Ngoc Nguyen

Ngoc Nguyen, valedictorian of the first UT Tyler College of Pharmacy graduating class, stands in front of the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy on the campus.

Every decision Ngoc Nguyen has made over the past 8 years has led her here, from her home in Vietnam to walking the stage half a world away as the valedictorian of the first graduating class of the University of Texas at Tyler’s College of Pharmacy.

She began college in Dallas in 2011 before moving to UT Tyler in 2013.

Nguyen, 27, said she was drawn to the team-based learning and integrated curriculum the college offered.

In fall 2015 when the school opened its new College of Pharmacy, along with the 60,000-square-foot $26.5 million Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy, she knew that’s where her path was taking her.

“I love the science and communication,” she said of her career path. “I think the most challenging thing would be having to come out of my shell.”

She found herself part of a new team, and soon enough working as a peer tutor and volunteering in the community.

“We really felt special,” she said. “The faculty values our feedback and wants to use it to improve the teaching and learning experience.”

That sense of ownership helped her define where she will go after graduation.

Nguyen has been accepted into a competitive residency program with Dallas Methodist, where she will begin working toward specializing to become an oncology pharmacist. She said she will be going through another two years split between working and learning to reach that goal.

“The path that I chose was to become a true medication expert, advocating for patients and helping them understand,” she said.

She said the most important aspect of the job for her will be ensuring each and every one of her patients has the right medication for their needs and the knowledge they need to manage their health.

In her residency she will be practicing internal medicine, working with doctors and gaining experience with specialty medicine.

Once she’s reached those goals, she hopes to have a chance to also work as an adjunct professor at the school that helped her find her passion.

Nguyen said the journey has had its fair share of challenges, but it has been a truly rewarding experience.

Even though her graduation ceremony was half a world away from home, her family flew in to see her graduate and be recognized for all of her hard work and accomplishments.