Mary Ngo, PharmD

Mary Ngo, PharmD (’19)

My name is Mary Ngo, and I am a Class of 2019 graduate with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a graduate of the Freshman Early Assurance Program (FEAP) at Chapman University. I currently work as an outpatient pharmacist at South Coast Mission Pharmacy, affiliated with Mission Hospital Laguna Beach. I have grown interested in mental health and have been engaged in local community involvements in Orange County that help advocate for self-care, celebrate Asian American culture, and promote pharmacy and interprofessional networking. During my free time, I like to listen to podcasts, create dance choreography, take photos, and engage in weekly coffee shop stops to find the best study spots and drinks!

It was a bit rocky at first upon licensure, but I was working contract and per diem at two interesting places, respectively: one at a remote dispensing start-up, and another at a small independent pharmacy. It was not until January earlier this year that I was contacted back by the manager of my current workplace for an interview. What really caught my interest was that they specialized in helping many local mental health patients who have had substance abuse disorders and other psychiatric conditions and the level of clinical work was more than what I expected of an outpatient pharmacy. Eventually, in the long run, I want to specialize in psychiatry and hope to continue assisting patients in the outpatient setting and eventually precepting students.

Goals as CUSP Alumni Advisory Board Member
As an AAB member, my goal is to establish a strong connection with prospective, current, and past students that engages them to become involved in the CUSP community and its growth in unity. I hope that by solidifying the alumni community and making our presence known, both alumni and students would be able to connect (via social events, mixers, professional events, conferences, etc.) and bring about networking and professional opportunities that will last. Eventually, I hope to bring about ways that students and alumni can connect either through mentorship or preceptorship in future events that will provide beneficial growth for both groups and resources for students as they continue throughout CUSP.

Memories at CUSP
This is a hard question since I can’t just pick one thing! Being part of the FEAP program, I had the pleasure of spending my first two years on the Orange campus where I got to experience college life there prior to CUSP, where I got involved in a lot of organizations. At CUSP, I really enjoyed many events the school and CUSP organizations put on, the events I got to plan and be involved in, and the conferences I went to. Also with APPEs during my final year, I felt as though I was making an impact and they helped me become more proactive in my learning. Doing all this helped me become more open to networking with many people throughout pharmacy school, making new friendships, and learning more about several paths out there in the profession.

Messages to CUSP Alumni and Students
From graduation till today, I still ask myself: “You’re here. Now what?”

I am a very firm believer that what you will do after reaching the pinnacle/momentous point of your life (like finally getting to pharmacy school or graduating) is when things begin to REALLY MATTER, if not already. School is one thing; you’re placed on projects and timelines, but APPE’s/post-graduation is another level and it’s really what YOU make of it. The things I’ve gotten more engaged in (non-profit local organizations, precepting/supervising students and scouts, media projects) during my post-grad period have made my life quite worthwhile!

So if you are graduating this year regardless of where you’re going, if you’re someone currently looking for employment, or if you’re struggling with classes right now, the key is to not be afraid when reality hits hard, stay hungry, and keep going as “this too shall pass”. Post-grad blues during my first 3 months out of Chapman is a typical vibe I believe most other recent post-graduates had felt or still feel now. Don’t be afraid to start from the bottom; you WILL get there, and the journey to get there will REALLY matter because  YOU have full control in making what matters meaningful to you!

This interview has been edited for clarity.