PharmD Graduate Spotlight: Thu Pham

In preparation for the College of Pharmacy’s 2021 Convocation, we’re highlighting a few of our many extraordinary graduates.

One of those outstanding students, Thu Pham, shared with us some advice and memories that she collected during her time at the College of Pharmacy.

Name: Thu Pham
Hometown: Rach Gia, Vietnam 
Program: Dual-degree PharmD/Masters in Public Health

Q: What inspired you to pursue your PharmD?

A: Experiencing and witnessing sickness and poverty growing up, I developed a strong desire to help people. I started participating in charity activities but soon realized that I could not provide enough help and there were always people who needed assistance. In addition, as a child, I witnessed my grandmother create and use herbal medicines to help heal her relatives and neighbors. Seeing my grandmother help heal others in need, encouraged me to seek a degree in the medical field. As a graduate of the dual-degree program of PharmD and Master of Public Health, I hope and desire to use the skills that we have learned to help more people constantly and consistently.

Q: What have you accomplished during your studies that you are proud of?

A: I was able to give back to the community and help raise awareness on current health issues while going to school. In one of my classes, I was able to go out on my own to middle schools, a high school, and a community college in Yuma, Arizona, to educate more than 160 students about Skin Cancer and Sun Safety. I was able to present in a state conference as well as an interview with the CDC to share my story as a TB survivor and as a future healthcare provider. However, what makes me the proudest is the “Masks for People in Need” project I worked on at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when the mask mandate was not yet implemented. I was able to apply the professional judgment and leadership skills that I had learned to establish and grow the project from humble beginnings to delivering more than 700 masks to the local hospital, hospices, nursing homes, farmers, and individuals in Arizona. We even expanded the project to make and send masks to other states

Q: What are your other plans for after graduation?

A: I love teaching and providing service to the community. I am considering a job that allows me to teach and work as a pharmacist in any setting where I could utilize my knowledge to help people. I am also hoping to participate in as many public health activities as possible.

Q: What is your favorite memory from school? 

A: My favorite memories are all the times that I hung out with my friends and classmates, especially during our lunch breaks in those weeks with no exams. We could sit down and talk about anything. I could never have imagined that the class meeting before our last spring break was to be the last in-person class meeting we had for the program.

Q: Do you have any words of advice for students who may be thinking about pursuing their PharmD?

A: If you have a dream or a desire in mind, work hard to make it come true. When you look back, “the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do” (Michael Curtis). You may have heard that pharmacy school is hard. It is true and necessary for a professional program to be challenging. There will be ups and downs during the four years of the program. Be persistent! The faculty and staff at the COP have done and will do a fabulous job assisting all of you. And remember, those times are just temporary. Don’t let the difficulties discourage you from all the good things you will be able to do.

Q: Anything else you would like to share?

A: For those who are still in pharmacy school, I have two tips to share:
First, don’t be hesitant to reach out for help! The support is always there for you. Asking for help and saying “I am not okay” is a sign of strength.
Second, be joyful! Enjoy what you learn, what you experience, and spend as much quality time with your peers as possible. These four years will go by very fast.

Story by: Gracie Lordi