When did you decide you wanted to become a pharmacist and why did you choose pharmacy?
I attended the University of Southern California (USC) College of Pharmacy. Go Trojans! Initially (as a young woman in my twenties), I was passionately pursuing medical school. Yet, as I walked down that road, the Lord closed some doors, but opened new doors for me in the pharmacy world. After much soul searching and prayer, I decided that pharmacy was the better option for me (and academically speaking, pharmacological practice aligned more closely with my skills and strong interest in chemistry). It was not an easy decision to make – it was agonizing – and in fact, it meant the painful end of certain youthful dreams. However, pharmacy would permit me to pursue my academic and medical passions, while also offering me the chance to put time into future family life. As a doctor of pharmacy, I enjoy the responsibility and pursuit of medical practice and caring for patients in a powerful and significant way. I find myself every bit fulfilled and invigorated by my practice, and there’s no end of things to master and people to help. Yet, I am also a bit more free to be a wife, mother, and church member, which are very important callings to me. I have also learned specialties in human health that I otherwise would never have gained such exposure to. Looking back, I can see God’s wise hand working even through the crucible of disappointments and difficult decisions. I see that like a good father, God helped me make a choice which, at the time, I resisted and I did not even realize was better for me. I am so glad that when God reached out to me, I took his hand, ran with it, and poured myself wholeheartedly into this field. The life I have lived in this work has been the most professionally and personally satisfying thing I ever could have done. I do not regret a thing.
Where did you do undergrad and what made you choose that location?
I graduated undergrad from the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). Go Bruins! It was an exceptional school and I really enjoyed my experience there. The faculty was amazing and nurtured my interest in science and medicine. I can’t lie, though – the weather in sunny So-Cal was pretty much perfect all year round, and UCLA is situated pretty well there, making it a beautiful place to learn. However, I was also motivated by far more meaningful reasons to go to UCLA: my family and my church were nearby, and those were the most important relationships in my life. Going to UCLA meant I could continue to mentor my younger teenage brother. I also could spend time with my mother (a highly-regarded UCLA registered nurse and incredible woman), as well as attend my church in Santa Monica. I was truly blessed to live there and learn with that kind of family and spiritual support. I cannot overstate the importance of a close network of loving family and friends (and the perfect weather, beach, and malls within walking distance don’t hurt either!)
What made you choose HUCOP and what’s been the most beneficial thing about attending?
Harding University is a very, very special place. Go Bisons!!! It’s special for the very reason that it does not merely focus on the obvious goal of “being a university.” There’s a difference between a school, where you just shuttle in to “learn and leave,” and HUCOP. Harding exemplifies a personal level of caring that extends to faculty and students alike. It reaches beyond instilling mere academic knowledge, but also fosters and nurtures the kindness of heart, depth of character, and God-led soul which a medical practitioner absolutely needs to have. It’s one thing to learn, but it’s another thing to recognize why you’re learning to begin with. The Harding faculty is here because we have accepted a calling which goes far beyond receiving a paycheck. I believe the students feel the same. We believe in the inherent special nature of every student, and in the fact that each graduating class is released into the world for a great purpose beyond mere medicine or science. The challenges and vicissitudes of life can make us or break us. So when you wake up, you need to know the reason you’re waking up and going to work each day. Here, we train skilled pharmacists who know exactly why they want to get out of bed each day: it always comes back to love. Love for God, love from God. Love for people, for taking care of them, for teaching them how to overcome health challenges when maybe, they never had the opportunities or know-how to do so before. Love for making life better in a world that resists that very thing. If you are a student here, know that you are here for a very special reason, and you are surrounded by faculty who are not only knowledgeable, but who truly care in a way that’s very rare.
What would you tell a student thinking about pursuing pharmacy?
There’s a difference between a job and a calling. Have you ever been taken care of or served by someone who hated their job? It shows. Compare that to someone who you know feels called to do what they’re doing – the passion, the struggle, the exuberance, excitement, and care comes out of them even on their worst days. They’re not looking at the clock, they’re not counting dollar bills. They’re on a lifelong adventure that lends them a perspective far beyond any single day. They’re doing it for God, and in turn, He gives them the desires of their heart – that is to say, he puts His own desires into them, and breathes life and passion into their hearts.
You can find a good “job” somewhere, something you enjoy, something 9 to 5, something that pays well. It might have good hours, it might have routine and enjoyable rhythm. You can settle in on autopilot and retire very comfortably. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with all of that. But to succeed in this particular field, you need to recognize it as your calling, ordained by heaven. If you can do that, then the rest will come. It will be hard. The challenges can be lonely, and it’s easy to be envious of friends living easy when you’re stuck trying to crack the most complex problems of your life – or of someone else’s medical misfortunes. You will wonder sometimes why you got into this; you will work late; you will get discouraged when your best efforts fail, or when something is beyond you. You may even see illnesses in your own family which exceed your own power or knowledge to heal. But at the end of the road, when you look back, you will have gained more than any “job” in the world could ever give you. The risks you took were for something greater than yourself. You will have walked with God through a journey most colorful, most accomplished, most meaningful. You will have weaved yourself into the lives and desperate moments of thousands of other souls. You will have learned to trust God in the most trying times, and to do everything you can personally do, but to rely on Him alone for the rest. You will have, quite literally, been the hands of Jesus to others, every day. You will have, many times, been the only access to care that someone has. That’s an opportunity to show God’s kindness to someone, to make access to care easy, not hard. As a person called to pharmacy, every single decision you make while you’re at work, will have absolutely mattered and made a difference – oftentimes even saved a life. How many jobs offer that? You’re never going to wonder “where did the time go? What did I do with it?” You will have reached for the highest heights of academic knowledge, learned things that very few know, and applied your whole heart into just one thing every single day – improving the lives of others. That noble sacrifice, guided by Christ’s own love for people, will give you joy and satisfaction. It will empower you, your communities, your friends, families, and endless crowds of people relying on your skillful care and God’s spirit working through you. So, don’t be afraid, and take heart. In the end, you will know that it was worth every step of the way to choose a calling, over a job.
What has been the most rewarding thing about attending HUCOP?
In fact, all the things I wrote about above, are what I’m most grateful for. My time at Harding has represented one of the deepest personal growth experiences in my life. The people I work with – the same ones who teach you – have proven themselves time and time again to be people of the highest, most compassionate, and most generous character. They have supported and mentored me in innumerable ways. I don’t think I would ever come to so many personal realizations, had I not come here. Harding is a beautiful, magical place in many ways. Just as it has been the foundation of life-changing learning and experiences for students, it has also been one of the greatest pursuits and passions I have ever had the privilege of enjoying. I feel incredible pride and accomplishment in helping, in my own small way, to build a school for the ages. I feel incredibly humbled and grateful that God used my time here to deepen my own spirit in ways I needed so much, to show me how very much I rely on Him, and how His plans for me really were so, so good – from the very beginning! None of this could have happened if Harding were merely just another “school.” The fact that this place honors and elevates Christ, transforms the whole landscape into a place where lives go to change.