Between her undergraduate and PharmD programs, Tran took two gap years. During the first year, Tran worked as a lab technician and began volunteering and working at an independent retail pharmacy that specializes in HIV medications. This experience solidified Tran's passion to work with underserved communities.
"I liked working with underserved communities because it is very complex. You're just one piece of the puzzle with pharmacy; one piece of how someone is going to get better or be well in their daily life."
In her work as a lab technician, Tran worked closely with HIV+ patients, some of whom identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community, and some of whom were people without housing. By working with these underserved communities, Tran had the opportunity to learn about the organizations they are affiliated with, such as various social programs, as well as how to better serve such communities.
Tran was the recipient of the Peters Scholarship For Future Practitioners in Underserved Communities upon her acceptance to the College of Pharmacy as a result of this experience. "The scholarships helped solidify why I went to pharmacy school and how I've taken my foundational skills to look for other opportunities where I could still help underserved communities or learn more about the complex healthcare system — What really goes into helping communities versus individuals? How many factors are at play?" said Tran.
In her second gap year, Tran participated as a Language and Culture Assistant, for which she helped facilitate bilingual courses for Spanish high school students in Spain, and began to apply for pharmacy school. After a year in Spain, Tran came to the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
During her PharmD program, Tran had the opportunity to participate in a Student Exchange Program in Mexico with the International Pharmaceutical Students' Federation. The trip was made possible for Tran due the Judd Fellowship funding she received.
The Exchange Program was a great experience for Tran for two reasons. She has long been interested in public health, and global health was another topic she wanted to learn more about. Since there is not a direct pathway into becoming a global health pharmacist, she thought this was a prime opportunity to learn more about global health and connect with other pharmacy students. Additionally, after studying Spanish throughout undergrad and spending the year prior in Spain, Tran was itching to travel again. She had wanted to further immerse herself in the Spanish language and learn more about Mexican culture.
Tran's experiences in the classroom and in the community have solidified her passion for pharmacy and deepened her understanding of the ways in which pharmacists can help those they work with.
"Throughout pharmacy school I have really learned how much impact a pharmacist can make. Over these past few years, I have learned that pharmacists are really valuable in different aspects of the healthcare system. That's kind of what I've grown to love learning about—how we can influence populations and communities, and just have that greater impact."