What drives your passion for pharmacy? Some would say curiosity, discovery or impact. For Vigen and Hayk Tumoyan, it was their family.
The Tumoyan family immigrated to the U.S. from Armenia, and at a young age, the Tumoyan brothers helped to care for their grandmother when she was diagnosed with cancer. Then when their father became ill, they took charge of his care, too. Now, both brothers are taking on a new challenge– PharmD school at the University of California, Irvine.
“My father is on 14 medications, and he needs them to survive,” said Vigen Tumoyan, an incoming student for UCI’s School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences’ PharmD program. “He had difficulty managing his medication. I wanted to do something to make things easier on him so that he would avoid more problems or complications with mix-ups.”
That’s when Vigen’s passion for pharmacy was born. Caring for his father and prioritizing his health furthered his interest in becoming a pharmacist. He developed a relationship with their local pharmacist and, in turn, learned about pharmacy as a career path.
Vigen graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. He also received a Pre-Medical and General Science Studies certificate while taking night and weekend classes at UCLA.
Vigen emphasizes the importance of pharmacists in healthcare. “They are the last line of defense for the patient and a resource available to you at any time in your community.”
As he prepares to start the PharmD program in the fall, Vigen is delighted with the idea of finally becoming an anteater. Thanks to the years he spent working in and around campus as a rideshare driver, he is familiar with campus; it gave him the flexibility to work around his dad’s care.
“The campus is beautiful, and I always envisioned myself being a student,” Vigen said. “I’m looking forward to starting the program this fall and want to be the best pharmacy student I can possibly be.”
Similar to his brother, Hayk Tumoyan, an incoming student for UCI’s School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences’ PharmD program, developed an admiration for pharmacists while caring for his grandmother and father.
Hayk is looking forward to the interprofessional education within the Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences and is excited about the potential for partnership.
“I want to establish collaboration with the other schools within the college,” Hayk said, “and maybe host events like an annual health fair so we can spread the word about the free services we can offer to our students and the surrounding community.”
Hayk received a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Psychology. He went on to receive a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. He currently works with a research group at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Los Angeles, and that’s where his colleagues mentioned that UCI was establishing a new PharmD program.
“I want to apply my research background to patient care, so patients can better understand the medications they are taking and how it can help them,” he said. “We lost our grandmother a couple of years ago, and our parents are my heroes. They are my driving force, and I honor them with my academics and career.”
When asked about his favorite childhood memory, Hayk recalled his first winter season in Boston, where the Tumoyans once lived before coming to Southern California.
“My father surprised my brother and me with a sled after a blizzard, so we went to a hilly golf course,” Hayk said. “It was a magical moment of us working together to navigate obstacles and go down the hillside. It is representative of our journey in America: it might seem scary, but if we worked together and relied on each other, we were going to get through it.”
The UCI School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences will host its Inaugural White Coat Ceremony on Friday, Sept. 24 at 2 pm P.T.