Volunteering is the best medicine for Hilo pharmacy student

Jairus Mahoe says volunteer service fosters appreciation for humanity, beyond self-interest. And it can lead to unlocking greater depths of compassion.

Jairus Mahoe. at left, with two fellow pharmacy students.

Celebrating the importance of community, health care, and altruism, student pharmacist Jairus Mahoe has set forth on an exhilarating pathway of volunteering. The 28-year-old third-year pharmacy student at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is also president of college’s Phi Delta Chi chapter. A graduate of UH Mānoa, he hopes to obtain his doctorate of pharmacy by 2016.

Mahoe was uncertain of his calling in pharmacology until after graduating from Kealakehe High School. Instinctively gravitating toward the health care industry, he considered becoming a dietician, nurse, or physical therapist at UH Mānoa, but was drawn to a role as pharmacist for its greater compatibility with his lifestyle and personality.

Graduating with an economics baccalaureate degree from UH Mānoa in 2011, he remained a diligent assistant in the employ of physician Dr. Glenn Uto in Honolulu.  Mahoe also contributed voluntary work to a local pharmacy before transferring to Hilo’s pharmacy program.

“I was able to work in a physician’s office (and) saw the patients come in, drop off their prescription, and come by later, so I got to see all aspects of the health care field,” Mahoe says. “I had the privilege of (seeing) patients in a physician’s office and a pharmacy, so in that aspect I could see the prescription that they were getting from their physician and the prescription that they were getting from their pharmacist as well.”

In the spring, Mahoe was elected president of Phi Delta Chi chapter, a position he will hold for the 2014-2015 school year. Joining the fraternity his first year at the college during the 2012 fall semester, Mahoe’s appreciation for the group’s philanthropy echoes his respect for its members’ friendliness. He says their support facilitates his own personal growth.  He cites one community-oriented case as illustrating why the fraternity resonates with him: Operation Christmas Child, where gifts are donated to children and families.

“It was really nice to see the generosity and selflessness of everyone,” he says. “It was the embodiment of the aloha spirit where people are giving of themselves.”

Mahoe is involved in the children’s tobacco-preventive program, “What About Tobacco?” He, with other student pharmacists, deliver hands-on presentations to local fourth-grade classrooms. He also participates in the annual Miloli‘i Health Fair and fundraising for the ALS Association and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Mahoe considers the Miloli’i Health Fair among his most successful volunteer experiences. The fair is an annual outreach event where members of Phi Delta Chi and college advisors offer health screenings at the Miloli‘i Community Center. Screenings include tests for blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. There are information panels, medication counseling, food, and games for children.

“Jairus gives of himself tirelessly, organizing and participating in numerous on- and off-campus activities to promote community service, student involvement and professionalism,” says Forrest Batz, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at the college.

Mahoe believes his volunteer experiences are opportunities to become closer to the community and environment. In general, he says, it has broadened his perspective of what it means to be connected to a greater common good. He says his efforts have taught him that voluntary service fosters appreciation for humanity, beyond self-interest. And it can lead to unlocking greater depths of compassion.

“I’ve always known that life is bigger than myself,” he says. “Volunteering reminds me that this world depends on us helping one another.”

-Adapted from a story by Karl Hennen.