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.

By Anne Marie H. Bergthold
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