Meet the Ambassador – Ashlyn Norris

Meet Ashlyn! She attended Georgia Tech for undergrad, and felt that getting her bachelor’s degree helped prepare her for pharmacy school. Now she’s enjoying all the opportunities at the School, including being involved in conducting research on HIV.

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Ashlyn Norris, Class of 2019, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Bemus Point, NY
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree, Georgia Tech


If you could have an endless supply of any one type of food, what would you choose?
I would love to have an endless supply of chocolate sweets; chocolate chip cookies, brownies, candy bars, hot chocolate, basically any thing that contains any type of chocolate would be fine with me!

If you had one extra hour each day, how would you use it?
If I had an extra hour each day, I would use it to call or Skype my friends and family. Growing up in New York and going to college in Georgia, I have loved ones all over the country that I do not get to see or talk to nearly as much as I would like with my busy schedule.


What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
If I could go back, I would want to gain more experience in a pharmacy setting by working in a pharmacy. I feel that having that type of experience would make learning and understanding the language of pharmacy much easier at first, than it was with no past experience.

What experience from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I believe that getting my bachelor degree and completing 4 years of undergrad best prepared me for pharmacy school. Having an extra year or two to mature and take more difficult upper level courses helped me to prepare for the rigor and fast pace of a professional program.


What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
My favorite experience at ESOP thus far has been being presented with all of the opportunities that the school as to offer. Whether its shadowing professionals at the top of their field, research opportunities with world class scientist, volunteer opportunities that allow you to make a real difference in peoples lives, leadership positions in the numerous student organizations or simply connecting with outstanding alumni.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
I am most interested in clinical pharmacy and pharmaceutical research. I currently conduct research on HIV and am interested in pursuing infectious disease as a speciality.


Have more questions for Ashlyn? Feel free to send her an email: amnorris@email.unc.edu

Meet the Ambassador – Claire Bugner

Meet Claire! She is a big fan of avocado, and feels that her background in international studies and Spanish in undergrad prepared her to think differently in pharmacy school.

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Claire Bugner, Class of 2018, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Kingwood, TX
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree, Louisiana State University


If you could have an endless supply of any one type of food, what would you choose?
I think I would choose an endless supply of avocado. Avocados are something that I would never get tired of, and that can be used in multiple ways. I like avocado in soup, in salad, by itself, with eggs, you name it! The list could go on…

If you won a lottery ticket for $100 million dollars, what would you do with it?
After ensuring the necessities of family and close friends were taken care of, I would use a large chunk of the money to travel. I traveled during and after college, but there are so many places that I have yet to see (in the US, South America, Asia, Europe, basically all over). I would bring along a travel buddy to help share in the experiences. I would probably space the travel out across a few years, with breaks in between to get back to reality- although I’m sure in a few years I would only scratch the surface.

If you had one extra hour each day, how would you use it?
I don’t think I could designate the extra hour each day for anything in particular; it would have to depend on the specific day. Some days I want more sleep (but most days I make sure to get 7-8 hours), some days I wish I had just one more hour to go to the gym, others it’s that last hour of cramming on the night before the exam. Most days I wouldn’t complain about having an extra hour!


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I started out college knowing I wanted to go into the medical field, but I wasn’t sure what specific path I wanted to take. During my freshman year I decided on pre-med and took all the basic science courses, although I changed my major to international studies and Spanish. During my junior year I decided that maybe I didn’t want to go to med school, and I began talking to a friend who was interested in pharmacy school. After talking to her and various doctors and pharmacists, I decided pharmacy school was right for me. I enjoy the challenge and problem solving that pharmacy entails, as well as the requirement for continual learning.

What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. Some people think I’m crazy for graduating with a humanities and social sciences degree and then going to pharmacy school, but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed learning about various cultures and histories in undergrad, but I also took the core science courses. Sometimes in class I feel like some of my classmates already know things from their previous science majors, but I never feel at a disadvantage. Our professors are great at teaching us everything we need to know, and I am glad to have my diverse background.

What experience from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I really did enjoy my science classes in undergrad- biochem, genetics, chemistry, etc. But ironically, I think my International Studies courses did a great job preparing me for pharmacy school. They taught me how to synthesize multiple topics and information into a cohesive product, and because they were small and discussion-based classes they helped me form valuable communication and argumentation skills. I use these abilities all the time in pharmacy school, and I’m sure I will continue to use them into my career.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Talk to as many different people as you can to get different perspectives and see if pharmacy is right for you. Each person may have different insight that can help you form your decision. Additionally, pharmacy is a huge field, and there are more opportunities than you can imagine. Have an open mind, and try everything out to figure out what is best for you.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I had applied to UNC for undergrad, but ended up staying closer to home at LSU. I have always loved North Carolina, because of the weather (Texas and Louisiana are hot!) and because of UNC’s reputation and beauty. The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy has a great reputation as well, but I chose the school because of how I felt on Candidate’s Day. I was very impressed with the program and felt like I could find a home here. I also felt like the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy could offer opportunities in my education that other schools simply did not have the resources to offer.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
I think one of the most challenging parts of pharmacy school is getting used to the shear workload and learning how to individualize your study techniques. Pharmacy school simply requires more studying than undergrad due to the amount of material we learn, and that is something you will learn very quickly. What makes this a bit difficult is that you are surrounded by bright students who are all capable of handling the work – but each person has their own study style. Some can handle a job, others can be involved in multiple student organizations; you have to go through trial and error to figure out what works best for you.


Have more questions for Claire? Feel free to send her an email: claire_bugner@unc.edu

Meet the Ambassador – Ryan Ragan

Meet Ryan! Originally from Minnesota, Ryan was excited about the curriculum at UNC, and has enjoyed being able to attend national pharmacy conferences in his first year.

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Ryan Ragan, Class of 2019, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Shakopee, Minnesota
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree, Gustavus Adolphus College


If they made a movie of your life, which actor would you cast to play you?
I would cast Josh Hutcherson to play me because I feel like that he has enough positivity to capture the way I try to live my life and I feel like he would look good without hair as well.

If you could have an endless supply of any one type of food, what would you choose?
I would choose an endless supply of smoothies because they are a delicious year-round treat and the diversity of flavors and nutritional benefits are endless.

If you won a lottery ticket for $100 million dollars, what would you do with it?
I would invest $75 million in stocks and live on the interest, with the guidance of a financial planner/stock broker, and I would use the rest of the money to pay off my student loans and pay off any outstanding loans my friends and family members have.

If you had one extra hour each day, how would you use it?
I would use it to workout on most days, sleep on the other days.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
Learning about steroids and synthetic compounds in human anatomy and physiology class in high school initially sparked my interest in the field of pharmacy. Then more research into the field for job outlook and work-life balance convinced me that pharmacy was a career that I would enjoy.

What experience from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
Serving as co-president of Tri-Beta Biological Honors Society at Gustavus best prepared me for pharmacy school by honing on skills of time-management ahead of starting pharmacy school and joining extracurricular organizations.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Complete the PharmCAS application as soon as possible utilizing multiple reviewers for preparation of your personal statement.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
The new, experience-based curriculum excited me and the opportunity to be taught by some of the best educators in the world were what sold me on the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
My favorite experience at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy was the AMCP Nexus conference in Orlando, FL. This was my first conference experience and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the conference, not to mention how delicious the meals were at the Gaylord Palms hotel and convention center.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
The most challenging part of pharmacy school has been properly managing my time to balance student organization involvement, work, classroom performance, and personal wellness.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
I am most interested in clinical pharmacy, specifically pediatrics, cardiology, and hematology/oncology.

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
A successful pharmacy student at the Eshelman School of Pharmacy is efficient and effective in their time use while being well-organized to handle the variety of assignments given out.


Have more questions for Ryan? Feel free to send him an email: rragan@unc.edu

Meet the Ambassador – Prutha Lavani

Meet Prutha! She knows the importance of time management, finished her prerequisite courses in 2 years at UNC Chapel Hill, and wishes she had more time in her day for yoga!

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Prutha Lavani, Class of 2017, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Cary, North Carolina
Prior Education: 2 years, UNC Chapel Hill


If you could have an endless supply of any one type of food, what would you choose?
Ben & Jerry’s Milk & Cookies…bring on the diabetes

If they made a movie of your life, which actress would you cast to play you?
Emma Stone

If you had one extra hour each day, how would you use it?
Do some yoga and try to collect my thoughts to prevent myself from being so scatter-brained


What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
Since I only did 2 years of undergrad, I spent most of my time trying to juggle a full course load and working. I wish I had gotten more hands-on experience across different types of pharmacy (industry, retail) and doing research before pharmacy school.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Keep an open mind – don’t say no to any opportunities and take the time to reach out to those that have offered you their help. And get organized! It never hurts to build good habits early.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I attended a recruitment event at the school as a high school student where I was mesmerized by all the different opportunities within pharmacy and technology utilized by the school. During undergrad, I had a pharmacy student mentor that shared with me the expertise of the faculty and collegiality of classmates. After attending an open house where everyone was warm, welcoming, and driven, I decided that UNC was the only place for me.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
Time management – there’s so much to do within pharmacy school: classwork, organizations, research, meetings and you have to remember to block off time for family, friends, hobbies, and sleeping. Sometimes it can be difficult to find time in one day to handle all of it.


Have more questions for Prutha? Feel free to send her an email: prutha_lavani@unc.edu

The fast track or the traditional track – Part 3

The PharmD program is unique in that applicants do not need to have completed a bachelor’s degree before starting. Approximately 20% of each incoming class does not hold a bachelor’s degree. They enter the PharmD program after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study – however long it takes to complete the prerequisite coursework.

One of the most common questions we get is in regards to whether an applicant should complete their bachelor’s degree or forgo their bachelor’s and apply early. This is a challenging question, because there is no clear cut answer! Two weeks ago, I wrote about the benefits to being on the fast track, and last week I wrote about the benefits of being on the traditional track. This week, I’m wrapping up this series with some final thoughts.


Ultimately, whether you decide to finish your bachelor’s degree or not before starting pharmacy school is a very personal and difficult choice. There are many factors to consider when making the decision, and the decision might be different for each student. While we certainly see more students starting our program after completing their bachelor’s degree, we have many successful students who complete their prerequisite courses in 2-3 years, and are ready to enter our program afterwards. Whether you’re thinking of taking the fast track or the traditional track, we hope that you take the time to consider the benefits to each side. Which route is the best one for you?