Not even 30 years old, Dr. Judy Weng has accomplished what only few could dream of- two doctorate degrees, an incredible CV of research and teaching, and a career lined up that balances her passions and her childhood dream.

“If I were to do it all over again, I would choose Chapman,” she says. “Being a smaller school, Chapman offers world-class education in a supportive and welcoming environment. One of the best parts of being a student at Chapman is the access to your professors. The professors know you by name, are approachable and go the extra mile to help you succeed.”

Dr. Weng’s journey through academia is a unique one- She is the first person to graduate through APEx (2017), Doctor of Pharmacy (2020), and PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences (2023), all through Chapman University School of Pharmacy.

It wasn’t Dr. Weng’s initial idea to pursue her PhD, especially not directly after receiving her first doctoral degree. “I entered pharmacy school thinking I would end up being a community pharmacist at CVS,” she says, “I was interested in pursuing something in healthcare that would allow me to educate others, but not physically touch the patient. Pharmacy fit into that criteria perfectly.” Despite initially envisioning a career in retail pharmacy, her path took an unexpected turn in between the summer she finished her APEx program and when she began her PharmD in 2017. With the guidance of her APEx advisor, Dr. Weng inquired with Dr. Ajay Sharma‘s lab if there were any opportunities for her to become involved in research. She worked in Dr. Sharma’s lab all of that summer, and on and off throughout her time as a PharmD student when her class and work schedule allowed.

During the final year of her PharmD education, she had the opportunity to do an APPE research rotation with Dr. Sharma. “With the research rotation, I was in the laboratory 8 hours a day for 6 full weeks.”

Over the years, Dr. Weng began carrying out her own experiments in Dr. Sharma’s lab. Her depth of technical and practical knowledge in wet lab research was formed through the mentorship of Dr. Sharma and his own passion for student success. For her capstone project, Dr. Weng had the opportunity to present research in Honolulu, Hawaii on corneal crystallins at the annual Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) conference. “I am forever grateful to Dr. Sharma for his support and mentorship during my time at CUSP and will cherish the memories of my time spent in his laboratory.”

It was during her time with Dr. Sharma’s lab during her APPE rotation that she realized she had a true passion for research, and applied for the PhD program. “Pursuing a PhD was a really rewarding experience, because it allowed me to strengthen my presenting, scientific writing, and critical thinking skills. In addition, I had the incredible opportunity to conduct experiments in the laboratory with cutting-edge technology and present my findings to world-renowned scientists at conferences.”

Obtaining a PharmD prepares students for a career as pharmacists in clinical settings, and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences prepares students for research-based careers in drug discovery and development, but what doors does having both a PharmD and PhD open? “Both degrees open doors for countless career paths, but having both a PharmD and PhD allows me to utilize my clinical background and scientific critical thinking skills to identify clinically-relevant issues and conduct research aimed at solving these problems.” For Dr. Weng, those two degrees landed her a position as an Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Marshall B. Ketchum University College of Pharmacy.

Growing up in a family of teachers, education was always a path Dr. Weng considered. Throughout high school, she tutored at her school’s after school tutoring center in a range of topics including biology and algebra, and even won two awards for her outstanding support. “My students told me that I have a talent for explaining hard concepts in a way that is easy to understand.” Throughout the APEx program and her doctoral programs, Dr. Weng continued to support student learning, and eventually completed the Teaching Certificate program through CUSP and was appointed Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pharmacy for the PharmD program.

Dr. Judy Weng has certainly left her mark on Chapman University. From founding the Chinese American Pharmacists Student Association, engaging in research and leadership roles, and advocating for diverse career pathways, Dr. Weng seized every chance to expand her horizons. Now serving as a faculty member at Marshall B. Ketchum University, she’s ready to take her dedication to teaching to the next level and pay forward the attention, respect, and mentorship her CUSP faculty gave her. “As a faculty member, I am excited to educate future pharmacists and continue to conduct research on the ocular surface. I aim to continue my love for learning while developing invaluable skills as a teacher, health care provider and researcher.”

“Chapman has been my home for the last 8 years and I am so proud to be a Chapman alumni.”