Dharam Amin

Dharam Amin Takes Advantage of KGI’s Community College to PharmD Accelerated Program While Challenging Assumptions About the Pharmaceutical Industry

Like many people, Dharam Amin, PharmD ’25, grew up with the stigma that pharmaceutical companies only care about money and not about helping people. Rather than accepting this stigma as truth, he decided to investigate it for himself.

“I became curious—why would those companies act like that?” Amin said. “Also, some medications have a lot of side effects, so why would they prescribe something with so many side effects if it’s only helping one common issue? These questions got the ball rolling.”

Additionally, many of his family members take medication, so Amin wanted to make sure that these medications benefited his family. He was further led toward the medical route when he started experiencing health issues and wanted to explore solutions.

Amin, who grew up in the state of Gujarat in India and came to the United States as a high school sophomore, has always been interested in science. Upon graduation, he still wasn’t sure exactly what career he wanted to pursue, so he attended Las Positas, a community college in Northern California.

He took some computer science classes but realized that this wasn’t his true passion. His desire to help others and answer some of his burning questions regarding the medical industry led to his search for pharmacy schools.

Amin learned about Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)’s Community College to PharmD Accelerated Program in his search. This program enables students to transfer directly from community college to KGI’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program and thus bypass many of the expenses that pharmacy students typically accrue.

“I was surprised that I was able to do that,” Amin said.

So far at KGI, Amin has enjoyed learning about medications and how they interact with a person’s physiology. Some of his questions have already been clarified, and he has learned about the extensive evaluation process that drugs must undergo before they reach the market.

“In every case, the benefits must outweigh the risks,” Amin said.

He’s also learned that individual pharmacists have a voice. As a California Pharmacist Association (CPHA) member, he gets an inside look at how the CPHA is working to change certain laws impacting pharmaceutical companies.

For example, companies have a quota that requires them to sell a certain amount of medication each day. The CPHA recently helped pass a law that limits the quota.

“Pharmacists were obliged to meet that quota, which limited their contact time with patients,” Amin said. “As students, we had a voice in that, and now pharmacists have more time to talk to the patient and guide them through the whole process.”

“I also want to help people in underserved communities that don’t have access to expensive medications.”

Amin is also involved with the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, which organizes community health fairs where people can receive free screenings for diabetes and other conditions, and the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

Making the transition from a community college to a PharmD program was not as challenging for Amin as one might expect, partially because he had already overcome a much bigger challenge—moving to a new country and adjusting to language barriers and culture shock. Additionally, he has felt very supported since coming to KGI.

“Because of the small classes, you’re close with everyone, so you have that emotional support from your classmates as your backbone,” Amin said. “Also, KGI offers ways to help us de-stress before final exams, like providing breakfast. And the faculty is there for us anytime we need them.”

In Amin’s first semester, one professor who has stood out is Dr. Martin Zdanowicz, Dean of KGI’s School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Henry E. Riggs School of Applied Life Sciences.

“He’s been so passionate and humorous,” Amin said. “We’re always engaged, and he makes complex concepts so easy to follow.”

Other favorites are Associate Professor of Biopharmaceutical Sciences Dr. Derick Han, Associate Professor of Administrative Sciences Dr. Nazia Rashid, and Assistant Professor of Clinical Sciences Dr. Stephanie Kourtakis.

“Everyone in the class loves Dr. Han’s lectures, and they all look forward to the days that he’s teaching,” Amin said. “And Dr. Kourtakis went above and beyond. She taught two classes this semester, and she put in 100%. Before the exam, she took the time to do a mock OSCE with the class to learn first-hand. Dr. Rashid brings in pick-me-up gifts and gives us good motivational speeches. She’s always there to guide us through anything inside and outside of the class.”

Similarly, Kourtakis appreciates Amin’s dedication and everything he brings to the table.

“It has been a pleasure to serve as Dharam’s professor in his Introduction to Pharmacy Practice and Recitation 1 courses,” Kourtakis said. “He is a bright student and asked very thought-provoking questions in class. I look forward to working with Dharam in classes, rotations, and/or extracurricular activities in the future.”

When it comes to his long-term goals, Amin is considering either a career in ambulatory care or industry.

“Among the schools I was applying to, KGI stood out because of their industry ties,” Amin said. “But at the same time, I never got the feeling that they push you to work in industry or any other area. You’re open to explore all options.”

Amin had never heard of KGI before discovering the transfer program, but now he feels that he was meant to come here.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute so far, and I’m really happy to be here,” Amin said. “For anyone looking for a pharmacy school, I would highly recommend KGI.”