Las Vegas, N.M. – Alma García is headed to doctor of pharmacy school to pursue her childhood dream.
“New Mexico is one of only a few states that offer pharmacy clinician licensure, making it possible to prescribe medications,” García said. “My goal is to obtain this licensure and work one-on-one with physicians in a hospital setting to develop treatment plans for patients.”
The 21-year-old García graduates from Highlands in May with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in chemistry. She begins her doctor of pharmacy studies at the University of New Mexico in August after being accepted to three pharmacy programs.
García, a Las Vegas, New Mexico native and graduate of West Las Vegas High School, said she became interested in pharmacology as a 10-year-old when her father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“I was intrigued with the different medicines he took and how they helped treat him,” García said. “My education at Highlands and working at Plaza Drugs as a prescription clerk solidified my dream of becoming a pharmacist.”
García said Highlands was the best choice for her bachelor’s degree because of the strong science faculty such as biology professor Jessica Snow, García’s adviser.
“This semester I’m taking a pharmacology independent study course with Dr. Snow which has been fantastic. I’m learning about drug classifications and how they work on a molecular level. I also had the opportunity to conduct research in Dr. Snow’s lab, where we studied an important protein in the circulatory system that specifically contributes to the normal function of arteries in the lungs,” García said.
Snow said that García stands out for her ability to understand complex processes that happen on a cellular level.
“Alma did an excellent job with her senior research project in my lab,” Snow said. “I’m very impressed with her drive to maximize her learning in courses that prepare her for success in pharmacy school.”
García said she also gained valuable experience as a research assistant in organic chemistry professor Brooks Maki’s laboratory.
“With Dr. Maki, I learned the proper techniques and protocols for working with different chemical reactions, applying my knowledge from class,” García said.
She said the biology and chemistry professors at Highlands push their students to continually grow as aspiring scientists.
“These professors provide a welcoming, supportive environment. They want you to succeed. They are also extremely knowledgeable experts in their fields, which is inspiring,” García said.
Outside of the classroom, García is active in student government at Highlands, serving as a student senator. She is also a peer adviser in the Office of Academic Support.
“The most rewarding part of being a student senator is being a voice for other students, sharing their concerns and ideas with the university’s administration. Being a peer adviser gives me the chance to help incoming students make their transition to college easier,” García said.
Looking ahead, García said she welcomes the challenge of her four-year pharmacy program.
“I’m very excited to learn about the different aspects of medications and their role in treating patients, and using that knowledge to improve their well-being,” García said.