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.
I 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.
I 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