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Scholarship honors the life of Mark Baje, PharmD ’99
By Deborah Giattina / Thu Oct 20, 2022
Nearly one year ago, on November 6, 2021, a beloved UCSF School of Pharmacy alum and mentor, Mark Baje, PharmD ’99, passed away. To honor his legacy, friends, family, and colleagues have created the Mark Baje Memorial Scholarship, which will support PharmD students for years to come.
A recent gift from Mark’s widow, Marielle, has enabled the fund to be endowed in perpetuity. The scholarship recognizes UCSF PharmD students who embody Mark’s unwavering dedication to pharmacy, from patient care and leadership to community service and the future of the profession.
“He was quietly a strong leader. He had a vision and he made it happen,” said Marielle Baje, PharmD ’99, of her late husband. The couple met during their first year of pharmacy school, and she could tell right away that the charismatic former high school football player and student body president was a go-getter. “This is a great way to honor him.”
A humble leader
In his time at UCSF, Mark made a big impact. He served as president of the Academy of Student Pharmacists at UCSF, successfully increasing the organization’s membership as much as possible. He received multiple top honors from the School of Pharmacy, including the Bowl of Hygeia Award upon graduation, and in ensuing years received the Apples for Preceptors Recognition Award and the Long Teaching Award as a pharmacist mentor.
In every organization Mark led and every opportunity he took on, he pushed to do better than what was done before. “I feel so fortunate that I was able to sit alongside him and grow up with him as a pharmacist,” said close friend and classmate, Mike Lim, PharmD ’99, of the time they spent together in the PharmD program.
Mark’s career continued to blossom after he left UCSF. He completed his residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and then took full time employment as a clinical specialist in critical care at UC Irvine Medical Center, settling with his wife, Marielle, and his two daughters in Orange County.
At UC Irvine, Mark rose to the position of residency director, where he carried out the work he loved most, teaching and precepting. Early in the pandemic, he ensured that the university’s residency recruitment program continued virtually, despite a pause on in-person events. The virtual program is now being worked into a platform for use by other universities.
A loving husband and devoted father
Marielle carries countless memories of Mark from her years with him, including seeing Mark sitting in the front of class, a group trip to Lake Tahoe where he introduced her to snow for the first time, and the day he proposed to her on a walk to the Golden Gate Bridge. She was wearing uncomfortable slide-on mules that day and was none the wiser to his plans.
Marielle grew up a daughter of working-class immigrants and liked that she and Mark had the Catholic faith and California upbringings in common. Mark told her if she stuck with him, they would go places together, a promise he kept.
Mark’s ability to inspire others was not limited to his profession. He didn’t like to talk about work with his family, Marielle recalled, but he made sure to take his two daughters along to a UCSF PharmD commencement ceremony when he received the Long Teaching Award from then dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD.
“That really affected them, realizing their dad’s the ‘bomb’ in what he does in his career,” said Marielle. “It motivated them to better themselves and think, ‘I can do that, too.’”
A forever fund
The idea for the Mark Baje Memorial Scholarship came about in the days following Mark’s untimely death. Lim reached out to other classmates and began brainstorming on how they could collectively honor Mark’s legacy. It was “grounding and productive” to focus on a practical goal, like a student scholarship, he said.
With Mark’s passion for UCSF and pharmacy education in mind, the group decided to fundraise for a memorial scholarship in Mark’s name. Lim floated the idea with Marielle, who agreed it was exactly what Mark would have wanted, and the class worked with UCSF to set up a crowdfunding campaign.
The online fundraising page was quickly flooded by donations and comments from classmates, colleagues, friends, and family with fond memories of Mark. “Our Class of 1999 has lost one of our family. The world has lost a true gem,” wrote Kristin Patrick Jazdzewski, PharmD ’99. “Anyone who was fortunate enough to know you was inspired by your positive passion for life and the pharmacy profession.”
In a matter of weeks, the scholarship had collected enough funds for five years. And as Marielle settled Mark’s financial affairs for the family, she realized she could endow the scholarship in perpetuity.
Carrying the mantle
A major goal of the Mark Baje Memorial Scholarship is to invest in future generations of pharmacists, and Baje’s legacy is already making a difference.
The first recipient of the scholarship, pharmacy student Kelly Lam, Class of 2022 and current resident at UCSF, received the scholarship earlier this year. Lam exemplified Mark’s passion for pharmacy education when, as a second-year pharmacy student, she joined with faculty member Stephanie Hsia, PharmD, MEd, and others to design the first health equity curriculum for pharmacy students. She also tutored UCSF post-baccalaureate and first-year pharmacy students and went on to educate medical residents while undertaking her experiential education at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center.
The support of the scholarship has inspired Lam to follow in Mark’s footsteps.
“Although I only met Dr. Baje once, I could feel the huge impact he had made on all my classmates who were lucky to have learned under his preceptorship,” she said. “I hope to carry on his legacy and guide the next generation of pharmacy students.”
Students will be invited to apply for the next scholarship later this year. Donations are still welcome at the Mark Baje Memorial Scholarship crowdfunding site.
About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.