Khanh M., 30 – FUNDED

Khanh M. likens being a female healthcare provider in the tech realm to “a lot like wandering in foreign territory that’s brought me much doubt in my position, actions, and goals.” Her dream is to build a pharmacogenomic software program that would aid clinicians in choosing medicines specifically from the patients’ genomic data in order to drastically minimize adverse events and increase drug efficacy.

And, she’s on the right path to this dream with the pursuit of her master’s degree in computer science to complement her Pharm.D. degree.

“Being a New Face of Tech has only solidified and strengthened my role here,” she says.

What does being the New Face of Tech mean to you?

I am so grateful to have been chosen. I’m thrilled to not only be able to represent healthcare providers in tech but also minorities and women, as well. I cannot thank you enough for having such an opportunity.

Women are underrepresented in STEAM. How can we change this?

Funding opportunities such as this one are a great way! Tuition fees are exponentially rising and deterring all prospective students from applying to universities. In addition, reaching out and networking with women’s advancement centers in different communities all over the nation would help spread the word. Most women are just unaware of the opportunities and aid available to them. If not for a colleague reaching out to me (huge shout out to Joy!), I would have never known about this opportunity or the 1,000 Dreams Fund!

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

I am a bit older than the other winners, so I must admit, I have faced quite a bit of hardship: racism, discrimination, sexual assault, severe mental health illness, a stint of horrible decision-making on my part that landed me in jail, and unemployment. The world is cruel and life is hard, but with the proper support system, we can survive it all.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals?

I am always creating goals both big and small. For me, continuing education plays an important role in staying motivated. It allows me to continue thinking critically and creatively. I participate in seminars related to health and medicine, and I also take online language courses. Currently, I am taking my second semester of Korean. Next, I think I will learn French.

I thank my colleagues for being inspirational to me. Their expert knowledge in our work is highly motivating, as I wish to be like them one day. I also have to thank my family for their continuous support. Love can be extremely motivating.

How will funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund and HARMAN help you reach your goals?

A major hurdle within the tech community is that there is no major role for pharmacists yet. This is, in part, due to the lack of tech education in pharmacy school curriculum. We possess a massive amount of clinical knowledge that could be very beneficial in the tech realm.

Overcoming the barriers of having a tech role for pharmacists is difficult — and I believe the only way for me to do it is by receiving formal education in computer science. After only just recently graduating from pharmacy school in 2018, I am still drowning in student debt.

So, this grant gives me the opportunity that very few pharmacists have — a master’s education in computer science and a rightful ticket into the tech sector. Currently, I have applied to five different universities in Seoul, South Korea as well as Georgia Tech for a master’s program to begin in Spring 2021.