Kyhm Penfil establishes the first PharmD scholarship endowment for first generation students at UCI

Scholarship to honor her grandfather, pharmacist Harry Penfil

Kyhm Penfil
Harry Penfil and his grandaughter, Kyhm Penfil. Image Courtesy: Penfil Family Collection.

To honor the legacy of her grandfather, Harry Penfil, Kyhm Penfil establishes the first PharmD scholarship endowment at UCI, which will create opportunities for first generation students to achieve their dreams and work toward making a positive impact in the world. 

“The Harry Penfil First Generation Scholarship Endowment is very special for our new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. With donors like this coming forward, even before our first PharmD students arrive this fall, we are in a great position to provide students from diverse backgrounds a pathway to become pharmacists serving a wide range of California communities,” said Jan D. Hirsch, Ph.D., founding dean of UCI’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Scholarships provide first-generation students an educational opportunity and a foundation to help them make a difference in the community as pharmacists.

“A scholarship can really open the door for a first-generation student who might otherwise decide that pharmacy school was out of reach,” said Sarah McBane, PharmD founding associate dean for pharmacy education.

“There are challenges unique to first generation students– this scholarship will help support these students in their academic and professional endeavors,” said Megan Nguyen, PharmD, founding associate dean of pharmacy student affairs.

Kyhm Penfil describes how her grandfather’s career as a pharmacist created a strong foundation and opened the door to many opportunities for her family.

Harry Penfil was an immigrant and the first member of the family to attend college in the United States — in the 1920s at the University of Michigan. He became a pharmacist and, after the Depression, ran his own pharmacy. After he passed away, Kyhm’s parents sold the building to send her and her sister to college.

Penfil was thinking about her grandfather while discussing with Dean Hirsch the Founding Partners gift for students who are underrepresented in Pharmacy Sciences. Penfil’s grandfather passed away when she was young, but she remembered how he taught her the multiplication tables— he was quick and accurate at arithmetic because he made change at the counter before automated cash registers.

“It is appropriate that this is the first scholarship in the Doctor of Pharmacy program of UCI’s new and growing School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences because it makes good on my father’s comment to me in the early 1970s that UCI would grow to be a world class public research university ‘just like Ann Arbor,’ where my grandfather and parents attended college,” said Penfil.

This scholarship will help support a diverse population that is integral to the fabric of this campus and necessary in the field of pharmacy.

“First generation students are the foundation of UCI’s academic community. They bring a unique perspective to every class and as future pharmacists, their unique perspective will help advance health care equity in our community,” said Nguyen.

“UCI has a strong commitment to increasing diversity in the pharmaceutical sciences and the profession of pharmacy, as well as a history of attracting and educating underrepresented and first-generation students,” Hirsch said. “Not only is advancing diversity a distinctive opportunity for the new school, but I believe it’s an important responsibility – and one we take on wholeheartedly.”

The school’s new Doctor of Pharmacy Program aims to produce practice-ready pharmacists who provide direct patient care services, collaborate interprofessionally, solve complex problems, and initiate change in the healthcare system.

“The mission of the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences at UCI is to be a driving force for advancing health and wellness of individuals and society, through innovative and integrative learner-centered education; leading-edge pharmaceutical research and discoveries; and leadership in inter-professional patient-centered healthcare,” said Hirsch.

Donors like Kyhm Penfil are making a significant difference in the lives of students who will in turn create a positive impact for their own families, communities, and beyond.

“I know my grandfather would applaud the UCI PharmD students who are making their own journey,” said Penfil.

If you are interested in learning more about how to support this scholarship, please contact Duane Rohrbacher at

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates From the UCI School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

More To Explore


Hispanic Heritage Month With Emily Castro

Emily Castro, a fourth-year, first-generation student in the PhD in pharmacological sciences program, shares advice to others forging new paths.