San Jac Certified: Student embarks on career in pharmacy
12.03.2014 | By Andrea Vasquez
With a name like Alabama Pham, you’re sure to stand out from the crowd. And that’s exactly what her education at San Jacinto College has enabled her to do.
Originally from Vietnam, as one of the final steps to completing the citizenship process, Pham decided on choosing an American name. “The office where I submitted my citizenship paperwork was on Alabama Street, and I just thought that was a beautiful name, so I decided to make it mine,” said Pham.
Now 23, her educational journey first started at Clear Horizons Early College High School (CHECHS) located on the San Jacinto College South Campus. At 16 years old, with her course load consisting of advanced placement high school courses and college-level courses, Pham discovered that she thrived in the rigorous curriculums at both levels. After graduating in 2009 as part of the first CHECHS graduating class, Pham continued attending San Jacinto College and was accepted into the pharmacy technician program where she would begin the first steps to pursuing her career as a pharmacist and educator.
“I would never have been exposed to pharmacy had it not been for San Jacinto College,” said Pham. “San Jacinto College has had so many influential professors, instructors, and tutors that helped me along the way. Dr. Alexander Okwonna was one of the biggest influences in my decision to pursue pharmacy and pharmacy education. He is still a wonderful mentor to me.”
Like many successful students, Pham is a big believer in having a mentor throughout one’s education, and even afterward. “I think having a mentor is very important for any pathway students choose. A mentor has already been in the field. They’re successful, and they know what to expect. They can help you figure out your strengths and give you ideas of how to work on your weaknesses. Having a strong support system is also helpful. I know for me, my husband has been helping so much with our boys so I can go to school and accomplish the goals I have set for myself.”
Now completing her doctorate degree in the Texas Southern University (TSU) pharmacy program, Pham recently found herself back at San Jacinto College doing her academic rotation as part of her degree requirements. She gave several lecture presentations to the College’s pharmacy faculty, as well as a few guest lectures to nursing students about pharmacology, physical therapy assistant students about drugs that can affect physical rehabilitation, and also teaching a section of drug classification and pharmacy practice in the College’s pharmacy program.
“I like baking, so I tell my students to think of as pharmacy baking except you’re using active ingredients,” said Pham. “We have pharmacy logs, so when we’re making certain creams of medications, we follow those ‘recipes.’”
Pham hopes to have dual careers in either retail or hospital pharmacy and teaching in a pharmacy program. “Pharmacists are always educating patients on medications, side effects, and precautions. Ideally, I would like to work part-time in a retail or hospital pharmacy, this way I can teach pharmacy classes, always keeping my students engaged with what the latest medications, regulations, and technologies that are on the market. By keeping up with industry trends, they’ll be assets to any pharmacy company that hires them.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.