As a child of immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador, Brandon Saint-Milfort sees many structural issues in the American healthcare system that disproportionately affect patients of color. His joint studies at UCI in pharmaceutical sciences and political science have furthered his passion for finding accessible solutions that address the medical needs of lower-income people. He believes that these fields of study should be considered together in order to properly serve all those who need healthcare. During his time at UCI, Saint-Milfort has had multiple leadership positions in the student-run PharmSci Alternative Careers Association and has been a peer academic advisor in the School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. After graduating in June, Saint-Milfort plans to take a gap year to gain more community-oriented volunteer experience and prepare himself for medical school. He hopes, in time, to practice medicine in a setting that serves disadvantaged populations.
Can you describe a time you felt most proud to be an Anteater?
I was most proud to be an Anteater during the 2022 Student Parent Orientation Program dates. As a peer academic advisor, I attended SPOP with the PharmSci Student Affairs Office. I felt like I was making a significant contribution to my department and the campus community speaking with incoming freshmen, helping them register for their first classes, answering questions they had during enrollment, etc. SPOP is a transition for students from high school to UCI, and helping guide them through that made me feel as though I was making a difference.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I will be taking a gap year and preparing to apply to medical schools in the 2024 application cycle. I plan on spending the gap year working, doing some community volunteering and preparing for applications.
“As a peer advisor, Brandon has been able to build trusting relationships, as his understanding and empathetic qualities allow students to feel comfortable with a rigorous and competitive curriculum. Brandon helps each student feel motivated to accomplish their academic goals. Throughout my time working with Brandon, he has always demonstrated a calm demeanor, kindness and compassion. These interpersonal and communication skills will serve him well as a future healthcare provider.”– Erin Harper, pharmaceutical sciences academic counselor, Student Affairs
Who has been your biggest influence at UCI?
My biggest influence at UCI has been Erin Harper, an academic counselor in the PharmSci Student Affairs Office. My second and third year, I was struggling with whether I belonged in pharmaceutical sciences and was having doubts about whether I was cut out for pre-health. I had a meeting with Erin, and she really helped calm my nerves, and in the following weeks, I grew reassured. My meeting with her pushed me to apply for the peer academic advisor position a few months later. I have loved working as a PAA these past two quarters and am proud of the work I do in the office.
What advice would you give to your first-year self?
I would tell my freshman self to get involved with as many organizations and extracurriculars as you can. Freshman year is a great time to explore new and different opportunities. Who knows? They may grow into friendships, leadership positions, hobbies, etc.