Meet Damian Shanks-Vazquez

For this week’s National Hispanic Heritage Month recognition message, we hear from one of our distinguished alumni. Damian Shanks-Vazquez is a graduate of the class of 2021 who graciously shares his journey to becoming a pharmacist. His message is inspiring and we’re grateful for his willingness to share.
Damian holding diploma at graduationI am honored to bring you greetings for Hispanic Heritage Month 2021!
My name is Damian Shanks-Vazquez and I am a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota-College of pharmacy. I earned my Doctor of Pharmacy degree in May 2021. I have now accepted a community pharmacist position with Walgreens Pharmacy and am currently working in Downtown Minneapolis.
My connection to the Hispanic community runs deep. I was born in Mexico, so I identify as Hispanic and Latino. I have been a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient since 2012. After two decades of living in the U.S, I traveled to Mexico in July for three weeks to learn about my Mexican culture, and to understand pharmacy in the scope of the Latin American healthcare system.
Damian ShanksI chose Pharmacy as my career because I love helping those in need and because of my altruistic personality. Another reason why I chose pharmacy was because I felt Hispanics are underrepresented in this field of healthcare. The University of Minnesota has a top pharmacy program that gave me the tools to better serve my community as a new health care provider.

It wasn’t easy achieving higher education as a DACA recipient, but the University of Minnesota supported me from day one to accomplish my dream of earning my doctorate degree. I was lucky enough to use the many resources the University of Minnesota provided to me during my time as a student. The Immigration Response Team, the College of Pharmacy Student Services Office, and most recently, a new Student Affinity Group for DACA and Undocumented Students all provided a support system.

I encourage every first generation, DACAmented and undocumented incoming students to follow their dreams because higher education may not be easy but it is achievable.
Damian Shanks-Vazquez, PharmD
University of Minnesota alumni, 2021