Pharmacy Grad, Immigrant Lives Up to His Family's Dreams of a Better Life

05/27/03    Portland, Ore.

Among the first graduates to earn a doctor of pharmacy from the College of Pharmacy awarded jointly by Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon State University is Emanuel Pop. He will be will be among more than 850 graduates at OHSU's 2003 Commencement scheduled for Wednesday, June 4, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Pop emigrated from Romania to Portland in 1991 at age 12. "My parents wanted a better economic opportunity as well as all-around freedom," Pop said. "They came here to give me a better opportunity. My going to school is almost the fulfillment of that."

The family lives in Tigard, where his mother is a pharmacy technician, and his father, trained as an engineer in Romania, works in maintenance. "I feel he's sacrificed a lot," Pop said. "Their support allowed me not just to do pharmacy work, but to get involved with other things in pharmacy school."

That includes a stint treating, helping and learning about Native Americans on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon; learning from Hispanic co-workers in an Orlando, Fla., hospital; travel to professional conventions; and a rotation he created with Novartis Pharmaceuticals in New Jersey, where he glimpsed the business side of the industry. "I saw the intricacies of having to produce a drug and go through the approval system that is required to prove its efficacy and safety," he said. Next year he will be a resident at St. Thomas Health System in Nashville, Tenn.

"I've really taken advantage of trying to see what's out there in terms of what pharmacy has to offer," Pop said. "Most of the time the pharmacist is a white guy in a white coat sitting at a counter. But the opportunities are endless."

The rotation that perhaps had the greatest impact on him was close to home, at Salem Hospital Pharmacy. "I learned the inpatient side and the outpatient side," he said. "It was a turning point in setting my mind to do a residency after graduation because I saw how pharmacists work in acute care. I really liked it, and I felt at this point in my professional life I want to have a broad base of understanding of how therapeutic pharmacy works."

Like his fellow graduates, Pop attended two years of classes at Oregon State University, followed by two years at OHSU, including the practice rotations. He is "a great ambassador for the College of Pharmacy, everywhere we send him," according to Robert Rucker, assistant director of experiential programs at OSU College of Pharmacy, OHSU campus.

"This could never have happened without my parents," Pop said. "I'm an only child, and I see my participation in pharmacy school as a responsibility, living up to their dream."