Most Viewed Stories
MHS grads are doctorate candidates
Several Porterville students attending the University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences have one thing in common — four are candidates for a doctorate of pharmacy degree with the Class of 2013, the fifth student graduated in May.
But what makes it interesting is that the students learned they were all Monache High School alumni — after beginning the program.
The group of five — Chintah Shah, the only MHS 2007 graduate amongst the group, and Janice Guzman, Jennifer Rodriguez, Michael Conner and Carly Ranson, all 2005 MHS graduates — were not close friends in high school and all went separate ways following graduations.
Guzman headed for UC Merced, Rodriguez to Porterville College before transferring to California State University Bakersfield, and Ranson to PC and Fresno State.
Conner and Shah entered the six-year pre pharmacy program, but two years apart. They met in the undergraduate program at UOP. Conner also said he knew Rodriguez was heading to the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences from his mother since both of their mothers work together. But he was not aware of the rest.
“I had heard rumors when I first got in that there were other Monache students,” Ranson said. “Then they all started showing up. It was exciting. Three of us sat in class together.”
By 2010 — the school had five Porterville residents — all of them graduates of Monache High.
“We were all pretty shocked,” Rodriguez said.
Before they knew it, all five began hanging out and helping each other out.
“We called ourselves ‘559 Reps.’ It was good for our morale,” Shah said. “We were a team unit. We started taking our picture together.”
They did not see each other as competition.
“It’s funny how much we all reference Porterville,” Ranson said. “We’re pretty proud of our town and where we came from.”
Monache High is also proud.
“Monache has had a strong tradition of academic excellence and these five are exceptional role models of what Monache High School is all about,” said principal Richard Smithey. “It’s important we let our student body know how hard work pays off and leads you to success.”
But the success comes with a lot of work.
Rodriguez said she’s handled it by taking one day at a time.
“It’s hard to look at the big picture. I’m still not done. But looking back, I’m shocked at how much I’ve grown and learned,” she said. “It’s amazing how much I know and realize how capable I am.”
Rodriguez said she still recalls calling her family when she first began the program, telling them she couldn’t do it.
“Now I know I can go so much farther than I realized,” she said.
Each student had their own perspective on what the program has meant for them.
“UOP is ahead of the curve and focused on leadership, innovation and advocacy for progress. The personal growth and leadership growth is more than anything I ever expected. There is a lot of opportunity for leadership growth,” Conner said. “It’s definitely more rewarding than I ever thought, but did come with a little more work too.”
Guzman called her journey a learning experience.
“It’s an unconventional role for me as a Filipino, but what made it more comfortable is that I had people I knew from Porterville,” Guzman said.
For Ranson, the most surprising thing she learned was how broad the field is.
“I took a medicare class on medication review,” she said. “That’s what geared me to work with the elderly. I’ve always wanted to work with the elderly.”
Shah referred to the University of the Pacific as family.
“We support each other, not try to get better grades than each other. We all help each other out,” Shah said. “It was overwhelming at first. When I first started, it was like a bunch of broken puzzle pieces. But now we’re able to see the full picture.”
No matter how difficult, one thing got them through it — family.
Ranson said her parents, Chuck and Kelly Ranson, and sisters, Christy and Bethany, have been supportive.
“We all have supportive parents,” she said.
Rodriguez, daughter of Lydia and Javier Rodriguez, and sibling of Marilyn, Jose and Rosalie; and Michael’s parents, Jhin and Warren, and siblings, John, Jeannie and Yoon, are also proud and supportive of them, they said. The same can be said of her family — parents Filomena and Jaime, and brother, Jan Phillip, said Guzman.
Shah, son of Dipak and Mayvrika Shah, is following in his father’s footsteps — his father is a pharmacist in Visalia. his brother, Keval, a 2003 MHS graduate, is also a medical doctor.
Conner, who will be taking state and national exams by September, hopes to have his pharmacy doctorate soon — but the other four are headed towards one of their toughest academic years. The other four students are heading towards several six-week hospital rotations that will be completed from Bakersfield to Fresno, and for Shah, in Santa Barbara and Newport Beach.
“They’re all going to do very well,” Conner said, having finished the program and then talked to them. “It’s not what you expect. You have to be at the hospital for eight hours but then you have to study. But you’ll enjoy it because what you are studying is for the patient the next day. You won’t know all the answers, but you’ll know where to get them.”
Once they graduate, an array of opportunities — teaching academics, retail, individual ownership, residency and clinical pharmacy — will open, Conner said.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.