“Pacific gave me a lot of confidence,” said John H. Acosta ’90, PharmD. “I believe Pacific prepares all students to enter their careers, the only limiting factor is themselves. I would encourage every student to explore every facet of pharmacy to find what interests them.”
A class that altered the trajectory of Dr. Acosta’s career was a business management course taught by Carl L. Vitalie, JD, PharmD. Dr. Acosta shares, “He opened my eyes — within pharmacy you can be a business person.” Before becoming a faculty member, Dr. Vitalie held several administrative roles in retail pharmacy, served on the California Board of Pharmacy and provided legal services for the American Pharmaceutical Association. According to Dean Emeritus Donald L. Sorby, PhD, “One of Carl’s lifelong goals was to be able to retire from the business world at an early age to begin a second career in pharmacy education.”
Dr. Acosta also remembers taking classes from Katherine Knapp, PhD; Donald Y. Barker, PhD; Patrick Catania ’68, PhD, RPh and Donald Floriddia ’71, PhD. Dr. Acosta has vivid memories of Dr. Floriddia’s class. “That class was something else,” Dr. Acosta shares. “Pharmacokinetics — that was the class you had to get through to graduate.”
He has many fond memories of his time at Pacific including “getting together with friends, playing basketball, eating sushi and going to the Bay Area.” He adds, “At Pacific all you have to do is cross the bridge and it’s a whole new world. I remember after finals we would go across campus and play a game of basketball. We would play with people we didn’t even know.”
Dr. Acosta worked at Kaiser Permanente before transitioning into a retail setting when he accepted a position at Thrifty, which was later acquired by Rite Aid Corporation. Dr. Acosta explains that Rite Aid offers employees professional development opportunities and they “expose pharmacy managers to aspects of business.” His supervisors at Rite Aid recognized his business acumen and a career opportunity arose. He declined the position because it required him to relocate and he was reluctant to uproot his family. He was later offered a position with Stater Bros. Supermarkets that allowed him to stay local and challenged him to learn new aspects of the industry.
“Even though I was a district manager with Rite Aid, there were stark differences with joining a small regional grocery chain,” Acosta said. He elaborates, “Working for a large chain they have resources. If one of my stores had an issue I would call the corporate office and hand over the problem.” Dr. Acosta enjoys the variety of his current role. He shares, “I have had to learn a lot of different aspects within pharmacy; that has been very invigorating.”
Dr. Acosta and his wife, Sarah, have two daughters, Christina and Ana Marie. “My wife is truly the pillar of my family. She is a wonderful woman, one of the most positive people I know. I believe much of the success we share as a family derives from her. She has taught our daughters that whatever they start they have to finish.”
Christina and Ana Marie have embraced that spirit of resolve and purposefulness. In 2013, from among the thousands of applicants for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court, Ana Marie was named the 96th Rose Queen. Currently, Ana Marie is a pre-medical student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Christina will soon be graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, where she is a double major in human science and psychology. An avid traveler, Christina has visited several developing countries. On one of those trips the interactions she had with a pharmacist set her on a course to also pursue a career in pharmacy. Continuing the Acosta family’s legacy at Pacific, Christina will be joining the doctor of pharmacy class of 2020 in the fall.
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold