Growing up in her hometown of San Jose, Calif., Christina Nguyen (Pharm.D. ’22) witnessed poverty firsthand. Lack of access to adequate health care — and the tools and resources people need to advocate for their health — stood out the most. This early experience gave rise to what would become her enduring purpose: Using the power of science to give a voice — and better health — to the most vulnerable.
“I’ve always been interested in helping vulnerable members in the community — volunteering at shelters and working with veterans — because they need someone to advocate for them,” she says.
Now, Nguyen is a doctoral candidate in the Chapman School of Pharmacy (CUSP), where she also serves as president of CUSP’s California Society of Health-System Pharmacists (CSHP-SSHP) student chapter and co-chair for the CSHP Student Section Executive Council (SSEC). In these roles, she has led her board in successfully hosting multiple residency preparation, professional development and networking workshops and community outreach events, such as a COVID-transmission information campaign at local schools. She also holds leadership positions at the state and regional levels of CSHP.
But among Nguyen’s proudest achievements is a social media campaign hosted during her CSHP-SSHP presidency that raised more than $28,000 for the “Pharmacists for Black Lives Matter” campaign in June 2020.
“All the pharmacy student organizations collaborated and thought it was important to fundraise and advocate for the community,” Nguyen says. “Our community is what makes us feel connected to each other and contributing to something greater than ourselves. We want to advocate not just for our patients, but for everyone.”
In October, Nguyen’s leadership was recognized by the CSHP Student Leadership in Health System Practice Award, which recognizes students with an interest in health-system pharmacy practice who have demonstrated outstanding leadership ability.
“Christina is definitely a one-of-a-kind student leader who is very creative and goes above and beyond to help the marginalized communities,” says Jerika Lam, Pharm.D., associate professor of pharmacy practice. “During the pandemic, when health fairs and community outreach activities were prohibited, Christina found ways to engage her peers in advocating for their profession and for social justice causes, such as the Black Lives Matter and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) anti-hate campaigns.”
When Nguyen graduates this spring, she plans to leverage her Chapman education to pursue ambulatory care pharmacy, a field in which pharmacists work one-on-one with patients performing medication reconciliation, looking holistically at a patient’s lifestyle and collaborating with patients to make medication adjustments.
Ambulatory care is a highly patient-oriented field, describes Nguyen. “It puts patients at the center of their care [and takes] a holistic view of the patient, including behavior management and empowering them to get to their goals.”
As she looks toward Commencement, Nguyen reflects on her time at Chapman and the factors that led her to choose the Chapman School of Pharmacy two years ago. She was drawn to the personalized attention CUSP offers and the hands-on research opportunities available to pharmacy students.
“From my interview, I could see that the faculty were passionate and very involved. The class size is smaller than at other universities, and I like that I’m able to build relationships with faculty and peers closely,” Nguyen says. “Someone was always there to help me — I wasn’t just one student among many. My mentors guided and supported me to become involved in order to stand out.”