I moved here to the United States from Vietnam when I was a 10-year-old. I got my undergraduate degree in health sciences from Drexel. During that time, I became interested in pharmacology and physiology because I lost my dad to cancer. He was on so many treatments like chemotherapy, and it made me interested to find out what he was taking. I had wanted to go to medical school, but my perspective changed after I saw how his treatment went. I wanted to understand what all those medications with the weird names did.
At my interview I met everyone in the Pharmacology & Physiology program. They were very welcoming and the environment was very supportive. I felt that I would be able to achieve my goals there. I also wanted to stay in Philly to support my mom. We don’t have any relatives in the area and she doesn’t speak English, so I did not think I could leave her. I went on the College of Medicine website and saw that the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology has the 4D Fellowship. I looked at the description and thought I might not be qualified, because Asians are not considered a minority in science. But first-generation immigrants and low-income students are, so I decided to apply. Everything happened very fast. I interviewed for the program and then got my acceptance a week later. Then I applied for the fellowship and found out the next week that I was accepted for that. I was so excited.
In the future, I may want to go to medical school, but financially it’s hard. In addition to that cost, I have a lot of loans from undergrad. After my master’s I want to go out, find a job, earn a salary and help my mom. She did a lot for me, so I want to give her something back. Later on, I may pursue more education, but right now my goal is financial independence.
So far the program has been a roller coaster. There have been some great moments, some smiles, but also some tears. In this program we have to take core courses like biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics, for example. It was very hard but not impossible. And I passed! Next semester the courses will be more specific to pharmacology and physiology. It’s been a very supportive environment. I know I can go to a professor and express my fears that I might fail. I’ve also made some friends that are very supportive of me. It’s important to have someone there in the hard times.
The 4D Fellowship program has helped me financially so much. The stipend is wonderful. In a master’s program, to be able to have a privilege like this fellowship is hard to find. My friends in master’s programs are having to pay their own tuition, so I am so happy to have gotten this scholarship. I feel more financially stable. It has helped me a lot, and also allowed me to support my mom. Career-wise it is also helpful. After I graduate, I will have one and a half years of experience working in the industry. It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside the professionals at a place like Janssen.