From community college to PharmD residency via UCSF

Out of some 61,000 graduates in the University of California’s Class of 2024, close to a third started their higher education journey at a California community college, including Warif Kastoun, PharmD, who felt the allure of the white coat early on.

Growing up in Damascus, Syria, she had always looked up to pharmacists, but the civil war that started in 2011 interrupted Kastoun’s plans to run her own local pharmacy. After emigrating to the U.S. in 2015, she finished her last two years of high school in the United States––still holding tight to her dream of becoming a pharmacist.

Kastoun enrolled in Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgecrest, California, to begin working toward that goal. A counselor helped her plan to transfer to UC Santa Barbara as a chemistry major. Along the way, she earned associate’s degrees in math, biology, and liberal arts. The COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing at the time, but after a year of online classes, Kastoun was able to join the pharmacy program at UC San Francisco.

Now, with graduation behind her, Kastoun is beginning a yearlong postgraduate residency at Stanford University. She’ll be the only PharmD resident in an innovative ambulatory care program where pharmacists collaborate with physicians to manage chronic conditions for hospital patients.

“This is where I belong,” said Kastoun.


Transfer students triumph in the Class of 2024


School of Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

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.