Meet second-year PharmD student Nathalie Iribe, vice president of admission and recruitment for the Associated Students of the School of Pharmacy. Iribe shares her experience growing up in a community where many did not have health insurance and how she became inspired to pursue a career in pharmacy to advocate for accessible healthcare.
Can you share your experience so far as the Associated Students of the School of Pharmacy (ASSP) VP of Admissions and Recruitment? What has been your most memorable experience yet?
As the vice president of admission and recruitment, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the admissions committee to help with creating the interview scenarios for this new cycle. It has also been a great experience selecting and managing the Student Admissions Committee (SAC) for the 2021-2022 school year. From having been a candidate going through USC’s interview process, to a member interviewing potential candidates, to now overseeing the student admissions committee has been such a transformative experience. I would say one of my most memorable experiences yet would be reflecting with current committee members during interview day as we remember once being in the candidates’ shoes. It is amazing to see how much we can all grow in just a couple of years, and it is exciting to play a part in this journey for the incoming class.
If a student is interested in becoming involved, what would you recommend? How can a student reach out to you as the ASSP VP of Admissions and Recruitment?
One thing that has always stood out to me about USC is the seemingly infinite number of opportunities. Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming or difficult to decide what you want to be a part of. My personal recommendation is to choose something with goals and values that align to yours. Finding passion in what you spend your time on is so much more valuable than participating in something simply because you think you have to do it. Feel free to reach out to me anytime via Facebook or email at email@example.com.
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?” What are your career aspirations?
Growing up in a predominantly Hispanic community where most people did not have health insurance, I was always aware of the great need for accessible healthcare. However, I did not know how important the role of a pharmacist was until I learned more about the profession in high school while searching for potential careers. My image of a pharmacist had always just been someone who dispensed and sold us our medications and that was it. However, pharmacists can do so much more, and serve as a bridge for accessible healthcare, to a certain extent, for the uninsured. Aside from the lack of activism from pharmacists I saw in my community, I also noticed a huge language barrier between the pharmacists in my community and our patient population, reflecting that of the state of California as well. For example, Hispanics make up the largest ethnic group in California, making up 39% of the population, whereas Hispanic pharmacists only represent about 3.3% of the state’s pharmacist workforce. This was shocking to me, considering I grew up in a community where approximately 70% of the population was Hispanic. That being said, I was eager to pursue a career in pharmacy where I can play a more proactive role and not only serve my community clinically, but also educate them on how to make the most out of the resources that are available to them despite being uninsured.
Why did you choose the USC School of Pharmacy and what’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at the school so far?
I always knew I wanted to be at USC for pharmacy school because of location, opportunity, and the Trojan network. The community surrounding USC is similar to the community I grew up in, in that it is predominantly Hispanic. Because of that, I knew I would have many more opportunities to volunteer or to work with this patient population. This exposure will help me become more familiar with the common issues faced among this population and how to better serve them and be proactive enough to be of greater help. Additionally, USC is very proactive in the community and is home to many leaders in the field of pharmacy. For example, when the COVID-19 vaccine was first available, USC was one of the first to organize and host many large clinics and was able to vaccinate over 1 million people within a relatively short period of time. This is just one example of USC’s service to the community. Finally, USC’s vast alumni network speaks for itself. When I first started at USC, I met so many new people and I will never forget receiving good luck texts from upperclassmen before taking my very first exam in pharmacy school. This was so sweet to me and surprising because I had not even mentioned my exams to them at the time. This may seem so small, but it meant so much to me and really set the tone for the supportive community at USC.
What’s a fun fact about you that most people don’t know about?
I like to run Spartan Races in my free time. I’ve been doing them since I was 16. It’s such an amazing experience, and you feel great afterwards. I would definitely recommend everyone try it at least once! It’s is a 3 to 13 mile run, depending on what level you choose, and contains various obstacles throughout the course of the race. These are usually held in deserts or stadiums, and everyone receives a medal and a t-shirt after the race.