FACES Students and SMU Mentors Explore Oakland

Student mentors from Samuel Merritt University have scheduled several fun field trips in 2014 to interact with their teenage pupils enrolled in the FACES for the Future Coalition, a local non-profit that prepares underserved youth for careers in healthcare. On Saturday, Feb. 8., a group of SMU and high school students from Hayward visited the Oakland Zoo in the first outting of the year.

The FACES for the Future Coalition is a collaborative of statewide programs that works to address health equity for all communities through the training and empowerment of young people. The link between the program and the Samuel Merritt University (SMU) community is a strong one: Dr. Tomás A. Magaña, Assistant Professor/Medical Director in the Master Physician Assistant Program at SMU is the co-founder and director of FACES, which provides healthcare internships, academic support and wellness training to high school students.

For the SMU students, the mentor program outline includes weekly phone call check-ins with their FACES students to keep in touch with what is going on in their day-to-day lives, participating in the field trips, working with the students during their internship at St. Rose Hospital, and a series of monthly workshop/activities at St. Rose. 

Additionally, they are working on another gross anatomy field trip to SMU in April or May.  

"For us at SMU, this is an opportunity to be involved in meaningful community outreach which crosscuts University goals to develop a more meaningful presence in our community, enhance the diversity and inclusiveness of our campus and, ultimately, has the potential to contribute to health workforce and pipeline development," said Mike DeRosa, Chair of the SMU PA program. "The SMU PA students have been great, and so have the FACES students; they have been very open and engaged with our students. It was fun to hear their conversations at the zoo, talking about courses and pre-requisites and their shared experiences. There was a lot of true mentorship happening. I am hopeful that as FACES programs expand we can expand the mentorship opportunity to other schools/departments on campus." 

"Many of the FACES students have never been to some of these places in the Bay Area, so it's also a time when we can expand their experiences," added S. Brooke Briggance, FACES Program Manager. 

The Oakland Museum is most likely the next destination for the FACES students and their SMU PA student mentors.