Army combat veteran on her journey to becoming a pharmacist

Monica Sines never imagined a career in pharmacy. As a driver in Tikrit and Mosul in Iraq, transporting Iranian, Iraqi and Pakistani workers safely to their destinations, 19-year-old Sines witnessed harrowing scenes while serving in the military.

“I saw things that people at that age should not see,” said Sines, who is now 35 and a third year at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences pursuing her Doctor of Pharmacy.

Sines joined the military in November 2002 at age 18, just before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. After six years of service, Sines left the military in 2008 and received her bachelor’s degree in biology at Hawaii Pacific University in 2016. Her passion for problem solving and collaborating with nurses and physicians while working at the Tripler Army Medical Center, sparked her interest in the health care field.

However, it wasn’t until 2012 after Sine’s father passed away, that she found her calling as a pharmacist. Due to negligence and poor communication, Sine’s father who was on Medicare at the time, died due to complications in treatment. From this experience, Sines found her motivation.

“My main goal is to provide the best care for anyone, no matter their social class, by communicating effectively with physicians,” said Sines. “These life experiences, along with my drive, my eagerness to learn more about the field and wanting to provide for my family, has led me to choose a career in pharmacy.”

Monica Sines during her acceptance speech at the 2019 Crimson Gala.

For Sines, getting through pharmacy school has not been an easy path. As a mother of two young children, she has had to work tirelessly to keep up with her studies. Her experience in the military has kept her and her family disciplined and regimented. Each night, Sines lays out clothes and prepares lunch for her children for the next day. After everyone has gone to sleep, she begins preparing for class the following day. Paying tuition has also been a challenge, but meticulous planning has helped to minimize some of the costs. Earlier this year, Sines received some much-needed help when she accepted the first ever William and Felicia Gaskins Scholarship.

With the scholarship, Sines plans to pay it forward. Her goal is to work in urban areas with low-income populations to increase their understanding of medications and empower them to improve their health.

“I’m almost through the first semester of my third year of pharmacy school, and it’s been both challenging and rewarding,” said Sines during her acceptance speech for the scholarship, “It’s helping my goals come to fruition.”