Dr. Mary Ngo (Pharm.D. ’19) – School of Pharmacy
Dr. Mary Ngo was a member of the inaugural Freshman Early Assurance Program for Chapman’s School of Pharmacy that began in 2014, and attended Chapman for both undergraduate and pharmacy graduate programs. She completed her Doctor of Pharmacy in 2019. Currently, she works as a pharmacist serving patients in south Orange County, including some in mental rehabilitation facilities that treat patients for substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. Since graduating, Dr. Ngo serves on the CUSP Alumni Advisory Board and has recently become an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pharmacy. She also remains involved in several community based non-profit health-care organizations in Orange County. Dr. Ngo enjoys supporting and promoting student-new practitioner mentorship and facilitates community-based health fairs. Her goal is to become a certified psychiatric pharmacist as she has a passion to break mental health stigmas in Asian-American culture. She has created the “Carecast” podcast, providing opportunities for advocates and professionals to share words of empowerment and advice to promote self-care, and promotes mental well-being for healthcare professionals.
Q&A with Dr. Mary Ngo
We asked this year’s winners about their experiences at Chapman and what advice they have for current students.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why?
Many professors I’ve gotten to work with or learn under at Chapman’s School of Pharmacy had such an amazing impact on me and have shown me what pharmacists are capable of. I would specifically say that Dr. Albert Bach and Dr. Mary Gutierrez have had a lot of influence on me in school. I used to be in Chapman’s American Pharmacist Association chapter and Dr. Bach was my advisor as well as my preceptor for my final year rotation in academia. Not only that, he has been involved in a lot of local and state organizations and it’s amazing to see all that he’s involved in and putting in a lot of effort into also helping students out! When I had my psychiatry class my first year, I loved how interactive and engaged Dr. Gutierrez has been through teaching her students and how supportive she’s been in co-curricular involvements as well. She definitely got me a lot more engaged in the topic, which is now the field I’m involved in!
If you could go back and experience one moment from your time at Chapman, what would it be? Is there anything that you would do differently?
Earlier in school, I didn’t take too many chances to network like I’ve been doing now. It’s hard to pinpoint an experience, but I would say that during the conferences in my first year in Chapman’s pharmacy school, I wished I wasn’t as shy about networking with professionals outside of my school and connecting with my professors early on. Truthfully, it wasn’t until my last 1.5 years in pharmacy school did I start branching out a lot more. Time really does fly fast!
What were the most challenging social issues in our country/world that you faced as a young college student? What was your perspective or how did you get involved? Have your opinions on these issues changed or stayed the same? Give an example…
As a young, Asian-American woman, the biggest social issue I see most challenging is discrimination. I got involved in the Asian Pacific Student Association and University Program Board to learn more about the social justice efforts Chapman has made and learn about the different social and financial backgrounds my peers have grown through. Over time, even through grad school, I have learned to stand up for myself strongly for my upbringing and identity.
Also as a pharmacy student, another issue I faced lies in our country’s health disparities. With the organizations at Chapman’s School of Pharmacy, I got involved in providing several health services to underserved communities in Southern California. It helped open my perspectives as to what barriers exist to attaining the best health care needed. Even out of school now, I have continued to volunteer and coordinate these events to promote cost-effective options for patients who lack funds and capability to attain them. My opinions all still remain the same, now becoming more aware of the political and ethical issues brought up especially in 2020.
What do you wish you knew at the time of your graduation (about life, careers, family, best place for tacos, etc.) that you know now? What advice can you give to the students and/or recent graduates of today?
Honestly, I wish I got to experience more of the food joints in Orange Circle. I think during my last year in grad school, at least 3-4 new restaurants opened and the Orange Circle got even more popular!
For advice, I’ll admit that I am a very firm believer that what you will do after reaching that pinnacle point of your life (like finally getting to grad school or even just finishing school) is when things begin to really matter if not already. School is one thing; you’re placed on projects and timelines, but post-graduation is another level and it’s really what you make of it. The things I have gotten more engaged in (non-profit local organizations, supervising students and scouts, media projects) during my time out of school have made my life quite worthwhile!