Meet our Students
Read profiles of students and recent graduates to find out what it's like to be a PharmD student at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy. Their profiles highlight unique leadership and educational opportunities, as well as their commitment to improving their communities.
Deborah A. Kasper Memorial Award Recipient
"I am extremely honored to have received the Deborah A. Kasper Memorial Award, which is given to someone who contributes most to everyday esprit de corps. I have the award hanging above my desk as a reminder of the importance of leadership by showing we are all working together to achieve our goals. It is also a reminder to make sure that I share my appreciation of others - a simple act of appreciation may end up being someone’s proudest accomplishment."
A passion for understanding global pharmacy
As a self-described problem solver with a desire to learn new things daily, Cassandra Saunders says her love of talking to people and interest in how medications interact with and affect the body led her to pursue a career in pharmacy.
Bridging the Cultural Gap Between Health Care Professionals and Patients
As a pharmacy student, Elizabeth Nguyen's goal is to bridge the cultural gap between health care professionals and patients. She was drawn to the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy because of its involvement with the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) and World Health Organization.
“I’ve always been drawn to Minnesota”
Having spent the majority of his childhood in nearby Hudson, Wisc., Cameron Wing was always drawn to Minnesota and the Twin Cities metropolitan area. He attended the University of Minnesota where he earned a degree in biochemistry along with a minor in public health before attending the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy.
A Lifelong Learner
Leah Cashman describes herself as always asking “why” and “how,” and a lifelong learner. Her senior year of undergrad she was working as an equine vet tech and became curious of how TPNs work, which sent her on a quest for answers at the on-site compounding pharmacy. She was blown away with the pharmacy profession.
You’re Never Too Old To Start
Ann Nagle spent 10 years working in drug chemistry and toxicology in forensics, testing suspected controlled substances in a lab to identify their contents. She was frustrated to see pharmaceuticals be one of the top three controlled substances abused in her laboratories. Nagle’s desire to help people struggling with addiction is what sparked her interest in pharmacy.
First In Pharmacokinetics Graduate Training Program
Atuobi Nana Yiadom is the first pharmacy student to participate in Mayo Clinic’s summer graduate training program in pharmacokinetics. He took Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics courses at the college and discovered that he really enjoyed precision medicine and the ability to tailor a patient’s treatment.
Determined to Change the World
Brittney Mikell spent three years in Boston working in research at a hospital where she worked on developing a mobile application that enables direct patient feedback to care staff. Brittney said the application was particularly relevant because the hospital’s nurses were on the brink of strike and the hospital had been looking for ways to meet nurse demands.
Combining Her Love for Science and Healthcare
Kelly Potz is the current president of the Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance (MPSA), which brings together student pharmacists from both campuses with a central purpose to promote their growth into excellent pharmacists at the top of their respective fields.
From Patient to Pharmacist
Mahli Von Arx was diagnosed with a chronic disease that requires her to be on medication indefinitely. The care she received as a pharmacy patient gave her the desire to care for patients in the same way.
Learning Lessons Overseas
Mélanie Mahoney attended the 78th FIP World Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Glasgow, Scotland. The intention of the congress is to bring pharmacists from all over the globe to discuss ways to enhance the role of pharmacists, in order to ensure patients and health systems receive the full benefits from the medicines they use.
Rowan Mahon realized that it would be illegal for long-term care facilities in Minnesota to donate medications in the way that 20 other states with repositories are currently doing, and that in order to start a medication repository program in Minnesota, the law had to be changed. Mahon’s passion led her to found the Public Health Advocacy Student Alliance at the college.
Support American Indians In Science And Engineering
Steven Just has passion for working to increase the number of American Indians in higher education, STEM fields, and health-related professions. Just is a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe and Chapter President of the University of Minnesota, Duluth AISES.
Committed to Interprofessional Teamwork
Thu Ha Nguyen represented the University of Minnesota at the National CLARION Interprofessional Healthcare Case Competition. Participating in the CLARION Case Competition led Nguyen to one main takeaway: every profession is unique.
“Stay curious, get involved, and don’t be afraid to stray outside your profession.” That’s the advice Victoria Smith, a third-year student on the Twin Cities campus, has for anyone interested in pharmacy. Growing up near the Mayo Clinic helped her establish a strong interest in health care.
Advocating For The Profession
As MPSA president on the Twin Cities campus, Grace Baek saw how MPhA invests in student development: presentations at MPSA general meetings, scholarships and organization-level support,participation in advocacy through Legislative Day and the Leadership Summit/House of Delegates, and networking at the Annual Learning Networking Event and at national conferences.
Thankful for the Lifelong Friends She Met in Pharmacy School
From the moment Hain stepped on the University of Minnesota campus during her interview day, she felt as if she belonged at the College of Pharmacy.
Serving Medically Underserved Communities
Abdi Bile's reason for getting up every morning is his motivation to help and serve Minnesota’s underserved communities and people of color. When he was starting pharmacy school, polio was making a comeback in Somalia, and just as he was entering his final year in pharmacy school, we had the largest measles epidemic in over a decade right here in the Twin Cities.
Better Quality Of Life
Axel Vazquez-Deida received the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award for his work and leadership in addressing issues such as access to health services, adolescent health, immunization and infectious disease prevention, social determinants of health, tobacco use, substance abuse, and nutrition and weight status.
Big Picture Approach
Peter Balogun quickly learned that managed care was at the center of all the different sectors of pharmacy,understanding the different perspectives of the key players in the healthcare system and having a more holistic approach to the problems our healthcare system faces.
Initiative For Underserved Communities
Vu Ha began the volunteer initiative Socks n’ Sandwiches after developing a strong passion for community work and volunteering in underserved communities at the College of Pharmacy. On the fourth Thursday of each month, Ha and other volunteers make 60 sandwiches and deliver them to local homeless shelters around the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.
Focused On Wellbeing
Emily Schuster focuses her research on improving the wellbeing of herself and others. She was the first student to introduce and implement a wellbeing breakout session at the Benefits Fair and has created tips for how students can boost their happiness levels. She believes that there’s nothing better than boosting others’ moods and talking about happiness.