If you’ve had your own “sliding door” moment, you know what it is. It’s that event that at the time seemed inconsequential and fleeting but in hindsight forever changed the direction of your life.
For Mersedeh Kolyaei, a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student at West Coast University’s Center for Graduate Studies in Los Angeles, that moment came in the form of what at the time seemed like a very innocent and very out-of-the-blue phone call from an old friend, Matthew Nadybal.
Nadybal and Kolyaei met at Moorpark College – they were study partners in a general chemistry class – but after Moorpark, they went their separate ways to complete their undergraduate studies, Nadybal to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Kolyaei to UCLA.
Kolyaei graduated with a degree in anthropology in 2019 and was proceeding down a path toward medical school. At the same time, Nadybal was finishing up the final year of his undergraduate degree and also thinking he would be going to medical school. It was about this time that he picked up the phone.
“He called and said, ‘Hey, do you want to get some coffee?’” Kolyaei said. And from that one phone call, the path of their lives was forever changed.
Life Takes a Turn
Prior to the call, Nadybal and Kolyaei were single and proceeding down a path to medical school. Not long after the call, they were in a committed relationship that would lead to marriage, and their academic and professional paths would be altered significantly as well.
Kolyaei was the first to begin thinking about pharmacy school as a next step, and at West Coast University she met Christina Collard, an admissions advisor at the WCU Center for Graduate Studies. Kolyaei recalls that she “immediately fell in love with the place.”
“I wanted a smaller school where I had a more intimate relationship with faculty, and I have that at West Coast University.”-Mersedeh Kolyaei, WCU Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student
After graduating from Cal Poly SLO, Nadybal was still thinking medical school, but he was running into roadblocks. When Kolyaei told him she was going to pursue a PharmD degree at WCU, he decided to do the same.
Well, it wasn’t exactly a snap a decision. Nadybal did his homework first, and around this time, he also received a scholarship offer from the Keck Graduate Institute. However, upon researching the West Coast University PharmD program, Nadybal connected with several faculty with backgrounds in oncology – an area of specific interest to Nadybal – and that, he said, made “a big difference” in his ultimate decision.
And so both Nadybal and Kolyaei began their journeys in the fall 2020 term, and they are now at the midway point of having successfully navigated the rigorous academics of their Doctor of Pharmacy program. They have also made the best of their social situation (given the remote learning brought on by COVID-19) by joining and becoming presidents of their local chapters of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (Kolyaei) and the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (Nadybal).
In addition to school, Nadybal is an intern pharmacist at the Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center, and Kolyaei works at the North Oaks Pharmacy in Thousand Oaks.
When they’re not studying or at work or leading their clubs, Kolyaei and Nadybal are, more often than not, still talking shop. “It consumes a lot of our mental space, for sure,” Nadybal said.
But it’s not all about work and studying. Downtime and taking your mind off school and work is important. Kolyaei likes to unplug by reading, and Nadybal likes to work out.
And they both love to spend time with their pets – two dogs, a Pomeranian named Tala and a Border Collie named Mony; and two cats, Posha and Bonu who are both Persians.
Taking the dogs for a walk, Kolyaei said, gives her a chance to “reset” her mind.
It’s a chance, too, to look forward to what’s to come after they’ve graduated from the West Coast University PharmD program, and the truly fascinating career paths that they are considering. Click here to learn more about those career paths.
WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.