Meet third-year PharmD student Jafar Essayli, whose experience working with elementary school students with special needs inspired him to pursue pharmacy. Here, the Cypress, Calif. native shares why he chose to attend the USC School of Pharmacy and how his past experiences with mentorship and teaching encouraged him to pursue an area of concentration in education.
Where is your hometown?
I grew up in a town called Cypress in Orange County, Calif. More recently, San Diego was my home for four years when I was embarking on my undergraduate journey at UC San Diego.
What attracted you to the field of pharmacy? Any particular moment(s) that made you stop and think, “This is the path I want to take?”
Throughout my childhood, my pediatrician inspired me to follow a career path in health care and provide medical care to children. As a pre-health student at UC San Diego, I volunteered at a local elementary school where I provided supplemental education to children with various special needs. Through this experience, I found teaching to be an empowering tool that stimulates the academic and personal growth of students. As I was exploring various career options in college, I joined my university’s pre-pharmacy society, where I spoke to both pharmacists and pre-pharmacy mentors. Through my conversations, I discovered that the profession of pharmacy incorporates two profound passions of mine: improvement of health outcomes and education. Moreover, I realized that as a pharmacist, I would be able to educate and empower patients about how to effectively use their medications, which I consider one of the greatest rewards of the career.
Why did you choose to attend the USC School of Pharmacy?
When applying to pharmacy schools, the USC School of Pharmacy stood out to me for its dedication to blossom its students into well-rounded pharmacists. I value the versatile experiences that USC provides to students, including opportunities to pursue a dual degree or an area of concentration, be involved in various student organizations and intern at surrounding hospitals and pharmacies. I have thus discovered numerous avenues for academic, personal and professional development throughout my pharmacy school career.
Furthermore, as someone who is passionate about serving the underserved, I recognize that the school’s location is one that allows students to address the health care disparities prevalent in the Los Angeles area. I am honored by our student body’s continued efforts to empower positive change across a number of underserved communities around our campus.
What’s one of the best/most memorable experiences you’ve had at the School of Pharmacy so far?
One of the most memorable experiences I have had during pharmacy school is presenting to secondary school students at the Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) last summer through the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). The NAI is a USC college preparatory program that paves the way for middle school and high school students from South and East Los Angeles areas to excel academically and gain admission to college. Through these presentations, other SNPhA members and I shared insight about ways for students to maintain good physical and mental health (especially during the pandemic). We also shared with the students about our own paths toward pharmacy school and highlighted various career options within pharmacy. This experience was very meaningful to me, as I helped widened the perspectives of underserved students about graduate school opportunities that might be waiting for them in the future.
What are your career aspirations?
Although I am currently open to exploring more career opportunities in pharmacy, I have so far found interest in both pediatric pharmacy and academia. My passion for pediatrics stems from my experiences working with children with various special needs throughout college. I am also grateful to have had the opportunity to intern at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where I have explored the world of pediatrics in both the inpatient and outpatient pharmacy setting. I have recognized that the area of pediatrics would not only enable me to positively impact children, but also their entire circle of friends and family surrounding them.
Moreover, because the area of education has largely impacted me, I would love to be able to incorporate it into my future career as a pharmacist. Through teaching, I can have long-term impact on students’ academic and professional growth, which is very meaningful to me. Thus, I am currently pursuing an area of concentration in education to further explore the world of academia.
What’s a fun fact about you that most people don’t know about?
I love to travel and explore different places, languages, and cultures around our globe! During my fourth year of my undergraduate career, I traveled to Panama City, Panama, where my service organization provided medical care to residents in the city and surrounding villages.