Community Connections


Collaboration- It’s the best way to provide care and the only way to create solutions to our healthcare inequities. It was great to work with Marshall B. Ketchum University PA Program and the Tena Foundation to provide care to LAs homeless population. Here’s to the first of many!

Urban Food Systems Symposium 2018

CDU PA program students, Gessica Davila and Veronica Ward, were selected to present their community engagement projects, "L.A. helping L.A"and "Move your Feet then Eat", during the 2018 Urban Food Systems Symposium. Their presentations were a part of the "Food Security in Cities" session during the conference. LA Helping LA (LAHLA) is a collaborative volunteer effort created by CDU PA students with the goal to build a healthier community in the South Los Angeles area. LAHLA was founded in 2016 to address the scarcity of healthy food and health care disparities in South Los Angeles. Our target population, Service Planning Area 6 (SPA 6) includes cities such as Compton, Crenshaw, Florence, Lynwood, Paramount, Rosewood, Watts, West Adams, Willowbrook, and Windsor Hills, and is considered to be a “food desert”. The Move Your Feet Then Eat project involves the collaboration of volunteer health professionals to promote healthier lifestyles through multicultural dance and food preparation classes.


Greater Zion Community Fair

July 29, 2018

On Sunday, July 29 the CDU PA Program participated in the Greater Zion Community Health Fair. Greater Zion is a local church in Compton with its influences starting in 1952 and has remained a strong presence in the community today. LAHLA (LA Helping LA) and MYFTE (Move Your Feet Then Eat), organizations created by the first 2 PA classes respectively, provided their resources to address the healthcare disparities that the local community face –being a food desert with poor availability to nutritious food, increased cardiovascular disease, increased obesity, and increased diabetes compared to other communities within Los Angeles County. LAHLA offered complimentary fruits and vegetables provided by our partner Food Forward that gathers excess food from farmers markets, farms, and grocery stores. We also offered health screenings –blood glucose and blood pressure checks, nutrition information, and exercise equipment giveaways to promote a healthier community as a whole. MYFTE brought fresh delicious ingredients to demonstrate how to make zucchini pasta and offered giveaways as well. CDU brought the HIV mobile for screenings, our partners City of Hope provided information on their services and St. Johns Well Child and Family Center were available to schedule primary doctor appointments regardless of insurance, registration to vote, and outreach program information. With the combination of congregation members of the church and people of the community our services reached around 100 people. This was the second event with Greater Zion and we look forward to more events in the future with them and other facilities in the local community.


Willowbrook summit event with LIT

March 13, 2018

May 19, 2018 our kids participated in the ‘We are Willowbrook’ 2018 Summit. This was an event that was hosted by the Trauma Prevention Initiative, Los Angles County Department of Public Health. The event was broken up into breakout sessions that consisted of the following topics in regards to Willowbrook: Economic and Workforce Development, Civic Engagement and Community Hubs, and Youth Empowerment. Our students were asked to lead the Youth Empowerment session and brought to it an amazing performance of short skits that represented various ways children are exposed to traumatic events in their daily lives. Discussion questions were posed and fruitful conversation filled the room; to say that we are so proud of these bright students is an understatement. Their vitality, wit, and wicked improv skills blew us away, and definitely left a positive impact on the Willowbrookian’s that attended.

Move Your Feet Then Eat Event

May 16, 2018

Charles R. Drew University PA students had their first community outreach event at Amino Mae Jemison Charter Middle School. Move Your Feet Then Eat project was created to help lower childhood obesity and decrease cardiovascular disease within the SPA6 area. With the first culture being Latin, the PA crew taught the middle school students salsa by incorporating spins, turns, and a cardio warm-up. The students also had the opportunity to be awarded a prize for answering the correct artist and song title to the Latin music being played. After the dance class the students prepared veggie tacos with fresh ingredients using a simple recipe. The PA crew facilitated and educated the students about the health benefits of the provided food as the middle school students utilized kitchen equipment to create a healthy meal. The event ended with many satisfied students who were able to take home their left-over creations and recipes.

Pre-PA Conference

On Saturday May 5th, the class of 2019 held the first annual Pre PA conference for students, by students.The event included over 80 Pre PA students participants, 11 PA Programs, and a PA student and PA-C panel. The students participated in workshops and information sessions designed to guide students on their path to becoming a PA.

Leaders in Transformation

The Leaders in Transformation (LIT) Fellowship is a youth engagement initiative led by a passionate group of Post Baccalaureate and PA students committed to revolutionizing the provision of health services in communities most adversely impacted by poverty, institutional racism, and violence. The collaboration between TRAP Medicine, CDU PA Program, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Trauma Prevention Initiative (TPI) is one that endeavors to critically engage high school students in the county's Trauma Prevention Initiative in Willowbrook.

Our group has been meeting every Friday since February 2018 with eight students from MLK-Drew Magnet high school exposing the students to various lectures such as: Trauma & Violence Talk, College Scholarship assistance, and diving deep into Willowbrook’s demographic history and talking about Equity versus Equality with Dr. Cynthia Gonzalez. Moreover, the students are involved in two projects in efforts to impact Willowbrook in a positive way. The groups are Homeless Helpers United which focuses on providing needs and assistance to the homeless in Willowbrook and Phoenix project which focuses on bringing awareness to mental health. Our goal is for LIT to become an arm of the university to maintain a pulse on the voices of local youth; and to begin to create pathways for King-Drew students to pursue post-secondary opportunities at CDU.

Break the Chains, participated in World Health Day

April 7, 2018

The Break the Chains social justice group participated in World Health Day on April 7, 2018. Students celebrated by packing and providing hygiene kits for the homeless communities of Los Angeles. World Health Day is a global initiative put forth by the World Health Organization and is celebrated on April 7th every year. This year's theme of "Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere” charged participants to inform individuals and communities of their ability to receive the health services they need, when and where they need them while also preventing people from being pushed into poverty when paying for health services on their own.

For more information on the Break the Chains social justice group, please email

PA Class of 2018 and Class of 2019 community outreach project winners.

  • LA Helping LA, LAHLA, is a collaborative volunteer effort created by Charles R. Drew University Physician Assistant students whose goal is to build a healthier community in South Los Angeles. We strive to do so by increasing healthy food availability and empowering members of the community by providing nutrition and wellness education. LAHLA was founded in 2016 to address the scarcity of healthy food and health care disparities in South Los Angeles. Our target population, Service Planning Area 6 (SPA 6) includes cities such as Compton, Crenshaw, Florence, Lynwood, Paramount, Rosewood, Watts, West Adams, Willowbrook, and Windsor Hills, and is considered to be a “food desert”.
  • The Move Your Feet Then Eat project involves the collaboration of volunteer health professionals to promote healthier lifestyles through multicultural dance and food preparation classes. CDU PA students teach students of SPA-6 dance styles and healthy food choices from different cultures. Move Your Feet Then Eat will encourage students of SPA6 to express themselves, promote teamwork, and increase confidence while fighting obesity and cardiovascular disease.

CDU PA Program Song Writing Workshop

March 13, 2018

On Tuesday, March 13, 2018, the CDU PA program joined with Music Notes LLC to host its second annual Song Writing Workshop. Students and faculty worked in groups to write and perform their best songs about what it means to be a PA. Despite having to study for midterm examinations, the students jumped at the chance to sing, dance, and have fun! The CDU PA crew would like to thank LaMar Queen, Jimmy Pascascio, David Landix and Music Notes LLC for teaching us how to incorporate music into medical education!

Second Year PA Student Completes Jerusalem Marathon

March 8, 2018

Congratulations to CDU PA student Brenda Nguyen for completing a full 26.2 mile marathon in Jerusalem with the Skid Row Running Group and another 30,000 participants! While runners were able to pass by historical sites of this 3,000 year old city, walking in the footsteps of former kings and prophets, they were faced with the daunting total elevation gain of 2,580 ft, which included climbing the legendary Mount Scopus. Brenda not only finished, she PR’d her marathon time from 4:47:14 to a crushing 4:29:15!!! The entire CDU PA crew is beyond proud of Brenda’s accomplishment and her involvement with the Skid Row Running Group. Go Brenda!

Healing Circle with Assemblymember Mike Gipson

Thursday, March 1, 2018

On Thursday, March 1, 2018, Assemblymember Mike Gipson visited the CDU campus to host an event called the Healing Circle. The purpose of this event was to provide a safe environment for community members, allies, immigrant families, and supporters of Dreamers to “heal, share, and express.” Mike Gipson provided legislative updates on DACA and invited attorneys to provide DACA consultation and renewal services. Thank you to everyone who attended this event! The CDU PA program is beyond grateful to have Assembymember Mike Gipson fight for social justice within the community.

Community Health Symposium

February 23, 2018

Several of the 2nd year PA students attended the 1st Community Health Symposium hosted by Les Howard, PA at the USC PA Program. During this event, students discussed with NHSC ambassadors about academic debt management, such as various scholarships and loan repayment programs. Students also engaged with recruiters from Federally Qualified Health Centers to learn more about opportunities for new graduates.

Towards the end of the evening, Les Howard presented on the "African-American Trailblazers for the PA profession in California (and ultimately, for the entire country).” To the students’ enjoyment, 95% of those trailblazers are CDU ALUMNI!!! As student TaShariah Robinson quotes, “It was so exciting to be reminded that we are attending a school with such a RICH history of cultivating the bold leaders and change-makers of our field!”

Our students wrapped up the evening by taking photos with Windell Wharton, the first African American president of CAPA; Sonya Earley, member of the California Physician Assistant Board; and Alabi Akinloye, PA-C and CDU graduate.

Uncovering the Unknown Lecture by Christopher Sistrunk, PhD

February 16, 2018

Dr. Christopher Sistrunk, faculty member of the Department of Population Sciences at the City of Hope, visited the CDU PA program as a guest speaker. Lecture topics included breast cancer, unknown environmental factors that impact all diseases, health disparities and careers in the biomedical field. Dr. Sistrunk discussed the connections between environmental pathogens/pollutants as they affect genomics, cancer incidence, screening processes, and point of care. Students and faculty present were impressed and fascinated by Dr. Sistrunk’s enthusiasm and knowledge of malignancies from tumor markers to social impacts of disease.

We are extremely grateful for Dr. Sistrunk taking time to share his expertise with 1st and 2nd year PA students, faculty, and staff. The entire CDU PA crew cannot wait to have him back on campus again!!!

PA students visit residents at Royal Oaks nursing facility for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2018

Our PA students shared the love this Valentine's season at one of our local nursing homes. The afternoon started with bingo, Black History Month edition, and ended with live piano music thanks to our talented student Joe Gomez. We were reminded that sometimes all we need is a little company and laughter to make the day that much sweeter. Special thanks to Royal Oaks nursing facility for letting CDU join you.

CDU PA Program Watt’s Community Bike Ride

The 2nd Annual Bike Ride (December 14, 2017) brought PA students, faculty, staff and other CDU students together to learn more about the history and culture of the Watts-Willowbrook area. The history of South Los Angeles including the Watts riots are essential knowledge for students to genuinely understand the community surrounding their University.  The bike ride allowed students to gather background information about the community they serve and allow them to interact with community members. After the bike tour, students felt as if they are knowledgeable members of their community. They began planning projects, events, and activities that will bolster pride and health education to the Watts-Willowbrook residents.

Tour stops included Watt’s Coffee House, where PA students were able to get to know this local business and support it,  and His Sheltering Arms (HSA), an inpatient treatment facility for women with substance use disorders and trauma, where PA students were able to interact with HSA clients and teach them an interactive exercise routine.

Assembly Member Mike Gipson Visits the CDU PA Program

Born in Watts, Assembly Member Mike A. Gipson was elected in November 2014 to represent California’s 64th Assembly District that includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor Gateway, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, South Los Angeles, Torrance, Watts/Willowbrook and Wilmington. He is also a member of several Assembly committees including: Aging and Long Term Care, Chair of the Select Committee on Infectious Diseases in High-Risk Disadvantaged Communities, Community and Law Enforcement Relations and Responsibilities, Domestic Violence, Foster Care, Non-Profit Sector.

Continuing his path of public service, Assembly Member Gipson began his second term in office by authoring legislation to close a deadly loophole in the California Penal Code, providing internet related services for foster and incarcerated youth, and establishing a working group to bring back Career Technical Education for K-12. He was also successful in securing $11.3 million for Compton Community College, on the heels of their new accreditation, to support the college’s transition into an independent institution.

On December 7, 2017, our PA students welcomed Assembly Member Gipson with open arms and sang Tupac’s “Changes” emphasizing the need to change the world through providing quality care to patients who deserve it, singing “it’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes.” Assembly Member Gipson lauded the PA students on their path to caring and advocating for marginalized communities and talked about his work centered on eliminating health disparities. Assembly Member Gipson inspired the students to live out the CDU mission and incorporate social justice into their practice as future PAs.

Men’s Health Event

On November 18, 2017, the Charles R Drew University Physician Assistant program partnered with Greater Zion Church for the first Men’s Health Fair and Forum.  With the help of LAHLA organization, some of the first and second year students created a short presentation to teach men about various diseases and disorders that cause disparities in the surrounding community.  The presentation focused on recognition of signs and symptoms of various cancers, Hypertension, Diabetes, and Coronary Artery Disease.  Another main focus revolved around Prevention and screening tools available.  We had the pleasure to educate an audience of 20+ men with ages ranging from 10 - 60+.  We are very pleased with the commitment shown by these men to gain the knowledge in order to govern their own health.
The Charles R Drew University Physician Assistant Program would like to sincerely thank Pastor Fisher, Mishaun, and the entire Greater Zion Church Family for this wonderful opportunity and cannot wait for our next event to bring health and wellness to our community.
Daniel Pipkin PA-S Y2
Robert Cao PA-S Y2
Eric Woodward PA-S Y1
Anthony Rizzuto PA-S Y1
John Hofisi PA-S Y1

“Prevention is the only cure.” ~ Dr. Mavis Billips

LA Helping LA Event at the 1st Annual CDU Science Day

July 22, 2017

LA Helping LA (LAHLA) held its first event during the 1st Annual CDU Science Day. With the help of Food Forward, who supplied the fresh vegetables and fruit, LAHLA was able to spread health and wellness to the students attending Science Day. The day before the event, the PA students made “goodie bags” loaded with a plethora of colorful produce, some of which consisted of cucumbers, carrots, mangoes, grapes, apples, and zucchini. The day of the event, LAHLA held a booth, which provided brochures containing healthy eating, nutrition, and exercising tips, as well as handing out 100+ goodie bags! LAHLA also got the students moving with volleyball and basketball games. It was a day full of health, wellness, and FUN!
LA Helping LA.jpg

Spread the Love Bike Tour

On February 14, 2017 The Charles R. Drew University PA program celebrated Valentine’s Day with a “Spread the Love” bike tour through the Watts community. Students and faculty explored the city, spreading knowledge about safe sex practices and doling out some Valentine’s Day love. The first stop was His Sheltering Arms, where students passed out some goodies and showed off their new step routine. In return, the ladies surprised them with some TLC karaoke. Other stops included Watts local restaurant, LocoL, for some ballin’ and delicious burgs and foldies, and the historic Watts towers. The bike ride was a great way to get to know the community better and show our support!

Camino Nuevo High School Miramar Career Day

February 8 2017

On February 8 2017, The Charles R. Drew University's Physician Assistant program was invited to participate in career day at the Camino Nuevo High School Miramar in Pico/Union area of Los Angeles. It was an amazing and enlightening experience to inform students about the CDU PA program, as well as discussing the new and exciting undergraduate degree program in Biomedical Sciences that will be offered this coming fall semester. Personal testimonies were shared by PA Class of 2018 students, Robert Cao, Fatuma Ahmed, and Brianna Reyes: each story shared had a similar theme of overcoming obstacles in pursuit of a career in healthcare and the importance of social injustices within medicine. A short story of Dr. Charles R. Drew's life was shared which related well with the Camino Nuevos mission: "Making students critical thinkers and independent problem solvers who are agents of social justice with sensitivity toward the world around them." Many of the students had never heard of Dr. Drew or the role of a PA! After the panel, many students had questions about the variety of healthcare career options available and showed great interest in learning more about these opportunities. The students, faculty, and staff were thankful for the opportunity to engage with students, share experiences, and shite light on the possible career options available in the health care field.

Songwriting Workshop

January 24 and 31, 2017

The CDU PA program had the pleasure of inviting LaMar Queen from Music Notes Company to participate in a songwriting workshop in order to create an innovative learning experience while applying newly learned medical knowledge.  LaMar Queen is a middle school math teacher in South Central Los Angeles who happens to look a lot like Kayne West! Queen is passionate about creating rap songs that integrate math, in order help his students learn in a more creative and fun environment-and it works!  He began his work in 2007 and has brought musical education to students and faculty across the country-not only performing but teaching others this educational, effective, and innovative skill! 

The PA students spent two evenings writing and rehearsing rap songs related to the subjects they are learning about in the PA program including Cardiology, Pulmonology, Infectious Disease and Gastroenterology.  Their Professors even joined in and performed a song titled, “What is a PA?”

It was a wonderful and successful educational experience.  The students not only learned how to write but also performed the songs.  All groups wrote exceptional lyrics and the performances were fun and exciting!  Congratulations to Class of 2018 students Antonia, Teamese, Ta Shariah, and Fatuma, who won the popular vote as the “Best Overall” group. Stay tuned for their newly recorded hit single!

We would like to thank LaMar Queen, Jimmy Pascascio, and David for taking time out of their busy schedules to help us foster our creative side and engage in such a fun and innovative learning experience.

His Sheltering Arms Thanksgiving Celebration

November 22, 2016

On November 22, 2016, the Drew PA Crew had the opportunity to participate in the His Sheltering Arms Thanksgiving Celebration. Along with Dr. Beavers and the HSA (His Sheltering Arms) crew, the PA students and staff helped to feed hundreds of local community members who may not have otherwise been able to celebrate Thanksgiving on their own. The students also participated in the resource fair by holding a “Give Thanks” booth where attendees could write down what they were thankful for, giving them the opportunity to learn more about the community members and hear about their experiences. The day was not only filled with food, music and dancing, but hundreds of smiling faces, children laughing in the background, and even a few happy tears. The event was undoubtedly a success and the CDU PA Crew looks forward to participating for many, many years to come!

National Library of Medicine Physician Assistant Traveling Exhibit

November 11 –December 16, 2016

The Charles R. Drew University Physician Assistant Program, partnered with the CDU library, had the honor of hosting the very first National Library of Medicine PA Traveling exhibit. The exhibit consists of six banners that discuss the history and progression of the PA profession and the immense positive impact the profession has had on the U.S. healthcare system in the last 50 years. Subsequent to its first appearance at Charles R. Drew University, the exhibition will be featured in many cities across the U.S., as well as, nine international cities.
Taking place in CDU’s Cobb Lobby, the exhibition ran from November through December. During this time, fellow students and visiting community members had the opportunity to learn about Charles Drew, the PA profession and its history. Additionally, it allowed for the CDU PA program to showcase their community involvement and allow community members to meet the students of the inaugural class. The CDU PA students hosted two tabling events which gave them the chance to give back to visitors through education about the PA profession as well as nutrition, fun quiz games, a scavenger hunt, and valuable prizes such as healthy desserts, recipes and edible plants.

Congress on Campus

Karen Bass Visits CDU

On November 3 2016, the CDU PA Program was beyond excited to have welcomed Congresswoman and Physician Assistant Karen Bass! Congresswoman Bass gave an inspiring speech and the students were given the opportunity to learn more about her accomplishments as a PA and as a member of Congress. She fits in well with drew; Karen Bass is certainly not another brick in the wall! She showed the students and faculty what it means to go above and beyond with her dedication to improving the health of the medically underserved community and inspiring others to do the same. The event culminated in a terrific surprise. CDU students surprised Karen Bass with a flash mob singing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Base”, changing the words to “Super Bass.” Her surprised expression and ear to ear grin of pure happiness were priceless!

CDU PA Students visit King/Drew Magnet High School Students


Inspiring our YOUTH!!

Twelve of the CDU PA students visited King Drew Magnet High School on October 14, 2016. They spoke with 70+ eleventh graders, of which only one student knew what “PA” stood for, but not what the profession entailed. The PA students each shared their unique journey and why they pridefully chose this as their future profession. They emphasized flexibility, job satisfaction, possibilities in any medical specialty, and shared their enthusiasm for clinical/patient work and helping people. The PA students also stressed the importance of academic achievement and grades to have choices in the future. They shared fun, silly ways to study more effectively and the importance of our teachers and mentors in paving our way. After only an hour and a half speaking and sharing the CDU and PA program mission, more than half of the students had questions and expressed excitement. The CDU PA students will return routinely to share and connect with the other grades at King Drew High School and are also excited about spreading knowledge of the profession and making a difference in their home community.

CELLS seeking Justice Symposium with Rebecca Skloot and family members of Henrietta Lacks

August 11, 2016

In August 2016, bestselling author Rebecca Skloot, along side Henrietta Lacks’ family members, visited our own CDU community to discuss her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which examined the history and use of HeLa cells. Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose tissue was taken from her and cultured in a laboratory without her consent. She died from cervical cancer in 1951, however her cell line lived and remains immortal in laboratories to this day.

The CDU PA Class of 2018 joined King/Drew high school students, health professionals, and community leaders for a unique workshop entitled CELLS (Community Engaged in Learning Life Sciences) seeking Justice at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), which explored the bioethics, genomics, and health disparities that were presented in Rebecca Skloot’s book. After the workshop, participants were able to understand the principles of medical ethics, the need to improve healthcare quality, and the principles of epigenetics and personalized medicine based on one’s genotype.

Thank you to Rebecca Skloot and the Lacks family for visiting CDU and King/Drew and sharing the important issues raised by Henrietta’s story!!!