Just like you I started my academic career at the community college in 1993. I attended Cerritos College while working nearly 40 hours a week as a chart room clerk at Kaiser Permanente. It might surprise you to know that I failed my first general chemistry course, but eventually I repeated the course and successfully passed. It was after that experience I realized I actually enjoyed chemistry…who knew? It took longer than I expected but I finally graduated with my associates degree in general studies in 1997.
I transferred to Cal Poly Pomona and received my Bachelors degree in Chemistry in 2001. Cal Poly's “Learn by Doing” philosophy enabled me to learn a great deal more about chemistry and myself. I was fortunate to be part of the Science Educational Enhancement Services (SEES) program, which facilitated me joining an organic chemistry research group lead by Professor Douglas Klumpp studying superacid catalyzed reactions. My tenure as a 'Bronco' was probably the best time in my academic career. I always wanted to contribute to the advancement of human health and thanks to the faculty and staff at 'CP' I set my sights on synthesizing novel biologically active compounds for medicinal purposes. My grades, research experience, scientific publications and extracurricular activities provided the foundation for me to pursue my graduate studies.
I was accepted into the Ph.D. program in chemistry at the University of Southern California and began work with Professor Charles McKenna, a leader in the field of phosphorus chemistry. In Professor McKenna's group I worked on the synthesis, purification and characterization of various phosphonate derivatives that had biological activity for the treatment of osteoporosis and viruses such as HIV. Graduate school was the hardest thing I ever did in my academic career but it was worth it. I graduated in 2006 and obtained an industrial post-doctoral fellowship at Gilead Sciences, a pharmaceutical company known for it's leadership role in the development and commercialization of HIV treatments.
My post-doc eventually turned into a full-time position and I stayed with the company until 2012. I left Gilead to become a Research Sr. Scientist at Allergan, an industry leader in developing and commercializing drug products to treat various diseases of the eye. You may be more familiar with Allergan due to our work in developing medicinal and medical aesthetic uses for onabotulinumtoxinA (aka Botox).
I left pharma in late 2015 to become an entrepreneur. In addition to becoming a pharmaceutical development consultant, my husband and I purchased a senior care franchise. Home Instead is a global senior care company with 1200 franchisees dedicated to "changing the face of aging". Our office hires, instructs, and places CAREGivers with our senior and special needs clients in the Pasadena area. Under our leadership the business has grown to become the 3rd largest Home Instead franchise in California.
In addition to my roles as a pharmaceutical scientist and entrepreneur I also enjoy teaching undergraduate chemistry courses. Over the past 15 years I have taught chemistry and pharmaceutical development courses at USC, Cal Poly Pomona, Pasadena City College, and Rio Hondo.
I share this biography with you not to 'toot my own horn', but to provide you with a glimpse of the road ahead. It will be tough. There will be many times you ask yourself, 'what the %^&*^% am I doing?' You may even fail from time to time. That's OK. Don't get discouraged. Learn from your mistakes and keep going. You'll be amazed with the outcome.
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” - Maya Angelou
Jackson at 3.5 months
Jackson at 8