Hello again! Jack Wong here, serving at the University of Michigan. Only a few weeks left in my term. It is hard to believe my time as a VISTA is coming to an end.
Just as a refresher, my primary placement site is the College of Pharmacy where I have been working on a variety of projects, the most significant of which has been to expand an innovative, interprofessional service-learning course. Enrolled college students can complete their service at a variety of placement sites, however, I advocate for Community Action Network (CAN) and Peace Neighborhood Center. Both sites offer after school programs (ASP) for economically disadvantaged K-12 students in Washtenaw County.
Since my last post, I helped to coordinate the service projects for the college students placed at CAN and Peace. The group at CAN led a discussion session that gave teens in the community a chance to ask questions and learn about college. That is, how to prepare, where and how to apply, what college life is like, how to choose a major, etc. While they are normally apathetic, I believe the teens found the presentation useful, as the service-learning students were able to answer their questions and generate dialogue.
The students at Peace also put together a presentation. Theirs, however, was much different. The Director of Children Services at Peace requested that the group of pharmacy and kinesiology students present information about ADHD to parents. She explained that many of the children attending ASP at the center have either been diagnosed or show symptoms of the disorder, and it is important that their parents understand what ADHD is and how best to manage it. Under the supervision of a clinical pharmacist, the students dispelled common myths about ADHD and discussed symptoms and treatment options, emphasizing the importance of supportive relationships.
Transitioning into the summer, I have been mostly preparing for this coming fall, meeting with community partners, recruiting students, and updating webpages and various course documents. I have also been working on my VISTA Year Initiative (VYI). Each summer, CAN offers a camp for the children that attend ASP. In addition to normal camp activities, CAN works to mitigate summer learning loss by incorporating reading, writing, math, and science into daily schedules. This year’s theme has been an exploration of animals around the world. For my VYI, I agreed to develop six weeks of animal themed STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities. The children have enjoyed everything from testing different skunk odor removers to dissecting owl pellets.
As I pursue an MPH, I hope to continue serving with CAN. It has been a great year full of unique opportunities to learn and develop both personally and professionally. I am confident that the knowledge and experience I have gained as a VISTA will be advantageous to my future as a public health professional.
Each blog post is written by one of our program's VISTAs!