High school students from Na Pua No`eau learn about pharmacy

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Date: Thursday, July 28, 2011
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Forty-one native Hawaiian children in grades 9-12 had the opportunity to hear talks from University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo College of Pharmacy faculty and participate in lab demonstrations July 14 on the UH Hilo campus. The visit was part of the two-week “Learning Opportunities in Medicine Institute” at the UH Hilo Na Pua No’eau Center for Gifted and Talented Hawaiian Children.

Dr. Susan Jarvi, pre-pharmacy program director, who helped establish the half-day event with Dr. David Sing, director of Na Pua No’eau, said their intent was to give the youngsters a look at what it would be like to become a pharmacy student.

“We hope we can inspire them to study pharmacy, but our goal is primarily to give them an introduction to labs and encourage critical thinking about science and all STEM fields, which includes technology, engineering, and mathematics,” Jarvi said. “In fact, a career in pharmacy encompasses all those areas. We can offer exposure that they can’t get anywhere else in Hawaiʻi.”

After an introductory lecture about research and natural medicines, the students were able to participate in hands-on demonstrations related to chemical extraction and medicinal uses of plants. They also studied cancer cells using fluorescent microscopy and learned how to make a lotion at College of Pharmacy laboratories.

“We split them into four groups of 10 so we could pack as much information into the time we had allotted as we could,” said Dr. Linda Connelly, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy who coordinated the visit along with Pre-Pharmacy Advisor Tina Phifer and STEP Project Specialist Hi’iaka Kahalewai. “These students were so receptive, asking lots of good questions. Their enthusiasm was contagious.”

The high school students were chosen to participate in a variety of course offerings in the Na Pua No`eau program, which includes traditional academics, sciences, visual arts, leadership and Hawaiian culture. This is the second year that faculty, post-doctoral fellows and students from the College of Pharmacy have participated in the Na Pua No’eau summer program.

“Students come from different communities, backgrounds and schools within the State of Hawai‘i as well as from out-of-state with one common factor - they are all Hawaiian,” said Sing, also a native Hawaiian who has been on UH Hilo faculty since 1974 and was recently awarded Educator of the Year by the National Indian Education Association (NIEA). “We’re so happy to be able to partner with Pharmacy faculty to give our keiki every chance at success that they deserve.”

Na Pua No'eau is a center within the University of Hawaiʻi, with centers on all islands through the UH System with its headquarters at UH Hilo. The Institute is part of a health careers pathway initiative to increase the number of Hawaiian and local students to be better prepared , interested and become viable candidates for the UH Hilo College of Pharmacy, UH Hilo Nursing Program and UH School of Medicine.

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