On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, Pacific Outreach for Youth Services and Education (POYSE) hosted nearly 70 high school students, grades 9-12, from Bear Creek and Stagg High Schools for their inaugural Mentorship Day. High school students were given the opportunity to partner with one of 80 pharmacy students who served as mentors and shared their stories about pursuing higher education, becoming a leader in the profession, and making a difference in the community.

Overall, POYSE Mentorship Day was a success for both mentees and mentors alike. Lindsay Noriega ’13 who served as a mentor believed that the program made a positive impact. “Having the opportunity to speak with these students made me realize that I’m here at the School because at some point in my life someone made the kind of impact that encouraged me to continue my education. With this in mind, I can only say that the value of programs like this are absolutely priceless. I am so grateful that I was able to be there for someone just as I had someone there for me. The most touching part was when my mentee expressed to me that she feels like there are more possibilities out there for her after coming to this event,” she said.

POYSE is a brand new program under Pacific’s International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) and was created by Van Duong ’13 and Gina Stassinos ’13. Duong saw a lack of resources in the community to expose students to college and a lack of role models to help guide students in the right direction. Stassinos was seeking an opportunity to promote the pharmacy profession and using student pharmacists as a resource for healthcare. Duong and Stassinos decided to join forces to create POYSE.

After learning that POYSE did not receive grant funding from the Phi Lambda Sigma Leadership grant, Duong and Stassinos were not discouraged. They were committed to establishing a mentorship project and they were set on finding a way to make it happen. Soon they met with Dr. Nancy DeGuire ‘89 and shared their passion and goals for POYSE and she was able to offer them funding from the Flowers Heritage Foundation grant.

“Dr. DeGuire believed in us and supported our mission of going Beyond the Gates to give the Stockton youth an opportunity to learn more about higher education and the pharmacy profession. We are really grateful for that,” said Duong.

Like many new ideas, Duong and Stassinos were met with many challenges along the way. They needed to prove that they can serve as professional and reliable resources for high school students and that the materials they were presenting were appropriate and accurate.

In addition to meeting their mentors, the students also participated in workshops throughout the day.

“It’s important to have all our ducks in a row. The high school administrators were happy to meet with us to evaluate our materials and from there we were able to streamline the program a little more,” commented Stassinos.

On another note, they also received some positive feedback. Stagg High School was so impressed with POYSE, they created a student organization called College and Pacific Pathway to get students interested in participating in the program. With the huge support from Stagg’s administration, POYSE was able to present to an audience of more than 100 students.

Duong and Stassinos, along with IPSF members, are planning to make the next event bigger and better. In the future, they hope to collaborate with other programs and departments on campus to open the University’s doors to all of Stockton’s high schools.

“After planning for the event, having it happen was monumental,” said Duong. “We put in a lot of time and effort and we gave the program our best. I hope that we made a good impression on the high school students,” added Stassinos.

The purpose of POYSE is to promote youth interest in higher education, using pharmacy students as role models and mentors, and to provide high school students with information and advice on how to pursue and succeed in higher education as well as providing education on teen health issues.



By Dua Her '09
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