Meet Karen Herrera

As part of our ongoing recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are privileged to share the story of P3 student Karen Herrera. Karen’s story is one of resilience and determination. Many thanks to her for sharing with us.

Karen Herrera in in front of Duluth bridge

My first exposure to anything healthcare-related was serving my immigrant family as an interpreter at age 6. I could only translate so many words because I was also learning how to speak the English language that was foreign to me. I realized then that in order for my family to understand the healthcare system I had to submerge myself into the common language of science and math.

As I continued to navigate life through a new school system and was preparing myself for the next step in life, college, I realized I had to make a profound decision that would impact the rest of my life. As I narrowed down my search for possible careers, I came across pharmacy. Being a first-generation college student, I had no idea what pharmacy entailed, and I did not know where to begin. I only knew that pharmacy interconnected my personality and intelligence aspects that were important to me when choosing a career.

After some research, I decided to dive in and pursue pharmacy by starting with a bachelor's in biology. I faced many obstacles as a woman of color in science, including doubt from my then advisor, financial hardships, and even overt systemic racism. The harder I fell, the further my passion grew towards pharmacy. There were many days I doubted myself but remembered that I am not only in healthcare because of me; I am in it to better serve my community and future generations of Hispanic pharmacists to come after me.

Karen Herrera under a tree in fall

For our Hispanic community to live longer and healthier lives, healthcare professionals must be willing to step up and accommodate patients accordingly. Such accommodations include involving a patient's culture, traditions, or religion in their healthcare goals. Students on the path to becoming healthcare professionals who have experienced hardships can use their experiences to lead and influence others as the community that we are. I hope that my piece of knowledge will encourage other Hispanic students to push through with their dreams and career goals not only for our community but for themselves because the struggles we continue to experience are worth the fight.

- Karen Herrera, Class of 2023