Honor student takes pathway from Honoka‘a High to Eastern Oregon U to UH Hilo pharmacy program

Throughout her academic journey, Lauren Domingo has held on to her aspirations of working in the healthcare sector, and upon graduating from the UH Hilo pharmacy college she hopes to find her passion in the pharmacy field.

By Alyssa Mathews.

Lauren Domingo
Lauren Domingo

This story is the third in a series on Hawai‘i Island residents finding a path from their hometown high school into UH Hilo’s pharmacy college.

After a decade-long academic journey from Honoka‘a High School to Eastern Oregon University and then back home to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, honor student Lauren Domingo is now earning her doctor of pharmacy degree at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy.

Her pathway to a meaningful profession in health care started years ago at her alma mater Honoka‘a High, where she was able to get a head start on her college journey by taking dual-credit classes earning both high school and college credit. The Running Start program is managed through UH Hilo’s North Hawai‘i Education and Research Center, an outreach center located in Honoka‘a. Domingo started by enrolling in English 100, a college level course, when she was a junior.

The Running Start program allowed Domingo to get a feel for the workload of college classes.

“It allowed me to earn college credits during high school as well as prepare me for the expectations that are asked for in college courses,” says Domingo.

Undeterred

Born and raised on Hawai‘i Island, Domingo grew up in Pa‘auilo and graduated from Honoka‘a High School in 2009, interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, with a particular interest in pharmacy. Following graduation, she attended Eastern Oregon University, where she earned her bachelor of science in business administration in 2013.

“Initially, I majored in chemistry/pre-pharmacy, but plans changed, and I became a mom in 2012,” she explains. “When I found out I was pregnant I changed my major to business administration because the science course load was a little too stressful for me to keep up with to graduate in the four years.”

“My career goal right now is just to end up working in an area of pharmacy that I will love and that will allow me to expand my knowledge.”

Despite the changes in her initial plans of majoring in pre-pharmacy, Domingo was able to pursue her goals of entering the pharmacy track upon moving back to Hawai‘i.

“I lived in Oregon for an additional year before moving back home to Pa‘auilo,” she says. “I took a year-and-a-half off to spend time with my son, then decided to go back to school to complete what I initially started. I wanted to get into the pharmacy school here on the Big Island. At UH Hilo, I took the required courses needed to apply for the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy. After about two years I was able to apply.”

Domingo entered the pharmacy college last year and in her second year became eligible and joined the Rho Chi Academic Honor Society for pharmacy students.

Mentoring a fellow alumna

With serendipitous timing, Domingo is serving as a mentor to Nina Cardoza, a fellow student at the college who also hails from Pa‘auilo and is a Honoka‘a High School alumna.

“As a mentor I feel that my job is to prepare my mentee for what lies ahead, so basically I try my best to answer any questions she may have to prepare her for classes, certifications or rotations and offer her guidance and advice,” Domingo explains. “It was really nice to learn that we are quite similar and that I am not the only one coming from the Pa‘auilo-Honoka‘a area, that she was also a Honoka‘a High School graduate and that we both commute to school every day.”

“It is comforting and nice to know someone who is pretty much in the same shoes as I am.”

Cardoza’s pathway to the pharmacy college was a bit different from Domingo’s: after graduating from Honoka’a High School in 2015, she enrolled at Hawai‘i Community College to fulfill her general education requirements before transferring to UH Hilo to complete her pharmacy prerequisites. Although Domingo and Cardoza took different paths in their college journeys, both were able to realize their dreams of entering the UH Hilo pharmacy college.

“I think that this similarity helped us connect better,” says Domingo. “It is comforting and nice to know someone who is pretty much in the same shoes as I am. I did not know her before pharmacy school but I am glad that we did cross paths. I am sure we will have a lot more to learn from each other over our remaining years at [the college] and hopefully stay connected after graduation.”

The future

Throughout her journey, Domingo has held on to her aspirations of working in the healthcare sector, and upon graduating from the UH Hilo pharmacy college she hopes to find her passion in the pharmacy field. After this semester, she has one more year of didactics remaining, then she will start rotations during her last year of pharmacy school.

“I haven’t really set my eye on what I really want to do once I graduate,” she says. “We are required to do our rotations in different pharmacy settings—hospital, community, acute care, etcetera, so once I do that hopefully I will see what area in pharmacy I am most interested. My career goal right now is just to end up working in an area of pharmacy that I will love and that will allow me to expand my knowledge.”

 

Story by Alyssa Mathews, a freshman at UH Hilo. She graduated from Waiakea High School and is a UH Hilo Chancellor’s Scholar.

Also in this series:

Ambitious first-generation UH Hilo student on pathway from Honoka‘a High School to Doctor of Pharmacy, without ever leaving home

From Hilo High to UH Hilo: Pharmacy student researches pharmaceuticals through a Hawaiian cultural perspective