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STC Student Turns Generational Struggle into Dream Pharmacy School Victory

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Alongside the remarkable achievement of earning her Associate of Science Pre-Pharmacy degree on May 4, Saldana will proudly celebrate her acceptance into her dream school, The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy starting fall 2024. STC Image
Alongside the remarkable achievement of earning her Associate of Science Pre-Pharmacy degree on May 4, Saldana will proudly celebrate her acceptance into her dream school, The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy starting fall 2024. STC Image
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By Sara Reyna

South Texas College graduate Brianna Saldana opens up about the motivation that is fueling her pursuit of a career as a pharmacist as she earned an associate degree in Pre-Pharmacy this past Saturday, May 4.   

She says it was her grandparents, originally from Mexico and without access to health care, and an organic chemistry class, that changed the trajectory of her academic career.  

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Initially pursuing a veterinarian track program in 2019, Saldana explains that her journey to pharmacy school was not clear, until meeting Chemistry professor Enriqueta Cortez, Ph.D., at STC, which ignited her love for chemistry and medicine again. 

She further solidified her future plans of becoming a pharmacist after accepting a pharmacy technician position at a local H-E-B grocery store, which allowed her to gain experience of bridging the RGV community’s needs and health care services, together reminding her of the challenges her grandparents faced when coming to the states, she said. 

STC Image

“My grandparents moved from Mexico to the United States with no access to doctors or health insurance. We spent a lot of time speaking to pharmacists about over-the-counter treatments in many instances,” she shared. “Eventually I started a pharmacy tech position with H-E-B and I got to experience working closely with patients who shared those same struggles, and many needing to see someone that looked like them to build that trust on getting them the treatments they need to get better. After starting my classes at STC, I took an organic chemistry class which validated my love for medicine and from that point forward I knew that I would commit myself to this profession and take the necessary steps to get there.”

Saldana took an active approach to her education becoming the STC Chemistry and Pre-Pharmacy Club president with the goal of working with like-minded students who have a passion for sharing their love of science with community members. 

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Saldana says its programs like STC’s Pre-Pharmacy program that helps motivate students to serve their residents through various networking opportunities such as science demonstrations and community events. Students also benefit from structured curriculum that will set them apart as future medical professionals through conferences and resources accessible to students, which she says ultimately prepared her for pharmacy school. 

Ludivina Avila, Ph.D., program chair, describes how students like Brianna, can seamlessly transfer to various pharmacy programs, equipped with the tools necessary to succeed. 

“Curriculum in this program is structured to meet the prerequisites for pharmacy school admission. With this in mind, students who complete the Pre-Pharmacy program at STC strengthen their academic foundation and enhance their competitiveness for admissions to pharmacy school. Additionally, they receive guidance and mentorship from Chemistry faculty and staff to help navigate the complexities of these processes. Students also gain exposure to the admission office from universities that currently work closely with us such as Texas A&M Pharmacy School at Kingsville, University of Houston, University of Incarnate Word.” 

Alongside the remarkable achievement of earning her Associate of Science Pre-Pharmacy degree on May 4, Saldana proudly celebrates her acceptance into her dream school, the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, embarking on a new journey fall 2024. 

“Being active in the department and working closely with the amazing professors, staff and students in the program, I can truly say that they’ve each impacted me in ways that will carry me through pharmacy school,” said the 27-year-old. “The accessibility to my classes and being able to afford school without having to worry how I’ll be able to make my dream a reality has allowed me to break barriers in my family and I have faced to pay it forward. My future of helping others feel better now looks clearer because of STC.”

To learn more about the Pre-Pharmacy program at STC, visit 

https://www.southtexascollege.edu/academics/pre-pharmacy
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