Last weekend, Chapman University School of Pharmacy headed back to Las Vegas for the 2023 Western Pharmacy Exchange (WPE), an annual event that brings together students, professionals, and educators from the western states of America, including Hawaii, Colorado, and Alaska. Hosted by the California Pharmacists Association, our students and faculty were at the forefront of valuable learning opportunities, led presentations, showcased their talents through competitive programming, and took home several wins- Including being honored as a Chapter of Excellence.

The Quiz Bowl was one of many highlights of WPE- Historically, CUSP has placed either first or within the top percentage of all participants, so it was no surprise that Chapman students placed in the Top 3 among all of the other attending institutions. After fierce competition in topics including Cardiology, Travel/Immunization, and Pharmacy Law, the CUSP team found themselves tied for first place with one of the top pharmacy schools in the nation before the final question. Although they ultimately secured third place, CUSP’s PharmD candidates’ impressive performance was a testament to their dedication and commitment to excellence.

CUSP’s Quiz Bowl team accepts the award.

A member of the Quiz Bowl team and PharmD candidate Megan Shieh (‘24) took pride in representing CUSP both in the competition and as a general conference participant. “As a member of the Quiz Bowl team, I was tasked with studying various topics, including CPhA. It was surreal and exciting to network with members of the Board of Trustees, student representatives, and past presidents that I had only known through my Quizlets,” she says. Aside from her participation with her Quiz Bowl teammates, Megan used her attendance at WPE to her full advantage. “Opportunities to meet new people are boundless at WPE, and I highly recommend the future students attend.” A full list of Quiz Bowl participants is at the bottom of this article.

CUSP students supporting Vivian Ly and the CAPSLEAD teams

WPE also serves as a landmark for the Chapman California Pharmacy Student Leadership Program (CAPSLEAD). As one of 11 participating schools, Chapman offers this year-long program for a select handful of P1 and P2 students as a leadership training program that balances personal growth with a research opportunity that addresses critical issues in the pharmacy profession.  For Inna Tagarino (‘24), her primary reason for attending the conference was to present her team’s findings. “It was rewarding finally being able to present our research on immunizers’ comfortability vaccinating pediatric patients at the poster exhibition and motivate the 2023-2024 CAPSLEAD team as they begin their project in our footsteps.” A complete list of CAPSLEAD team members for Co’24 and Co’25 is available at the bottom of the article.

While not a member of the CAPSLEAD team, Vivian Ly (’24) took the opportunity to do an encore presentation of her individual research, which first debuted at the American Pharmacists Association in March. “Right across the CUSP CAPSLEAD poster, and I was able to talk about the relevance of my research to significantly more practitioners and faculty this time,” says Vivian.

Chapman staff rose to the occasion to provide learning opportunities for the conference participants by leading presentations and discussions catering to various interests. Dr. Brian Kawahara’s “Tick tock! Time to exert your control of 1,440 minutes” and Dr. Kathleen Besinque’s “Can you help me? The Pharmacists role in providing contraception services” attracted many attendees. These industry professionals from Chapman Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential Education provided valuable insights, allowing both students and the greater pharmacy community to gain a deeper understanding of the strategies needed to succeed in the ever-evolving pharmacy field. Our students also took the opportunity to attend other speakers’ programming, including the “Career Roundtable” and “Strategies for Success in Pharmacy as a Student”.

Students in attendance stand next to a banner that names CUSP as a 2023 “Chapter of Excellence”

The conference celebrated the creative talents of student pharmacists with the Student Pharmacists Film Festival. CUSP emerged victorious, winning “Most Entertaining”. Vivian Ly (’24) and Celine Tran (‘25) humbly accepted the award on behalf of CUSP, solidifying our students’ reputation as skilled storytellers. “It was an honor being able to accept this award! Our board worked really hard!” says Celine. “I am so proud of the APhA Exec Board and would like to give them a special shout-out for all the hard work we’ve done this term.”

WPE 2023 served as a platform for collaboration, learning, and personal growth. It showcased the dedication and achievements of the CAPSLEAD team, fostered meaningful connections through networking opportunities, and recognized the exceptional talents of student pharmacists. Just as Megan encouraged, Journey Cordero is already looking forward to next year. “I had so much fun attending my first WPE conference! It was so heartwarming to see over 25 students coming all the way out from Irvine to represent Chapman.” The conference undoubtedly left attendees motivated and eager to make a lasting impact in the pharmacy profession. As the curtains closed on WPE 2023, it left an indelible mark on everyone who attended, inspiring them to continue striving for excellence and innovation in the ever-evolving field of pharmacy.

Executive Board of APhA accepts the trophy for the chapter’s award-winning video submission.

  1. 2022-2023 CAPSLEAD team, Co’24: Nikki Derleth, Rosa Le, Tristian Domingo, Inna Tagarino, Bryy Le, Elyn Lam, Anabelle Gantman
  2. 2023-2024 CAPSLEAD team, Co’25: Mark Ubongen, Veronica Ninh, Brenda Kilzi, Ariana Royzman, Jasmine Cho, Amelia Monfared, Tupak Aguirre, Riya Sidgal
  3. Quiz Bowl team: Tali Faggiano (‘24), Nikki Derleth (‘24), Mason Myers (‘23), Megan Shieh (‘24), Mirna Mikhail (‘24). Alternatives were Mulan Homo (‘24) and Charlene Chai (‘24).

Pictures were kindly provided by students, Dr. Brian Kawahara, and Dr. Emmanuelle Schwartzman. Video content shown in related content is provided by Rosa Le.