Three Pharmacy students find friendship far from home
Thursday September 20, 2001
First year pharmacy students have a long journey ahead of them when it comes to school, but three of them have found that they share an unusual bond.
Ian Mikami, Jodi Nakai and Kaci Okumoto became friends after meeting this school year when they started classes at the University of Arizona School of Pharmacy. All three come from Hawaii, though from three different islands. Nakai is from Oahu, Okumoto is from Hawaii, also called "The Big Island." and Mikami is from Molokai.
"We met at orientation," Mikami said. "(Nakai and Okumoto) said they were from Hawaii too, and I didn't know that. It's cool to know someone from the same place as you, especially when you're so far from home."
Though the three come from the same state, they said their respective islands each have distinct features.
"Every island has its own beauty," Mikami said. "There are cliffs and waterfalls and valleys and dry places. And there's a lot of ethnic diversity with Filipinos and Chinese and a lot of mixed people. But even so, we are all the same - Hawaiians just love to have fun."
Even though college exposed them to different people, the three said they were relieved to find friends from their own home state because they had the same culture and could relate to one another's background.
"I think the one thing we have in common is that we miss the beach, the food, and the family," said Nakai.
It was no coincidence that the three left home for school because Hawaii does not have a school of pharmacy. But it was pure chance that brought them together in the same class at a school where usually only one of the 60 to 70 class members is Hawaiian each year, Mikaimi said.
Nakai and Okumoto said they both became interested in pharmacy school after work in a nutritional science class sparked their curiosities. However, Mikami said he had other reasons.
"I knew pretty much what I wanted to do," he said. "My dad is a pharmacist, and my uncle is a pharmacist. They both work at (Molokai Drugs), which my uncle's father-in-law started around 1935. I worked there as a kid, and it always interested me."
Nakai, Okumoto and Mikami are part of the class of 2005, and they say their schoolwork, while not hard, leaves them little time to socialize.
"We try to spend time together," Okumoto said. "But pharmacy school is so time consuming. We're going to get together sometime soon and cook some Hawaiian food."