Southern California Pre-Pharmacy Symposium

Yesterday had to be one of my favorite days. Since there was so much we did, I will break it up into time periods!
There is a lot of words and people I do not expect you to know (because I didn’t even know them until yesterday), so I will have a footnote glossary at the bottom you all can refer to! (Words with definitions will be underlined.)


Everyone was outside in their business attire to get ready to drive off to San Diego for the SoCal Pre-Pharmacy Symposium. On the way there, I bonded with the driver and we had a great time! We got lost a few times (my fault), but it was nothing a quick U-turn couldn’t fix!


The keynote speaker, Dr. Susie Park, was amazing. Every second her mouth moved, she inspired me to get more into the pharmacy field. These are some key points that I took away from her address:

  • When we buy medicine, as pre-pharmacy students (or future pharmacists), why did we buy that medicine? Why did we choose or get prescribed this one drug over the other 13 that do the same thing?
  • Whenever she addressed someone, she would ask for their last name and call us “Future Dr. [Last Name]”. Hearing “Future Dr. Burton” just made me feel better about myself. I felt respected by someone that is so respected in her field!
  • She works with people that have Hep C which has a cure: Harvoni*!
  • She was amazing

11am-12:30: Morning Workshops

Each person prior to getting to the symposium signed up for four workshops throughout the day. The morning workshops composed of only going to two out of the four choices for the morning. My first two sessions were on biotechnology and oncology pharmacy.

I did not learn much from the biotech session. The pharmacologist basically read slides that did not have much meaning to me. In my defense, I did not know what I signed up for, but I came out there just as confused as I did going in. I did take note of the position of a Medical Science Liaison, which was mentioned earlier by Dr. Park in her keynote speech.

In the oncology pharmacy, she told us her story from undergrad to running an oncology clinic as the first and only pharmacist they had. She had to establish her position as the pharmacist but also as another team member.
Her talk on oncology pharmacy actually got me to consider becoming an oncology pharmacist!

12:30pm-2pm: Luncheon

The luncheon was great. The food did not matter. I got a chance to sit at the table with the keynote speaker and Peter Dean. Dr. Park and Mr. Dean were representing USC School of Pharmacy, but they were there to hear about us and what we are doing in our undergrad. We went around the table and introduced ourselves. When she got to the UCLA students, I felt each of us had revelations, each listed below:

  • A 4th year UCLA PPS student found out that there was a cure for Hep C which meant a lot to her. She also found out that there was a Team HBV on UCLA’s campus!
  • She talked to me about what options I have for my future. She also commended me on my advocacy for mental health among college students.
  • The last student had a revelation with all of us. She told us that there was groundbreaking pharmaceutical advancements going on our campus and, as Pre-Pharmacy students, we should have knowledge of. To her dismay, we did not know about this and she encouraged us to push to be able to see what is going on outside of our doors.

The luncheon then became a Q and A session when other students picked up on who she was and where she was sitting. In a way, I felt they dimmed the light bulbs going off on all of our heads, but they will never be able to take away from her what we had for that hour of intimate table talk.

2:10pm-3:40: Afternoon Workshops

The afternoon workshops I went to were psychiatric pharmacy and a student panel.

The psychiatric pharmacy panel was taught by none other than Dr. Park. She dropped knowledge bomb after bomb and her talk on psych pharmacy got people considering it! I answered a few of her questions because of my extra studying in psychology, but everyone was mesmerized by her talk. She has the propensity to go over her allotted time, but she was worth every second over.

The student panel I did not take much from. It mirrored what happens at my pre-pharmacy club meetings; so there was not much to say.

4pm-5pm: Pictures and School Fair

Everyone in SCPPS, however many students and schools were there, got together and took a picture at the arc in SDSU’s student union. Once we get the picture, I will post it here!

Later, we had a school fair where pharmacy school’s tried to sell us on their programs and perks with information and free stuff!

After that, the three cars that came here were headed to different places. One car wanted to go back to UCLA. One car wanted to stay at the fair a bit longer. My car wanted to get tacos.


We went to Tacos El Gordo and I had to say those tacos were amazing! By the time we finished eating, the car that stayed at the school fair decided to join us, but we wanted to leave. I thought we were going back to UCLA, but no. We were on our way to an ice cream place that was closed, but then found another 5 star place that was pretty cheap in Chula Vista. Botanas Locas was the greatest way to end the day. We each got something different and it all looked so beautiful. The guy noticed that it was our first time here and upgraded our drinks/desserts for free! We posted them on social media and told our friends about it. I wish we lived down there because I would have loved to try everything on the menu.

We finally decided that it was time to get back to UCLA. On the way back, we passed a fair and decided if we didn’t have to study that we would have gone for a few rides. We are still young!


The drive back to UCLA from SD was quiet, but the driver and I had an ongoing conversation that was endless. Everyone in the car bonded and it was everything I could have asked for!

I am so glad that I went to my first SCPPS! Next year will be even better I hope!

If anyone has questions about specifics, I am more than willing to answer it (to the best of my ability)!


Southern California Pre-Pharmacy Symposium: the 7th annual Pre-Pharmacy student convention for Southern California held at Sad Diego State University.

Hep C: an infection caused by a virus that leads to inflammation of the liver. It is estimated that 3 to 4 million people have it.

Biotechnology: combining biological processes with technology for industrial use. Usually to produce antibiotics and other drugs.

Oncology pharmacy: pharmacy dealing with cancer care. Oncology pharmacists can take on many tasks from delivering chemotherapy to safety checks.

Pharmacologistscientist who conducts research experiments and tests drugs to study their effects on animals and humans

Medical Science Liaison: someone with advanced scientific knowledge in the life sciences to educate their clients on medicine and other treatments. This field is growing in the pharmaceutical field and shows the mastery of pharmacy knowledge.

Team HBV: a UCLA organization that aids in fighting Hep B, an incurable disease similar to Hep C; however, Hep B can be prevented with a vaccination.

Psychiatric pharmacy: pharmacy dealing with psychiatric illness. This job entails diagnosing, treating, and monitoring patients in psych wards and other settings.


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