bobby [Ismail ’94] and Brandon [Nan ’09], when they participated in the Physical Therapy Employer Showcase and 5K Tiger Dash our program puts on.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Many professors impacted me in multiple ways throughout my education at Pacific. It would not do them justice to single one out above the rest as I appreciate all of their respective efforts.”

Professional goals: “Hopefully I contribute [to the profession as] a thoughtful, well-rounded clinician who is always searching to better himself and his treatment approach. Specifically, I would like to expand on evidence-based return-to-sport testing to improve decision making about appropriateness and safety of athletes returning to their respective sports.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “One of the highlights was traveling to Indianapolis to attend the Combined Sections Meeting, our national physical therapy conference; getting to spend time learning from the presentations and exploring the city with a great group of classmates. Also, a memory I’ll never forget was being able to complete a clinical rotation with the San Francisco Giants, the baseball team I’ve grown up being a fan of since I was young.”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their doctor of physical therapy degree > 


Tiffany A. Riley ’16 has been matched with a Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) pharmacy practice residency at VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. “I’m deeply humbled with the opportunity to serve our nation’s veterans,” shares Riley. “Growing up, both of my grandfathers were veterans and I remember being in awe of their stories of bravery and sacrifice. I look forward to serving this unique and truly inspiring patient population.” She adds, “I had the first-hand experience of rotating through various institutions in the Palo Alto region, such as the VA and Stanford. Being in this clinical world among highly skilled practitioners opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could do after graduation.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “My journey at Pacific began as a pre-pharmacy student and my advisor, Dr. James Uchizono, became a mentor over the years. As I advanced to pharmacy school, Dr. Uchizono, alongside Kimberly Eayrs and Kim Whitesides, were always welcoming to share advice and encouragement. I know that as I progress on in my career as a clinical pharmacist I will still be in contact with them. The professors at Pacific are more than just teachers, they are life-long mentors who truly value their students’ professional and personal development.”Professional goals: “With a genuine passion for helping those in need, I hope to provide more than just medication related recommendations for my patients. I intend to inspire future generations of pharmacists by precepting pharmacy students, form relationships with a variety of providers by contributing to an interdisciplinary team and stretch the boundaries of the profession in this exciting era of pharmacy practice.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I’m eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to be a member of the California Pharmacy Student Leadership (CAPSLEAD) team. Upon initiation of our team’s research project, we attended the annual CAPSLEAD conference. Attending this conference and working with the CAPSLEAD advisors, Dr. Don Floriddia [’71], Dr. Denis Meerdink and Dr. Veronica Bandy [’00, ’08], throughout the course of the year sparked in me a deeper interest in leadership development.”


Hasna Manghi ’16 has been matched with a Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) residency in academia through Touro University and NorthBay Healthcare in Fairfield, California. “I am looking forward to letting the knowledge I’ve gained thus far come full circle,” shares Manghi.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Rajul Patel [’01, ’06] has made such an immense impact on my life. The span of his influence encompasses my didactic work, my motivation during APPE rotations and my ambitions as a future pharmacist, as well as the qualities of integrity, positive attitude and a true work ethic.”

Professional goals: “I hope to contribute a positive attitude. I want to take the apathy out of pharmacy practice and encourage a zealous mindset for this profession.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I have many great memories at Pacific, but the best was of the time spent with Drs. Nancy [’89] and Gary [’89] DeGuire in their cabin in the woods with my close group of friends. It was truly an unforgettable weekend!”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their doctor of pharmacy degree >


Karen Soltow ’15 is currently a clinical fellow at Shoreline Speech and Language Center, a private speech-language pathology clinic in Hermosa Beach, California. “The clinic I am working at had heard great things about the graduates of University of the Pacific, so they emailed our department to advertise their job opening,” shares Soltow. “I emailed them right away and I am so happy I did!”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Derek Isetti [’08] has been a prominent support system for me as I transitioned from my post-baccalaureate studies into my masters program. I first met Dr. Isetti while studying at University of Washington and had the privilege to continue learning from him here at University of the Pacific. His office door was always open and he always greeted everyone with a smile. It was clear that he was passionate about our field and eager to support all of those in it.”

Professional goals: “My goal is to foster a community where therapists are continually collaborating and sharing ideas in order to meet the needs of all of our clients. I hope to never lose sight of the fact that I will forever be a student in this field as there is always more to learn!”

Favorite Pacific memory: “To me, University of the Pacific was all about the people. My cohort and professors were always there for me. Whether we were meeting to collaborate on our studies or clinical work, or to enjoy some good food or sunshine, we were always there to support each other. I will never forget the people I met while at Pacific.”


Yvette Young ’15 is currently working as a speech-language pathologist at Manteca Unified School District and Beyond Words Intervention Services in Stockton. She welcomes the variety of patients she has the opportunity to work with. “I’m looking forward to helping people in all stages of life communicate,” said Young. She adds, “Both of my positions were obtained due to professional connections made during my time at University of the Pacific.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Professor Simalee Smith-Stubblefield [’83] supported me from freshman year all the way through graduate school. She always makes it clear to her students how much she cares and that they can come to her for guidance and encouragement. My supervisors on my medical externship at UC Davis Medical Center also changed my clinical and life perspective in such meaningful ways. I’m thankful for Simalee and other Pacific speech-language pathology department staff who worked diligently to place students in wonderful medical externships.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “When I reflect on my time at University of the Pacific I’m flooded with memories of people who encouraged me. All of my professors created an environment in which students could grow into informed, caring, flexible and supported speech-language pathologists.”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their master of science in speech-language pathology degree >



Doctor of Physical Therapy Graduates’ Future Plans

The graduates from the doctor of physical therapy Class of 2015 have accepted job offers all across the United States. As Commencement approaches we asked them to take a moment and reflect on their time at Pacific and their path ahead.


Vincent Morelos Villalon ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He has found Cedars Sinai Medical Center to be a rewarding and challenging environment where he is continually learning about acute care. He explains, “Cedars Sinai hospital is a teaching hospital where each staff rotates to new areas […] that way all of the therapists’ minds are continuously engaged.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Kylie Rowe is such an expert of pain management and each session was a wonderful learning experience. All four of us in the class were able to learn more in-depth of how persistent pain works in our system and how we are able to treat patients with persistent pain.”

Professional goals: “To be a mentor to future students and to learn from students as physical therapy is a profession of consistently learning new information. In addition, to becoming a cardiovascular and pulmonary clinical specialist.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “We are all one family and help each other learn as a whole. Being in labs, learning new treatments that we can provide to our patients and having class sessions outdoors. Finally, spending quality time with my friends as they are my family.”


Dinah Compton ’15, DPT is currently working for PT Solutions, an inpatient rehabilitation facility in Destin, Florida.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Every professor had an impact on me. Everyone cared so much about our future and continue to be our strongest supporters as we move forward in our career field.”

Professional goals: “Getting my Neurologic Specialist Certification and helping patients return to their prior level of function.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I had the opportunity to volunteer my time treating a spinal cord injury patient and discovered how much of what we do as professionals positively influences people’s lives.”


Katherine Samstag ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist at ATI Physical Therapy in Mercer Island, Washington. At ATI Physical Therapy she has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of patients, from pediatric patients to patients that are over 100 years old. “I have enjoyed the benefit of working with a strong group of other manual therapists who have a wide background and array of education […], which drives collaboration and teamwork for all patients seen at the clinic, ” shares Samstag.

Professor who had a profound impact: “From Dr. Casey Nesbit’s caring and compassionate nature, to her drive for the importance of education and patient access to specific healthcare, I will always hold her perspective close to heart.”

Professional goals: “I hope to contribute [to the profession] a well-rounded and biomechanical perspective on physical therapy examination and treatment, which I learned at Pacific, to each individual patient I treat.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “Traveling with Dr. Casey Nesbit, as well as my fellow DPT students Meiying Lam [’15] and Michael Dessel [’15],to Malawi, Africa.”


Steven Carmack ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist and aquatic physical therapist at Integrated Physical Therapy in Yuba City, California. He welcomed the opportunity to return to his hometown.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Todd Davenport, inspired all of us during a very difficult first semester with motivational speeches and an abundance of knowledge that he presented in understandable ways for us newcomers.”

Professional goals: “To give people who don’t know much about physical therapy the education and confidence to achieve a higher quality of life in a fun and interactive way.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “Winning the co-ed soccer intramural championship with a team of PT students.”



Are Energy Drinks Heart Healthy? Your Support Needed!


Over 50% of college students consume more than one energy drink per month. Energy drinks have also been related to increasing emergency room visits and deaths.

The research team, led by Sachin A. Shah, associate professor  pharmacy practice at University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences have been performing energy drink related research for over 5 years. They are now looking to understand the effects of long term energy drink consumption on human health. They hope to raise $50,000 to conduct a clinical trial to continue their research on this important public health topic.

This project will also bolster student exposure to clinical research. In fact one such student was the recipient of the 2014 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Foundation’s Student Research Award.

You can help support student and faculty research efforts in improving human health by:

1) Donating to the crowdfunding campaign –

2) Sharing this information with others (email, social media, etc)

More information can be found at the following link:

They plan to present their results at a scientific conference and and have them published in a medical journal so that others may benefit from the discoveries you have funded.

Thank you for your consideration; we look forward to having your support.

Baseball Brings the SLP Community Together

The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the announcer calling “strike three!” It was the atmosphere at a baseball game that inspired Benjamin Reece ’01, ’08 assistant clinical professor of speech-language pathology, to create Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark.

Professor Reece approached the Stockton Ports Minor League Baseball team with his idea and was met with an enthusiastic response. The first year he started with 100 tickets, planning for each speech therapy client to bring one caregiver. As the date of the event drew closer, Professor Reece began to get discouraged by the apparent lack of interest. After a discussion with his colleagues he realized that each client’s support system extends far beyond one guardian. When he opened up the event to include the client’s whole support system the tickets sold out in two weeks. They increased the number of tickets to 600, which astounded the Port’s management. “That had never been done before on an inaugural event,” explains Professor Reece.

“My first goal is to increase awareness of speech and hearing disorders,” said Professor Reece. “My second goal is to recognize the work that goes into overcoming a communication disorder.” He emphasized that in addition to the exhaustive efforts by the client throughout the speech therapy process, their success is possible as a result of a network of support.  In addition to the speech-language pathologist, “the caregivers who take them to therapy, the siblings who are affected by the communication disorder and the extended family.”

At that first event, a client who was profoundly deaf and had a cochlear implant assisted the announcers in the radio booth. Professor Reece explains that when an individual receives a cochlear implant early on they do not hear the whole range of sounds; it is a process and the device is tuned over a period of time. He shares that only a week before the game, the client had been mapped for the “s” sound, a critical sound when announcing “strike one, strike two!”

Hosted by California Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark has now spread beyond Stockton. The Modesto Nuts, Sacramento River Cats, Oakland A’s, Lake Elsinore Storm and Inland Empire 66ers have all held similar events. Past events have included individuals from the speech-language pathology community singing or signing the National Anthem, throwing the first pitch, announcing the lineup and leading the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.

Professor Reece shares that it is hard to describe the experience when a speech-language pathologist has the opportunity to sit at a baseball game with a client and their family, whom they may have worked with for several years. It gives them the chance to interact in a different context. One factor that motivated Professor Reece to organize this event was working with children with autism. He identified a need for an event where families would feel that their child was accepted and where there would be no judgment if they needed to leave early because the child felt overwhelmed.

Professor Reece is amazed by the positive response from the community, which often takes shape in unexpected ways. He shared a story from one baseball season at a Port’s game, one of the mothers brought her son who has autism to a concession stand. The cashier wasn’t given special training in preparation for the event, but was aware that it was Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark. She took the mother’s order and then asked the child directly what he wanted to order. At first he shied away, but the cashier was very patient and eventually he communicated to her what he wanted. The mother was touched and she shared that this was the first time that her son had ordered for himself.

“We can take out passions and create community event around these passions. Baseball isn’t the point,” emphasizes Professor Reece. “Take what you are passionate about outside of work and use it to bring awareness.”


Physical Therapy Leadership Council Offers Insight and Support

What do an orthopedic surgeon, the president of a local high school and an attorney have in common? The Physical Therapy Leadership Council (PTLC). The members also share a commitment to being invested in their community. The PTLC supports the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program by reviewing marketing materials, participating in events, promoting alumni engagement and serving as brand ambassadors. According to their mission statement the PTLC assists with “strategic planning, marketing, developing short and long term goals, providing community outreach, and garnering financial support of education, research and clinical practice.”

Who is the DPT program seeking to serve on the PTLC?  “I look for someone who has that depth of experience in whatever field they are in,” said Sandra Reina-Guerra ’97, ’99, ‘03, PT, DPT, PCS, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. “Someone who is visionary and philanthropic with their talents.”

Dr. Reina-Guerra elaborates, “The purpose is to have an external group to give us some perspective on things such as needs in the community, perceptions and what we are projecting outward.” She emphasized that she is grateful for the support of the PTLC members, who give her constructive appraisal of program changes and ideas or affirmation regarding future plans. The members also can give a unique perspective on what employers are looking for in prospective candidates. She adds, “There are four members of the council who are in the hiring position as employers.”

pt-leadership-council-03_resizeDr. Reina-Guerra believes it is vitally important to involve individuals who represent different viewpoints; the group is comprised of both alumni and community members. “I wanted to provide constructive feedback to the University as to how the profession functions in the real world and address issues that affect the future of physical therapy delivery in the community,” said Brandon Nan ’09, PT, DPT, CSCS, clinic owner and physical therapist at Golden Bear Physical Therapy and Sports Injury Center. “I felt that given my experience, I may be able help provide information to assist the University to improve outcomes and delivery of didactic coursework as well as program development. Bringing local representation into a committee like the Physical Therapy Leadership Council provides a diversified view of how we can mainstream physical therapy services to the public and to keep up with current and future affairs for physical therapy delivery.”

Fellow alumni Parley Anderson ’03, PT, DPT, OCS is co-founder of Active Physical Therapy and Peter Hohenthaner ’01, ’04, PT, DPT is an owner of Pine Street Physical and Occupational Therapy. The newest member is alumna Kimberly (Howard) Colón ’03, PT, DPT who is a physical therapist at San Ramon Regional Medical Center.

“We take pride in our community, […we] bring in experiences, public relations, grants and a positive image for the program,” said Virtu Arora, PT, DPT, CLT, COMT. Arora is a physical therapist at Stanford Health Care, ValleyCare. Kevin A. Hicks, JD is a deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County. He believes that it is important for community members to be involved in order to “help the program address public needs.”

Kerry L. Krueger ’06, MS, JD is an attorney at Kroloff, Belcher, Smart, Perry & Christopherson. Krueger has strong ties to the University. In addition to being a graduate of McGeorge School of Law, she worked for the University’s Department of Student Life for nine years. When asked why it is important to involve community members, Krueger replied, “To gain some ‘out-of-the-box’ perspective, to make connections beyond the School and University and to get honest feedback on how others view issues.”

Joseph B. Serra, MD is an orthopedic surgeon and lecturer for the Pacific’s DPT program. Peter D. Morelli ’74 is president of Saint Mary’s High School in Stockton. No stranger to athletics, Morelli has been officiating sporting events since 1971 and his time as an NFL referee includes signaling the winning field goal for Super Bowl XXXVI. In his view, the PTLC gives community members the opportunity to share their opinions and their support.

Dr. Reina-Guerra commended the members of the PTLC for their support of the program’s vision for excellence and foremost to be recognized locally for preparing its graduates to be leaders of distinction in health care and society. “Each member of the Council carries our message to the people and organizations in their own professional and personal lives. We are honored to have the members represent us and we are thankful for their selfless contributions.”


PharmD Student Leaders Share Study Tips

Who They Are and What They Recommend

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you need to understand and remember for an upcoming exam? Having a good study strategy can help you tackle the mountain of information. We asked several student leaders to share with us how they study and what techniques they would recommend.

What is your #1 study tip?

Jamie Legaspi ’18: “Do what works best for you! If it means studying with a group, find that group and make the most of it!”

Andy Szeto ’18: “Break up the material and revisit it several times. I feel that the more you expose yourself to lectures and notes, the more the content sticks. Often students look at a professor’s lecture slides once and get discouraged that they can’t understand it. The point of school is to learn things that you don’t already know so it is perfectly natural to not understand class material right away. Each time you study, ensure you understand the overarching idea before you dive in. This will help you ‘connect the dots.’ Rho Chi also provides tutors who can help you with course material.”

Michaela Vachuska ’18: “When it comes to learning new material, I like to ‘mix it up.’ Study methods that are highly effective for one class might not be effective for others. By quizzing myself often and talking to my friends about the material, I am able to evaluate how effectively I am learning and adjust my habits as necessary.”

Milana Vachuska ’18: “I feel most prepared and confident in class when I review the lecture slides the previous night. In the afternoons, I try my best to review the lectures that took place earlier that day. This method is definitely a big time commitment, but I’ve found that I do best on exams when I approach the material this way. Office hours are the best way to get your questions answered. There is only so much explanation a professor can give during class and sometimes it takes just a few minutes with them to solidify a concept.”


Legaspi serves as academic affairs coordinator for Phi Delta Chi. She shares, “They have a strong passion for leadership and brotherhood. I also felt very comfortable around them and found a family in them.” She adds, “My experience here at Pacific would not have been the same if it weren’t for the people I have met and the friends I have made.”

Legaspi is also a project manager for Alternative and Integrative Medicine (AIMRx). “I was interested in the type of education they did and all of the events they put on,” explains Legaspi. She is also involved in the Medicare Part D Outreach Program. “As I learned more about the program, I realized how much it interested me and how much of an impact I could make on peoples’ lives.”

Szeto is originally from Sacramento and it was the recommendation of alumni that led him to choose Pacific’s accelerated doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program. He explains, “I liked the idea of being able to complete a typical four-year PharmD degree in only three years. Being from the area, I personally knew several Pacific alumni and they only had positives things to say about the School, students and faculty.” He adds, “Being able to meet so many like-minded peers has been the most humbling experience. I know that even after I leave Pacific I’ll have life-long friends to rely on.”

Szeto serves as secretary of the Industry Pharmacists Organization (IPhO). “I chose to run for the executive board of IPhO to showcase myself as an advocate for industry pharmacy and to facilitate networking with industry professionals,” said Szeto. “Industry pharmacy is a relatively nontraditional field of practice for pharmacists that gained popularity in the past several years. IPhO-Pacific was the first IPhO chapter on the West Coast, so I wanted to be at the forefront of industry and innovation in California.”


He is also a member of the Rho Chi Honor Society. “My foremost attraction to Rho Chi was the opportunity to be a peer tutor and mentor to first year students,” said Szeto.” The first year of pharmacy school can be demanding on new students and Rho Chi makes available second year students to help coach and steer their study habits and time management to achieve success.”

It was strong recommendations from alumni that brought Michaela Vachuska to Pacific. She describes her first visit to the campus, “I loved the warm atmosphere and the faculty and students spoke very highly of the program. One of my mentors is a Pacific Alumnus and he encouraged me to apply.” She adds, “The faculty at Pacific have exceeded my highest expectations. They are extremely supportive and understanding. It has been amazing to have them as resources.”

Michaela Vachuska explains what led her to pursue the role of president of the Student College of Clinical Pharmacy (SCCP), “SCCP just graduated from a committee to an organization and I was excited about the prospect of being at the forefront of this transition. I am passionate about clinical pharmacy, so it was a perfect fit.”

Milana Vachuska serves as president of Pacific’s chapter of California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP-Pacific) and scribe of the Medicare Outreach Logistics Committee. “During my first semester here I noticed that CSHP-Pacific hosted a high number of quality events,” said Milana Vachuska. “I wanted to provide those opportunities for my fellow students.”

In July, Milana Vachuska participated in the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony. She shares, “The Scholarship Ceremony reception was a meaningful highlight of my Pacific experience. At the reception students were given the opportunity to have dinner with the donors of their respective scholarships. This event made me feel as though I could someday make a difference in a student’s life and it elucidated the strength of the Pacific alumni network.”

For more tips on how to make the most of your Pacific experience read 8 Things You Should Do During Your First Semester at Pacific.


AAPS-Pacific Chapter Contributes to “30K in 30 Days” Campaign

Chapter Officers with Dr. Li.
Chapter Officers with Dr. Li.

Thirty thousand dollars raised in 30 days was the goal set by the Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) to benefit their foundation. “’30K in 30 Days’ was a fundraising campaign introduced by AAPS in celebration of their 30th anniversary,” said Yifan Lu ’18, chair of Pacific’s chapter of AAPS. “The goal was to raise $30,000 and provide three graduate students with a $10,000 fellowship funding to further their research.” Pacific’s chapter organized a board game night where students competed against faculty. The chapter earned the distinction of being the student chapter with the largest number of donations.

“The AAPS Foundation is the philanthropic arm of AAPS,” said Vice-Chair Mallika Vadlamudi ’18. “Its mission is to provide meaningful financial support to scientists to advance research, education and training for the discovery, development and manufacture of drugs. It is also used to encourage, inspire and inform K–12 students of career opportunities in the pharmaceutical sciences.”

Founded in 1986, AAPS advances the capacity of pharmaceutical scientists to develop products and therapies that improve global health. AAPS has approximately 10,000 members worldwide who have roles in academia, industry, research and government. Pacific’s AAPS student chapter was established in October 2004; the chapter currently has 66 student members from various disciplines. Xiaoling Li, PhD, professor of pharmaceutics and medicinal chemistry and associate dean for graduate education and research, serves as the faculty advisor. “Our mission is to enrich students’ graduate experiences by providing resources in the field of pharmaceutical sciences to bridge the gap between academia and industry,” shares Treasurer Jieyun Cao ’18. “To achieve this mission our chapter has organized numerous activities such as guest speaker events and research symposia, as well as professional and social interactions.”

Lu presents his work in the DeRosa Center for Research Day.
Lu presents his work in the DeRosa Center for Research Day.

Cao sees the value in being involved in professional organizations as a student. She elaborates, “Professional organizations are a great platform which facilitate interactions between students and industry scientists, as well as academic scholars. It gives us exposure to the pharmaceutical field and prepares us for our future career endeavors.”

The chapter is actively involved in the University’s annual Research Day. Since 2015, members have assisted with and moderated the event. The vision of the multi-disciplinary event compliments APPS’s core values of learning, innovation, service, inclusiveness and integrity. “Research Day is an event that showcases the research and creative endeavors of Pacific’s faculty, graduate and undergraduate students via posters and presentations,” said Vadlamudi. The next Research Day will be held on the Stockton campus on April 29, 2017.

This year the AAPS chapter initiated the inaugural Pacific-China Pharmaceutical University Pharmaceutical Research Symposium to promote international networking and collaboration on research techniques and ideas. Vadlamudi shares, “The event was very successful and was scientifically stimulating. Pharmacy and chemistry faculty members, as well as graduate students and doctor of pharmacy students attended the event. With the success of the first symposium, we will expand the second symposium by involving more universities such as University of California, San Francisco.”

To learn more about AAPS go to For more information on Pacific’s chapter of AAPS contact Mallika Vadlamudi at


8 Things to Do During Your First Semester at Pacific

Jamie Legaspi ’18, Andy Szeto ’18, Michaela Vachuska ’18 and Milana Vachuska ’18 share their advice for getting the most out of your first semester at Pacific.

1) Get to you know your professors

Michaela Vachuska: “They are an incredibly helpful resource and will give you great advice if you find yourself struggling.”

Milana Vachuska: “The faculty here at Pacific are friendly, available and dedicated to the success of their students. This became apparent to me after my first tour of this campus. Not only are they super friendly and hilarious, but they can also help you through more difficult concepts. While it might seem intimidating at first, I promise it will be worth it.”

2) Get to know yourself

Milana Vachuska: “Get involved, attend speaker events and establish a routine that works for you. There is no ‘cookie-cutter’ approach […] you are going to have to adapt!”

3) Go to class

Szeto: “The first step in learning the material is to expose yourself to it. Repeated exposure helps cement concepts in your mind.”

Milana Vachuska: “I find that for every hour I spend being attentive in class, I save about three hours of toiling over the material. Don’t skip class, it’s a trap!”

4) Relax

Legaspi: “Find what makes helps you de-stress. Give yourself a time to relax and enjoy things you love to do.”

Szeto: “School, leadership and community service are important, so is taking time for yourself. Make sure you don’t burn yourself out and remind yourself that you deserve to unwind once in a while. The key to success is balance, everything in moderation.”

Michaela Vachuska: “My friends have ‘casual Fridays’ where we just hang out, socialize, eat and watch TV. It was always a great way to de-stress so I could be as productive as possible over the weekend!”

5) Stay positive

Michaela Vachuska: “It is important to celebrate your successes and learn from your failures. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect!”

Milana Vachuska: “Being in the company of good friends helps me to keep a positive attitude during stressful or draining times.”

6) Join a student organization

Legaspi: “Don’t be afraid to take risks when it comes to joining clubs and organizations. On the other hand, only go for something if you have a passion for it, rather than doing it just to fluff up your resume.”

7) Use a calendar

Szeto: “With the plethora of organizations, committees and other extracurricular activities on top of academics, it is very easy to be overwhelmed. Put everything into an accessible planner to ensure you don’t miss any appointments and have ample time to prepare for projects or events.”

8) Dress professionally

Michaela Vachuska: “While it is not required, it could be helpful in making an impression while you are still new to campus!”



Pharmacy Scholarship Recipients Q&A

Agbongpolo with Dean Phillip Oppenheimer and Kourtney Sherman '12, PharmD.
Agbongpolo with Dean Phillip Oppenheimer and Kourtney Sherman ’12, PharmD.

Each year the School’s Scholarship Ceremony brings into focus the generosity of the donors who support our pharmacy students. The history of how each scholarship was established is as diverse as the abilities and aspirations of the recipients. What all the recipients have in common is the feeling of overwhelming gratitude that comes with knowing that there are individuals and organizations who support them. Watch a video of students demonstrating the impact of their benefactor’s support here.

Samuel Agbonkpolo ’18 was awarded the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation Pharmacy Partners Scholarship, the Sherman Family Scholarship and the Walgreens Diversity Scholarship. He shares, “When you are on this road to becoming a pharmacist sometimes you can feel like you are on your own, just me and these books. It’s nice to know there are people out there who support you.”

Cindy (Mei Xian) Hsieh ’17 was awarded the Commitment to Global Health Scholarship, the Robert M. Long Endowed Scholarship and the Thomas J. Long Foundation Scholarship. She echoes Agbonkpolo’s sentiments. “It gives me confidence and pride knowing that there are professionals rooting for my success and applauding me for the goals I am striving for,” said Hsieh. “Thank you for your generosity.”

Larsen with Dean Oppenheimer and John Livesey, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology and chair.
Larsen with Dean Oppenheimer and John Livesey, PhD, professor of physiology and pharmacology and chair.

Cory Larsen ’17 was awarded the Richard and Marilynn Balch Endowed Scholarship, the Camouflage to White Coat Scholarship, the Jen-Ling Hsieh Scholarship and the Thomas J. Long Foundation Scholarship. He describes his academic career as a journey. “It’s good to know that people who have gone on the road before me are looking out for people who are still going down the path,” said Larsen. “Having that support, especially from the alumni, inspires me to help future generations.”

Scholarships open up opportunities that students might not otherwise have been able to pursue. Mark Miller ’17 was awarded the Norm Kobayashi Travel Award and the Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association Travel Award. “Thank you to all the donors,” said Miller. “This scholarship is going to help me get to a conference that will help me in my job search in the future.”

From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Lucille Gould, Karen Gould, Milana Vachuska, Johnny Hsia and Michaela Vachuska at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.
From left to right: Dean Oppenheimer, Lucille Gould, Karen Gould, Milana Vachuska, Johnny Hsia and Michaela Vachuska at the Pharmacy Scholarship Ceremony.

Michaela Vachuska ’18 was awarded the Chan Family Endowed Scholarship and the Jay Patrick Gould Memorial Scholarship. She has learned from personal experience that pursuing a doctor of pharmacy degree requires drive and determination. She shares, “While the challenge is rewarding, pharmacy school is a highly taxing experience and it is amazing to know that there are people who want to support students in their pursuit to become pharmacists. It is incredibly generous and I can’t thank them enough.”

Milana Vachuska ’18 was awarded the Chan Family Endowed Scholarship, the Jay Patrick Gould Memorial Scholarship and the Thomas J. and Muriel Long Scholarship. When asked what it means to her to know that there are individuals who offer their support she said, “It means the world. It’s the main reason I chose to come to Pacific. Our alumni really care about the School. You see a lot of loyalty in preceptors, in pharmacy managers, in professors and it’s really nice to know that I always have somewhere to go if I need advice.”


What aspects of this scholarship resonated with you personally?

Agbonkpolo: “The description said it was for African-Americans and there are a limited number [at the School], so I applied because I wanted to show that we are here and we do have a presence on campus. Knowing that there were people out there who supported African-Americans made me want to apply.”

Hsieh: “I’m Chinese-American and I am very proud of my heritage and that started really early on. That got me looking at other cultures as well. This scholarship really resonated with me because it combines my passion outside of pharmacy, along with my future profession, as well an emphasis on cultural awareness and competency in the pharmacy setting.”

Miller: “I wanted to be able to attend the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists conference in November to share the data that I have generated and make connections with other students and also potential employers. A lot of times these conferences will have recruiters from the top pharmaceutical companies and it’s a great place to connect with people.”

Larsen: “Being a veteran with a family, I feel like the scholarship was pretty much created for me.”

Michaela Vachuska: “While I knew a lot of students were applying, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to tell the donors my story.  The faculty were all incredibly supportive and made the process as easy as possible for the students, which was also really helpful!”

Milana Vachuska: “I live in the Chan Family Hall, so I thought that it would be appropriate. I met all the qualifications […]. You never know until you try.”


How would your professors and peers describe you?

Agbonkpolo: “Confident, charismatic and determined.”

Hsieh: “Ambitious, enthusiastic and well-rounded.”

Miller: “Efficient, pragmatic and detail-oriented.”

Larsen: “Focused, gregarious and adaptable.”

Michaela Vachuska: “Hard-working, genuine and charismatic.”

Milana Vachuska: “Perseverant, confident and empathetic.”


What are the characteristics of a successful pharmacist?

Agbonkpolo: “Active listener, selfless and a lifelong learner.”

Hsieh: “Knowledgeable, reliable and professional.”

Miller: “Hard working and creative. Someone who can work well with teams. It seems counterintuitive that a scientist would have to be charismatic, but I think it is extremely important to know how to deal with people.”

Larsen: “Someone who is charismatic. Whether a pharmacist is talking to a patient or talking to a doctor, the pharmacist needs to be able to explain things to them so they understand and trust what the pharmacist is telling them. Charisma is an underrated attribute that a pharmacist needs to have.”

Michaela Vachuska: “Although I have a lot to learn, what I have taken from my experiences is that you have to be passionate about making a difference in peoples’ lives in order to be a great pharmacist in the long term. “

Milana Vachuska: “A successful pharmacist admits that they don’t know everything. As humans, or as any health care professional, we are not expected to know everything. I think the important thing is to understand the people around us and know where to look for the answer.”

There are many ways to make a transformative, tax-deductible gift to the School. You can make a gift online, by mail or over the phone by contacting Jen Flora at 209.946.2303.

ACCP Clinical Pharmacy Challenge Tests Knowledge and Teamwork

SCCP_winningteamgroupphotoImagine that you only have seconds to answer the following question: Which of the following medications used for rapid sequence intubation can inhibit cortisol synthesis? a) Etomidate b) Ketamine c) Propofol or d) Succinylcholine. This is the type of question that is asked at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) Clinical Pharmacy Challenge, which is a national pharmacy student team competition.

Across the country universities hold local competitions to identify their strongest competitors. The Student College of Clinical Pharmacy hosted the competition at Pacific and 11 three-member teams competed. Pacific will be represented at the national level by Dilraj Sohal ’17, Claire Kim ’17 and Cindy Hsieh ’17.

Eligible teams compete in up to four online rounds. The top eight teams advance to the live quarterfinal competitions, which will take place at the ACCP Annual Meeting in Hollywood, Florida, October 22-24, 2016. The competition has three sections. The trivia/lightning round consists of 15 true-false questions. The questions cover the subjects of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenomics, biostatistics and health outcomes. The second segment is a clinical case and participants answer five questions after reviewing the clinical case vignette. In the final portion of the competition, students answer questions covering a wide range of topics that relate to clinical pharmacy. The format of the final portion is similar to Jeopardy and teams are asked questions that belong to five specific categories. These five categories are selected from a larger group of topics ranging from endocrinology to vaccinations.

For pharmacy students the competition is a unique and interactive way to assess their knowledge. “I saw it as an opportunity to really learn and challenge myself as a pharmacy student, so I took the opportunity and ran with it,” said Hsieh. “I also liked the idea of exploring different aspects of pharmacy.” She elaborates that the competition is a good way to “see if clinical pharmacy is something you love doing.” Sohal agrees, “It helps you test the material you learn in class and see if you can actually use reasoning to apply the knowledge to situations that may arise. I am hoping for a career in clinical pharmacy and figured this would be a great way to test my knowledge.” William A. Kehoe, MA, PharmD, FCCP, BCPS, department chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and professor of pharmacy practice and psychology adds, “This competition requires high level pharmacotherapy knowledge. I think the preparation is really important and will help them in patient care settings.”

Sohal explains that the fast paced environment forces you to rely on your instincts. She adds that the way that the competition is structured teaches you to trust your teammates as you work collaboratively. Hsieh adds, “I think that working in a team helps you realize your strengths and weaknesses. When you go into the clinical field you are in essence working as a team.” Dr. Kehoe agrees, “These kinds of opportunities give them a chance to solve problems by working together.” He explains that today’s health care professionals work in teams with each individual contributing their unique skill set.

“Without a doubt, the health care world involves communicating with many different health care providers, whether it be nurses, doctors, physicians or other pharmacists,” said Sohal. “Working as a team in a competition demonstrates the importance of being able to communicate with people who may think and do things differently. It allows you to be able to listen to others while also giving you the confidence to apply your own knowledge in order to make the best clinical decision.”

As the competition advances the difficulty and complexity of the questions increases. Dr. Kehoe says, “You would not believe the level and depth of the questions they will face in the next few rounds.” In 2011, Pacific’s team advanced to the quarterfinal round and was among the top eight teams in the country. Dr. Kehoe remembers with pride, “What I recall most was walking around and hearing so many ACCP members talking about the strength of the Pacific team.”

Hsieh believes that one of the factors that contributed to the success of her team was their mentality going into the competition. She elaborates, “We went into it with a mindset that we wanted to win.” As a team they spent time preparing by studying, doing research and taking practice tests. Both Sohal and Hsieh encourage students to participate in the future. Sohal exclaimed, “Definitely something to try out with some friends!”