Meet Alyssa Hinojosa -Student, Supermom, Future Pharmacist

October 21, 2021

Alyssa Hinojosa keeps pushing for greatness as she pursues a Doctorate of Pharmacy and a Master of Arts in Health Administration, all while raising three boys as a single mother

Woman in white coat smiling“I’m the type of person that, when told I can’t or won’t do something, I do everything possible to get it done.”

Alyssa Hinojosa is a fourth-year Pharmacy student at the Feik School of Pharmacy and is concurrently working on a Master of Arts in Healthcare Administration. But she is also a single mother of three boys and her journey to this point has been anything but a straight path.

Hinojosa grew up in Hebbronville, Texas, a small, underserved, predominantly Hispanic South Texas border town of about 4,500. She had a passion for healthcare from a young age and wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, but becoming a teen mother during her final year of high school made those dreams appear to be out of reach.

Determined to provide for her young son, Hinojosa found a job as a cashier at County Pharmacy in her hometown. It was here that she fell in love with the Pharmacy profession.

“I woke up every day looking forward to go into work, to learn something new, to help treat another patient, or to just simply talk to another customer,” said Hinojosa. “I remember looking at the clock and not wanting the day to end because I truly loved my job. It was then that I realized, my calling was not only in the medical field, but more specifically in the pharmacy as a pharmacist.”

Intent on pursuing this dream, Hinojosa started classes at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. After missing class after class to care for her son, she ultimately dropped out during the first semester, returning to the pharmacy full time.

But her boss and her co-workers encouraged her to return to school and pursue her dream. Six years after graduating high school and now with two young sons enrolled in public school, Hinojosa returned to classes, graduating with a Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M-Kingsville in December 2015.

“I took approximately 18 to 21 hour semesters, commuting each day, working and being a full-time mother,” Hinojosa vaccinates middle son, Jo'Nathan said Hinojosa. “But I graduated in three years with honors.”

The challenges were not over, though. A few months after graduation, she gave birth to her third son. She put her pharmacy school dreams on hold and taught seventh grade science while working part-time as a pharmacy technician at H-E-B for two years.

Her dream of becoming a pharmacist never diminished. After partially finishing an application, but feeling that her entrance scores were too low, Hinojosa received an unexpected email from Elizabeth Hernandez, a counselor/advisor with the UIW Feik School of Pharmacy. Hernendez reached out and asked Hinojosa if she needed assistance with the application.

“This personalized email sent from someone I had never met expressing interest in me and offering her guidance is what encouraged me to submit my application,” said Hinojosa. “I thought to myself, what other schools do this? Feeling that sense of ‘I’m not just a number, I’m an actual person, and Feik sincerely cares,' is why I only submitted my application to the Feik School of Pharmacy.”

The single application to UIW’s Feik School of Pharmacy was enough. While going through the interview process and feeling support from everyone she met, Hinojosa thought, ' this is my home.'

The journey is still challenging, but Hinojosa has the support of her friends and teachers at Feik. More importantly, though, she says she has support from the three people who mean the most to her – sons Hector (16), Jo’Nathan (14) and Alexis (5).

Hinojosa and her three sons smile at the camera“I couldn’t have asked for better children,” said Hinojosa. “My boys are very understanding and supportive of my education and my pursuit to become a pharmacist. They understand the sacrifices our family will have to persevere through for this period of time in order to flourish in our futures.”

Hinojosa has continued to work at a busy pharmacy, which has helped her learn leadership skills, organizational skills and the importance of delegating, all of which have helped her in her studies. She has come to understand that time management is key, but she also understands that, while mistakes and failures will come, what matters is that she continues the journey.

“I have learned to give myself some grace,” said Hinojosa. “I just have to keep going and consistently attempt to do my best. I have to remind myself that my best is all I can give in every situation and the rest is giving myself enough grace to remember that I am not perfect.”

Hinojosa has had to adapt to a new program, a new pace and new learning styles during her time at Feik. Some ask her if she’s “supermom,” but to Hinojosa, she is just doing what she needs to do.

“I don’t think about it. I don’t think about how much I have on my plate, how hard it is, or how overwhelmed I am,” said Hinojosa. “I take whatever obstacle I’m faced with, and I push through it like a bulldozer through a wall. I think to myself, ‘I’m going to get through this one way or another, but I’m not going to let it bring me down or defeat me.’

“There is no expiration date on your journey to success.”