Dana Manzella: Pharmacobiology

Dana ManzellaDana Manzella


B.S. expected June 2013

Home College: College of Staten Island

Mentor: Prof. William L’Amoreaux, Biology, College of Staten Island

“You want to be a what? A Pharmacist!?  How are you going to do that? CUNY doesn’t even offer a pre-pharmacy program!”

“In August of 2009, I applied for a job as a pharmacy technician at CVS/Pharmacy. Unlike many other pharmacy technicians out there, I did not choose this job because I wanted to become a pharmacist. I chose it because I had a strong love for the sciences and wanted to be exposed to the field of medicine. Before pharmacy, I had considered becoming a pediatrician; however, that changed faster than you could ‘slap a label on it.’ In fact, within a month of working as a technician, I had my heart set on becoming a Doctor of Pharmacy. It wasn’t long before I was able to properly pronounce the name of medications, recite their usage without peeking at the label and even calculate dosages accurately. This was all coming so easy to me, so naturally and so quickly. Unfortunately, the college that I attend does not offer a pre-pharmacy program. Already a sophomore, I put myself to work and began researching local pharmacy programs. I spent my weekends piecing together a list of common prerequisites and set out a projected plan of action for the next few semesters.

“With the help of  CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies, I was able to revolve my undergraduate degree around what I actually wanted to study and ultimately reach my goal of being accepted into pharmacy school. ‘Pharmacobiology’ is a bachelor’s of science concentration that I have designed, focusing my undergraduate studies on things like pathogens and disease, the human body and treatment. In the world of a traditional biology major, many of the classes that focus on such related topics are not even accepted as electives, let alone as part of the major. But shouldn’t the point of college to choose a degree path that will interest you and will educate you for life after graduation?

“I consider myself rather fortunate to have found CUNY BA. Having the opportunity to actually focus on my interests through the course of my undergraduate degree has truly been an amazing experience. Not only did I actually enjoy my time as undergrad but this opportunity has assured me that the path of science and medicine is right for me.

“Although at times juggling school and work was stressful, my passion for the health field only grew. The concentration that I designed is chock-full of rather challenging coursework.  General Microbiology, Biology of Disease, Pharmacotherapeutics, Biochemistry I, Organic Chemistry I & II, Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II and Psychopathology are all classes that encompass my interests and comprise my major, weighing in at over thirty credits. This comprehensive list of classes does exactly what every major should: it provides me with a solid foundation for my continued studies in graduate school and prepares me for the world ahead of me in medicine. How many undergraduates have you heard say that they enjoyed studying every class in their major?!

“With graduation just around the corner, I am looking forward to continuing my education in pharmacy school; I have been accepted to the University of Saint Joseph’s School of Pharmacy three-year accelerated program in Hartford, Connecticut. CUNY BA has given me the motivation to excel throughout my undergraduate course work and be accepted into a professional program. Pharmacy school is just on the horizon and I am eager to finally be recognized as Dana R. Manzella, Doctor of Pharmacy. With that being said, although being called ‘Doctor’ is pretty awesome, the title is nothing compared to the immeasurable feeling of accomplishment after a day of work. Over the past four years, I have been taught many things while working in the pharmacy: medications, interactions, pesky insurance billing, but there is one concept that I have learned on my own: it isn’t the number of prescriptions I fill throughout the day but it is the number of people I’ve helped that means the most to me. All it takes is just one ‘thank you’ from a single grateful patient for me to realize that all of this has been worthwhile. To quote Justice Sonia Sotomayer, ‘If you just try and be stubborn about trying, you can do what you set your mind to.’”