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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Grad Q&A Pharmacy Technology graduate Anna Brickey

February 7, 2023

Anna Brickey was determined to break a family history of having children at a young age and having to abandon hope of college in the struggle to raise kids. She wanted to be the first in her family to complete college and give her many cousins “a different picture” to shape their future. All eyes were on her. Anna had a vision of a career as a pharmacist and decided SJVC’s Pharmacy Technology program was the best steppingstone to get there.


Why did you choose a career in Pharmacy Technology?

I’ve been on this journey since I was seventeen and fell in love with medicine when I was a student intern (high school Regional Occupational Program) in a medical center. I was one of the first students to intern in a pharmacy.


What made SJVC’s Pharmacy Technology program a fit?

I found two training programs in my area and SJVC’s seemed more legit. It was a (in as few as) 9-month program on campus and the class times and duration were very fitting to my schedule.

The advisor I spoke to was great and he didn’t give me that creepy car salesman vibe. He was more supportive than salesy. He focused on what I wanted long-term in a career and where I wanted to be in that effort.


How was your classroom experience?

Classmates were so supportive, and we teamed up to help each other. We were all going for the same goal, so we had each other’s backs. The classroom was a very healthy environment.


Did you have sufficient faculty support?

Miss Ariza (instructor) was the key to me getting through school. She made it clear that she wanted us to understand what she was teaching us, and she never made me feel stupid for any questions I would ask. She was always available for questions or concerns.


Any surprises about the program?

What was surprising was that I ended up doing better than I thought I would. And it was a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be.


What were your biggest challenges in class?

Grasping the math content. There’s a ton of medications you have to remember – a list of over 200 that you have to remember off the top of your head. I struggled a lot, but just kept working at it.


What kept you pushing forward?

My whole life weighed in on this. I was not going to be able to purchase a car, buy a house – I needed to complete this to go to the next step of my life. This was a chapter that needed to be finished. There was no possibility I would drop out.


Did you have support at home?

I lived with my boyfriend, Zachary, and his family. They are the ones I lean on and that keep me going. If I didn’t have them, I couldn’t go to school and focus on school. Zachary checks on me, gives me a strong nudge, but in a good way.

My grandmother, Barbara, is my biggest cheerleader. She got the scrubs I needed to start school, class supplies and gas money to get to school. We talk every day. She tells me, ‘God is protecting you. As long as you do your best, He’s going to do His best.’


What are your greatest struggles?

I’m 26 years-old and have been trying to get into this industry since I was seventeen. I try not to get discouraged at how long it’s taken me to get here. The only reason I’m able to finish this now is because of all the support I have. But it doesn’t matter how long it takes you so long as you finish.


Was there a favorite moment for you, as a student?

When I finished my externship (on-the-job experience) and realized I was actually done! And that I didn’t have anything more to worry about.

And then I won a scholarship I’d applied for. It was a $500 prize through the Central Valley Hispanic Foundation, and I was one of ten students selected. There was an awards dinner, and I was on stage to accept the award and say a few words. I finished externship, graduated, and got my scholarship award all in one week. It was a big week.


How did your family history inspire you to focus on a college education?

I am first generation college graduate in my family. That was my motivation, to break our family history of having children young and not going to college. My mom (Laina) had me at 16-years old. All my aunts and uncles had kids before they were twenty. They all did fine but had to struggle a lot more than they needed to. I have like twenty cousins who are watching me. I’m giving them a different picture.


What advice do you give your cousins who might follow in your footsteps?

I’m always trying to give them guidance. One cousin who just turned twenty told me she was not going back to college next semester. I said, ‘Yes, you are. I’ve been there and yes, it’s hard. You have to just go through it and finish.’ I also know what it’s like to have an adult lecture you. But as you get older you realize, ‘Oh yeah, they really did get it’.


Where did you begin your new career?

I work as a Pharmacy Technician at an animal hospital, basically a retail pharmacy for animals. I fill medications and prescriptions for all our animal patients – mostly dogs and cats. It’s a large animal hospital with four buildings that treat 200-300 animals each day.

We consult with pet owners and give them the information they need for pet medications and applications. We’re big on customer care and making sure everyone feels seen, heard, and happy when they leave.

My favorite part of the job is getting to see the little animals during the day. It’s like a serotonin boost and reminds you what you’re working so hard for.


What are your future career goals?

Being a pharmacist is still something I would like to pursue in the future. Right now, I plan on going to a human hospital because I want to make IV compounds and chemotherapy. I don’t have to be a pharmacist to do that. I might enjoy it and be happy enough to stay with that.

The next step is for Zach and me to be able to have our own place. Get a nice car, buy a house, and be financially stable.

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