Illustrated portrait of Hugo Aguilar
Illustration: John Jay Cabuay

At Your Service

As an oncology pharmacist, Aguilar supports patients and their families through harrowing experiences. But he is just as dedicated to another role: mentoring budding pharmacists. While at UCSF, he helped sustain First Generation to College (FG2C), a UCSF organization that has connected 160 students with resources and professional mentors in their chosen fields since 2018. Once a student participant in FG2C, Aguilar now offers informed advice to aspiring first-generation pharmacists. “I see the value of passing on my knowledge and my experience to others,” he says. “If it’ll lighten their load and help their path become a little clearer, I’m all for that.”

A Dream Deferred

Aguilar’s own career goal was clear from the time he got a summer job in high school as a pharmacy clerk. But as the first person in his family to seek higher education, the path to his goal was less clear. He was accepted into a degree program right out of high school but joined the Marines instead. “At the time, I had the fear that I wouldn’t make it – I wouldn’t complete it,” he says. After a four-year tour, he completed college in San Diego before heading to UCSF to achieve his long-held vision. He credits his success to support and guidance from mentors along the way.

Without a Map

“The whole path was a scary unknown, always having imposter syndrome hanging over my head – not knowing, not hearing firsthand from close relations how things would go. I was always bracing myself for the unknown, every step of the way. I learned early on: Seek mentorship.”

– Kira Goldenberg for UCSF Magazine

Read the Winter 2024 Issue