Siyaa at USC Pursues a Career in Pharmacy

University of South Carolina
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By Sakina Taher
Last updated on November 30, 2023

At the University of South Carolina, Siyaa from India was able to pursue her passion for pharmacy - and has plans to increase female representation in this all-important STEM field.

SiyaaIndiaUniversity of South Carolina

Siyaa, an international student at University of South Carolina who pursues a career in pharmacy

Siyaa from India, a senior at the University of South Carolina (USC), is pursuing a degree in pharmaceutical sciences. Her aim is to one day become a professor in pharmacy and inspire female students around the world to work toward their academic and career goals with courage and enthusiasm.

Read on to learn more about what inspires Siyaa, her pharmacy courses at USC, and how Shorelight advisors offered expert guidance on her path toward a successful career.

Taking Pharmacy Courses at the University of South Carolina

Ranked #64 in Top Public Schools by U.S. News & World Report, the University of South Carolina offers a tight-knit student community, in-person faculty support, and state-of-the-art campus facilities — qualities that really appealed to Siyaa.  

“I had a list of universities, and USC stood out to me the most,” she said. “There are only 60 to 70 [pharmaceutical sciences] students each year.” Additionally, each student in the program is assigned a mentor to offer guidance and support as they progress through their pharmacy school program.

I had guidance from every place possible.” — Siyaa, India, pharmaceutical sciences major, University of South Carolina  

The University of South Carolina’s supportive environment made it easy for Siyaa to adjust to the learning material and campus culture, too. 

“Pharmacy is just a very tight-knit community, so every time I faced any trouble with not understanding the material, I could always reach out to anyone and they would be more than happy to help,” she said. “Everyone is looking after each other and giving a helping hand.”

Siyaa came to USC through the International Accelerator Program. Support and encouragement from her International Accelerator Program advisors played a vital role in creating a positive experience in the US. 

My whole [International Accelerator Program] experience was extremely positive and I recommend it to anyone because I made friends for life. IAP was really comfortable and always guided me in the right direction. The information they gave out, and the resources in classes was really helpful and ultimately really helped me in my long-term goals.” — Siyaa, India, pharmaceutical sciences major, University of South Carolina

Motivating Experiences on the USC Campus 

The University of South Carolina’s vibrant campus life, with diverse student organizations and activities, played a big part in Siyaa’s study abroad experience. Getting involved in USC’s International Student Association, networking with students from different cultures, and enjoying group activities like dancing encouraged her to keep going, especially when her courses in pharmacy became challenging. 

USC’s campus activities also taught Siyaa how to build her professional skills. While working with people from different departments, she was able to learn the importance of discipline, integrity, and responsibility toward her profession. 

“I feel like I definitely became more professional,” she said. “You [gain] a lot of experience on how to speak with professors, how to show myself in public, and how to be better in professional settings as well.” 

Siyaa also was able to network with guest speakers who shared their experiences at pharmacy school and how they began their journeys toward becoming pharmacists or working in pharmacies. She learned how they succeeded academically, and asked questions on how to prepare for internships and full-time roles, gaining tips on how to navigate the workplace environment with confidence. 

Outside of her pharmacy courses, her time as a USC orientation leader also inspired Siyaa to help fellow students and provide the same support she received when she first arrived. 

“My favorite memory was working as an orientation leader. I felt so happy guiding new international students,” she said. “I told them, ‘I know exactly how you feel, and I have answers to all your questions. I know what you want to hear, what you need to hear, and what you need to know to succeed over here.’”

Internship Opportunities with Support from USC International Accelerator Program

Participating in internships is an important part of the pharmacy program at USC. To graduate, students are required to complete 12 internships throughout their degree. 

“After my first year, I have to do one month of [an unpaid] internship in a community setting,” she said. “After my second year, [which] I am doing right now, I have to work in a hospital setting, so I can see what that is like.” 

Siyaa’s internships gave her a better idea of how she would like to move forward in her career. Drafting her resume and cover letter — and preparing for interviews — became much easier for her and, with the support of the International Accelerator Program team at USC, she was able to apply for other internship opportunities with ease. 

“USC will find me a platform to do my internship,” she said. “I will just research where I want to go, put [it] in order, like [a] top-10 [list], and they will reach out to them and tell them, we’re sending a student from our university to work under you.”

What’s Next for Siyaa

Siyaa has had a longtime interest in taking pharmacy courses.

“Growing up, I was always curious about how pharmacies work, and I always thought they were like secret saviors,” she said. “My dad was a pharmacist as well, he works at Pfizer Dubai, and has always been a role model to me. So, he always encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to. After I graduate with my doctorate, [I hope to] be a professor, and I’m working towards that.”

As a future professor, she is particularly interested in encouraging female students to pursue careers in pharmacy.

Siyaa’s Advice for International Students

Siyaa advises international students to have courage, reach out for opportunities, and meet new people during their journey. 

“I came to this country when I was just 18 years old. It is OK to be [scared] and I understand that,” she said. To make the most of one’s time abroad, “definitely meet more people, go out there. These are the memories you will look back [on] and you will be so thankful.”

Siyaa also shared that with the support of the International Accelerator Program team at USC, international students have the chance to explore their academic interests, build career development plans, and apply for internships and other employment opportunities with guidance along the way.  

“This whole campus is made for students,” Siyaa said. “[Student] needs are going to be the first priority [at USC] and that’s very important!”

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