Alumni Letter: Madi Kelly, UCSF School of Pharmacy

Hello fellow Mustangs!

My name is Madi Kelly and I am a recent graduate of Cal Poly. I graduated this past June with a degree in Biology and have since begun pharmacy school at the University of California, San Francisco. Unlike many of my classmates, my road to UCSF was very unique in that I was admitted from the waitlist just a mere two weeks prior to classes beginning. Before I was accepted into UCSF, I began pharmacy school at Touro University California. I attended Touro University for about a month before hearing about my acceptance into UCSF. With this opportunity of attending two pharmacy schools, I believe I have a unique insight into what exactly grad schools are looking for in their potential candidates. I would also love to be a resource for Cal Poly students!

I can hopefully relate to many of you in the sense that I truly had no clue what I wanted to do following graduation during my first two years at Cal Poly; I sometimes even questioned switching my major to Business at times. I ended up choosing the pharmacy path after I was presented with a job opportunity by my high school volleyball coach. He is a manager at a pharmacy and offered me a job while I was going into my junior year. I used to be under the impression pharmacists simply counted pills in a Walgreens or CVS however after working in a pharmacy, I learned this is not the case. Looking back, my best advice to all of you would be to keep your options open and explore every career path.

Additionally, I would advise anyone who is interested in graduate programs to join a club or get involved in research or a job. Grad schools want to see that you are a well-rounded person and if I could go back and do it all again, I would put less emphasis on solely my grades and focus more of my time and energy into involving myself with extracurricular activities. With this being said, grades are important, but they are not everything. More often than not, receiving a ‘B’ as opposed to a highly sought after ‘A’ in a certain class will not be the crucial deciding factor to one’s success. When you are in an interview or filling out supplemental applications, most of the time your GPA will never be brought up.

Overall, I love pharmacy school and living in San Francisco! The transition into grad school has been relatively smooth and I believe it is due to the experiences I had at Cal Poly. I was initially quite intimidated starting at UCSF upon learning I was one of the few students out of 127 not coming from a UC school. Unlike many UC schools, Cal Poly provides you with one-on-one attention with professors who truly care about your success. I was never taught by a TA and hardly ever had class sizes over 50 students. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend Cal Poly!

I would love to be a resource to anyone applying to pharmacy school! Applying and interviewing for graduate school is not an easy process. After speaking with my peers at UCSF, many mentioned that current students at UCSF advised them along the way and helped them prepare for interviews and essays. I would love to see Cal Poly’s name represented more at a school that is predominantly UC based. Please feel free to reach out to me for any questions at all! Go Mustangs!


Madi Kelly (