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Azita Darabian’s love of pharmacy: the ideal mix of science and community

Azita Darabian loved pharmacy for its mix of science and community. When she passed away at the early age of 51, her family created a legacy to honour her memory.

May 27, 2020

When Azita Darabian BSc(Pharm) ’88 passed away in October 2014 at the early age of 51, her mother, Mrs. Pourandokht Darabian, wanted to create a legacy to celebrate her daughter’s memory. Knowing how important the UBC Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences had been to her, Azita’s sister, Hida, and brother, Hooman, suggested endowing the Faculty with a gift in Azita’s name.

Hida’s children Kaveh and Nahal — who like Azita and Hida are both UBC alumni — also knew the significance of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in their aunt’s life, and voiced their encouragement. So, with her children and grandchildren’s support, Pourandokht created the Azita Darabian Memorial Bursary in Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Darabian family knew Azita would have been thrilled that a bursary in her name could benefit pharmacy students in perpetuity. The endowment includes matching funds provided by the university as part of the Blue & Gold campaign.

Accompanied by her parents and brother, Azita came to Vancouver from Iran in 1979. She was 16 years old and excited to be reunited with her older sister Hida, who had already settled into life in the city. Azita had completed grade 10 at a private school, Le Lycée Razi, in Tehran and was fluent in Farsi and French, but knew very few words in English. To prepare herself for high school in Canada, Azita enrolled in an English class. The class was held at UBC, which became Azita’s first learning experience at the university. That fall, she entered Sentinel Secondary School in West Vancouver. She was fortunate to have the support of her French and English teachers who helped her adapt to her new school and curriculum. Azita excelled in math and science, for her these subjects were universal, not dependent on language or culture.

Azita was drawn to science and continued to study it upon her acceptance to UBC. But soon came the question: what branch of science should she major in? Following a tour of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences her choice was made clear. Azita excitedly told her parents of her plans to enroll in pharmacy. Her parents were very supportive of her decision, especially her mother, Pourandokht, who didn’t doubt Azita’s ability or hard work. Pourandokht remembered her daughter’s first summer in Vancouver when she accompanied Azita, by bus, from their home in West Vancouver to UBC, so her daughter could learn English.

Azita found Pharmaceutical Sciences a perfect fit and soon made lifelong friends in her cohort, who all formed a potluck dinner club. To this day, many of Azita’s Potluck Girls remain in contact with her sister Hida. UBC gave Azita a broader picture of life in Canada, and she loved that being a pharmacist was the ideal mix of science and community. Even more importantly, she’d be in a helping profession like her physician father.

Upon graduation from UBC in 1988, Azita worked in a couple of pharmacies, finally becoming a manager for a North Vancouver location in 1992. Azita was a happy person — always calm, accepting and considerate, and she brought this attitude to her profession. She created a community with her colleagues and patients who she considered friends.

With her compassion, Azita was also disciplined and determined, taking this attitude into personal endeavours, in everything from marathon running to flower arranging. She was passionate about teaching younger generations of frontline health care providers. She enthusiastically became a preceptor for pharmacy students coming up through UBC. While growing up, she had often remarked to her family that one day she might become a teacher.

In 1979, upon her arrival in Canada, Azita worked hard to integrate into her new life. As a result of her commitment to her own excellence and attending UBC, Azita realized success as a contributing member of Canadian society as a community-focused health care provider, and mentor to future generations of pharmacists.

If you would like to contribute to Azita’s legacy and support future pharmacists, you can do so via this form.