The Post-baccalaureate Pre-health Society (PPS) at the University of Pennsylvania exists for five primary reasons:
1) To provide a community for the pre-health post-baccalaureate students in CGS and to foster social cohesion and continuity within the student body.
2) To create an academic support network with resources such as peer tutoring, study groups, and class reviews, in order to facilitate student development and efficiency.
3) To be a liaison between the program’s students and the CGS office, especially the Assistant Dean of Premedical Programs.
4) To become a gateway between our program and the greater Penn community and represent the pre-health post-baccalaureate students within the University of Pennsylvania..
5) To promote a broader knowledge of the health professions by providing guest speakers, organizing tours to health schools, and developing events that interest pre-health students.
THE HISTORY OF PPS
The Post-baccalaureate Pre-health Society (PPS) was formed in response to the conspicuous absence of peer interaction within the post-bac program. We say hello to the people that sit next to us in class, but we rarely get a chance to interact with one another outside of class. Education extends beyond the classroom; one of the benefits of engaging going to school is the chance to learn from the stories, backgrounds, and experiences of the people in our classes. In the fall of 2003, Rick Kiok and some of his friends recognized this absence and sought to do something about the situation... but what?
A sense of community was missing among the post-bacs. The educational environment for post-bacs is significantly different compared to the experiences traditional undergraduates. For us, we are here to achieve a single goal: Go to medical, veterinary, dental, or some other school for health professionals. We don't have dorms, so we each go home our our separate ways after classes. We needed to create opportunities for post-bacs to get together outside of the classroom, so they could meet each other and socialize like other people.
Rick discussed these problems with his friends Neil Puri and Asghar Rizvi in addition to our advisor, Dr. Hunter. After voicing our concerns to Dr. Hunter, she put Rick in touch with two other students, Marichris Orbeta Ancheta and Chioma Nkwocha, that had similar concerns. The five of us formed the first Executive Board of PPS (even before we had named the organization) and held our first unofficial Board meeting on Thursday, September 25, 2003 to discuss the needs of the students, our goals, and our next steps. After that meeting, we introduced ourselves to Dr. Hunter, and PPS was born.
GROUNDWORK AND MILESTONES
We came to the conclusion that our most viable option was to organize some social events, so we put together a happy hour at Cav's (that's Cavanaugh's for the non-Penn people). However, how would we let people know? Instead of sending out an invitation from an individual, the five of us thought that we would be better served by sending out the invitation from a new student organization. Dr. Hunter allowed us to send an announcement to the pre-health listserv, informing students of the creation of PPS, our first happy hour, and elections for open positions. Shortly thereafter, PPS established a Yahoo! Group containing the online calendar and the listserv through which we disseminate news and information to our members. We held our first General Meeting on Thursday, October 9 and followed it with our first happy hour that was attended by approximately 20 students throughout the night. Both events generated a great deal of interest and, more importantly, allowed students to meet people they might not have otherwise encountered.
Throughout the 2003-04 school year, our inaugural year of activity, PPS established itself in the minds of the students and staff of the Pre-Health and Special Science programs. We organized social events such as happy hours, a trip to a Phillies game, a tour of the Mutter Museum, and a mural tour of Philadelphia. In addition to social events, PPS created their listserv, established a great working relationship with Dr. Hunter and the rest of the CGS staff, secured lounge space for our members in the Graduate Student Center, and created our constitution. Most importantly, the PPS Executive Board tried to develop a plan to sustain the organization beyond the time that they would be in the program.
Tuesday, September 7, 2004 marked another milestone in PPS history. Dr. Hunter asked Rick to speak at post-bac orientation in order to introduce PPS. Following orientation, a PPS-organized campus tour introduced new students to Penn's campus, their new home. The most eventful part of the day arrived at 5PM - elections for the second PPS Executive Board. Rick ran his last PPS meeting and welcomed the new officers: Jennifer Bratton (President), Phil Fava (Vice President), and Rich Watson (Treasurer). Afterward, the group made its way over to Mad Mex to get to know each other and meet students that were unable to make it to the meeting.
The new Executive Board had its first meeting on September 22, 2004 at Rick’s apartment. At the meeting, Rick told the new board members a more detailed history of PPS, including past successes and failures. The new Board discussed what resources were available, possible activities, initiatives, and goals for the coming year. It was decided that the main goals would be acquiring funding, creating a website, and offering social activities. In addition, a separate officers Yahoo! Group was created to facilitate communication both within the board and between the board and the PPS student body.
AND THE SAGA CONTINUES...
During the fall we had a Pub Crawl in center city and an intramural soccer team. However, the fall semester was primarily focused on how to acquire funding. The first step in this process was figuring out if any of the present organizations in the university could fund us. Various members of the board talked to leadership in Student Activities Committee (SAC), Undergraduate Assembly (UA), the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA), and the university finance office. Everyone told us that CGS students could not receive funding because the CGS student activity fee did not go to them. So next, we started to talk with people in CGS about where our activity fee actually went, but that has yet to be elucidated. Since there didn’t seem to be any present system set up through which we could receive funding, we decided to create a proposal on how to fund CGS student organizations, which we could then present to the appropriate administrators. Along with representatives from the other two CGS student organizations, George Matysik from CGS Student Advisory Board (CGS-SAB) and Paul Mello from Penn Minority Post-Bac Student Organization (PMPBSO), we created a funding proposal.
So far this spring semester, there has been a PPS ski trip and an intramural basketball team. The main activity has been creating this website to be a resource for the PPS students. We are also still working on finding administrators to present our funding proposal too. There has been some talk of presenting it to the University Council on which the president of the university sits. In addition two new board members were appointed, Jeff Valdez to the vacated Secretary position and Dan Shin as director of social events.
The constitution was also revised and the Steering Cabinet was created. The function of this committee is to offer more continuity for PPS has an organization. It members comprise former Executive Board members who wish to stay involved and assist the new Executive boards.
Rick Kiok and Jennifer Bratton, March 2005