Community Connections


Social Justice Society Hosts Health Fair at Church in Compton, CA


The Social Justice Society, led by CDU PA students, hosted a Community Health Fair at Cal Baptist Church in Compton on Saturday, April 2nd.  In addition to the Health Fair, the students canvassed the neighborhood passing out flyers, packaged food for distribution, and picked up trash on the day before the event.  These efforts led to a great initial turnout at the Health Fair where free health check-ups were administered to approximately 20 people.  The turnout is expected to increase as the student led Health Fairs will be conducted every first Saturday of the month at Cal Baptist Church.

PA Student, Kristen Hernandez, Hosts a National Hyperhidrosis Panel 

Kristen Hernandez

First year PA student and “How to Hyperhidrosis” patient advocate, Kristen Hernandez, hosted a national Hyperhidrosis panel in November 2021. Panelists included Dr. Sandra Eriksson Mirkovic from Sweden, and Diana Chou, PA-C from Texas, who addressed the most pressing Hyperhidrosis concerns from patients. While Hyperhidrosis is often seen as a rare condition, it affects 5% of the world's population. The Hyperhidrosis Panels convene periodically with the intent to highlight the patient experience and figure out ways to better serve these communities. 

Check out the recording from the Hyperhidrosis Panel by clicking here.  


Social Justice Society

The Social Justice Society (SJS) was created by CDU’s Class of 2021 PA students. The tumultuous and historic year of 2020 sparked the idea to form a student-led collective whose vision is to contribute to the realization of a world with equitable access to health, wellness, and social justice for all. The first seeds of the SJS were formed when PA student, Nicole Mueske, asked her classmates if they were interested in posting a video or photo to social media about their personal relationship with social justice. The prompt that the students responded to was: “I show up for social justice because…”. When students responded with enthusiasm and hope, she continued by organizing a student group and inviting other PA students to join. Months later, and with the full support of program faculty, staff, and Dr. Yufu Kuo, its faculty mentor, the group formally created the mission and goals of the SJS. As future healthcare providers committed to underserved patient populations, they recognized that their actions extend beyond medicine and that their status as a PA student and future PA was a formidable platform to promote change for their patient’s lives, both in health but also within the patient’s communities. #PAsforsocialjustice

Straight Outta Drew: Annual Community Panel

Class of 2020 PA students participate in various Service Learning Experiences

Class of 2020 PA students participate in various Service Learning Experiences during their clinicals off-block. These experiences cultivate strong ties within the surrounding community and foster community welfare.

PA Students Volunteer at CDU COVID-19 Testing Site

PA students volunteer at the CDU COVID-19 testing site. Raising awareness about testing within the community is key to staying safe. The testing site operates seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


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


Move Your Feet Then Eat Event

Class of 2019 PA students hosted their first community outreach event at Amino Mae Jemison Charter Middle School. The Move Your Feet Then Eat project was created to help lower childhood obesity and decrease cardiovascular disease within the SPA-6 area. With the first culture being Latin, the PA crew taught 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 aspiring PAs. The event included over 80 Pre-PA student 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.


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

LA Helping LA (LAHLA) held its first event during the 1st Annual CDU Science Day. With the help of Food Forward, who supplied fresh vegetables and fruit, LAHLA was able to spread health and wellness to students attending Science Day. The day of the event, LAHLA set up a booth, which provided informational brochures on healthy eating, nutrition, and exercise, as well as handing out 100+ goodie bags! The goodie bags were loaded with colorful produce, such as cucumbers, carrots, mangoes, grapes, apples, and zucchini. LAHLA also got the students active with volleyball and basketball games. It was a day full of health, wellness, and FUN!


Camino Nuevo High School Miramar Career Day

The Charles R. Drew University's Physician Assistant Program was invited to participate in career day at the Camino Nuevo High School Miramar. It was an amazing opportunity to inform students about the CDU PA program, as well as discuss the new and exciting undergraduate degree program in Biomedical Sciences that will be offered Fall 2018. 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 shine light on career options available in the health care field.


National Library of Medicine Physician Assistant Traveling Exhibit

The Charles R. Drew University Physician Assistant Program in partnership with the CDU library, had the honor of hosting the very first National Library of Medicine PA Traveling exhibit. The exhibit consisted of six banners that discussed 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. After 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 the CDU PA program to showcase their community involvement and allowed community members to meet the students of the inaugural class. The CDU PA students hosted two tabling events which gave them the opportunity 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. .


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

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 Students visit King/Drew Magnet High School Students

Twelve of the CDU PA students visited King Drew Magnet High School on October 14th, 2016. They spoke with 70+ eleventh graders, of which only one student knew what “PA” stood for, but not what the profession entailed. Each PA student 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. More than half of the students had questions and expressed excitement. The CDU PA students plan to 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.


Healing Circle with Assemblymember Mike Gipson

On Thursday March 1st, 2018, Assembly Member 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 Assembly Member Mike Gipson fight for social justice within the community.


Congress on Campus

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 CDU; 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 medically underserved communities and inspiring others to do the same. CDU students surprised Karen Bass with a flash mob singing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Base,” by changing the words to “Super Bass.” Her surprised expression and ear to ear grin of pure happiness were priceless!


Community Health Symposium

Several 2nd year PA students attended the 1st Community Health Symposium hosted by Les Howard, PA at USC. 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.

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!!! CDU PA 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!”

Pictured is 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

On February 14th, 2017 the Charles R. Drew University PA program celebrated Valentine’s Day with the “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, and the historic Watts towers. The bike ride was a great way to get to know the community better and show our support!


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.


Spread the Love Bike Tour

On February 14th, 2017 the Charles R. Drew University PA program celebrated Valentine’s Day with the “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, and the historic Watts towers. The bike ride was a great way to get to know the community better and show our support!


Songwriting Workshop

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. Queen is passionate about creating rap songs with mathematical themes in order to 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 such as 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. Students not only learned how to write songs, but also learned how to perform 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 was voted the “Best Overall” group.

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.


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

Bestselling author Rebecca Skloot, alongside 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 “Community Engaged in Learning Life Sciences seeking Justice” at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, 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!!!



Top 3 in AAPA’s National Challenge Bowl

The Class of 2019 brought home a win after they competed in the American Academy of Physician Assistant (AAPA) Challenge Bowl held in Denver, Colorado. CDU PA program students placed in the top 3 out of 104 teams that participated. Congratulations to the dream team!


Urban Food Systems Symposium 2018

CDU PA program students, Gessica Davila and Veronica Ward, were selected to present their community engagement projects, "LA Helping LA (LAHLA)" and "Move Your Feet Then Eat (MYFTE),” during the 2018 Urban Food Systems Symposium. Their presentations were part of the "Food Security in Cities" session during the conference. 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 healthcare disparities in South Los Angeles. Our target population, Service Planning Area 6 (SPA-6) which includes the cities Compton, Crenshaw, Florence, Lynwood, Paramount, Rosewood, Watts, West Adams, Willowbrook, and Windsor Hills, is a “food desert.” The MYFTE project involves the collaboration of volunteer health professionals to promote healthier lifestyles through multicultural dance and food preparation.


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 a “food desert.”

The Move Your Feet Then Eat (MYFTE) 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. MYFTE will encourage students of SPA-6 to express themselves, promote teamwork, and increase confidence while fighting obesity and cardiovascular disease.



Holiday Toy Drive

The Social Justice Society (SJS) holiday toy drive raised enough funds to purchase/collect 100 toys, give out $30 grocery gift cards to 25 families, and support a donation of $130 to Calvary Baptist Church. The SJS also distributed 631 holiday cards that were hand-written in Spanish and English. Of these, 511 were shared with 6 South LA care facilities and 120 with Northern California facilities. Way to go SJS! 

PA Students Volunteer through Helping Hands Organization

Helping Hands is a non-profit organization created to slow the spread of COVID-19 through tech-enabled, community volunteerism. Their goal is to connect people who are most at-risk with those who can safely deliver critical items and provide various forms of assistance.  

Food distribution is one of the major efforts of Helping Hands.  Class of 2022 PA students participated in this effort by packing and loading food supplies into Uber vehicles or by using their own vehicles to deliver food to patients in need across Los Angeles County. David Ohnoki, Class of 2022 President, was interviewed by City News as he was volunteered at a food distribution outreach in Hawthorne.  Please see video here (his remarks start at 2:30): 

Greater Zion Community Fair

On Sunday, July 29th 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. LAHLA and MYFTE provided 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, such as blood glucose and blood pressure checks, nutrition information, and exercise equipment giveaways to promote a healthier community. MYFTE brought fresh delicious ingredients to demonstrate how to make zucchini pasta and offered giveaways. 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

CDU PA students participated in the ‘We are Willowbrook’ 2018 Summit. This event was hosted by the Trauma Prevention Initiative, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The event was broken up into breakout sessions that consisted of the following topics regarding 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 left a positive impact on the Willowbrookians that attended.


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) endeavors to critically engage high school students in the county's TPI in Willowbrook.


Break the Chains, participated in World Health Day

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


Men’s Health Event

On November 18th, 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 the LAHLA organization, CDU PA 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 focus revolved around prevention and screening tools available. We had the pleasure of educating 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.

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


>His Sheltering Arms Thanksgiving Celebration

On November 22nd, 2016, the CDU PA program had the opportunity to participate in the His Sheltering Arms (HSA) Thanksgiving Celebration. Along with Dr. Beavers and the HSA crew, PA students and staff helped feed hundreds of local community members who may not have otherwise been able to celebrate Thanksgiving. The students also participated in the resource fair by hosting a “Give Thanks” booth where attendees could write down what they were thankful for, learn more about the community and share 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!


Student Wellness

CDU PA Program Learning and Healing Garden

On August 31st, 2018, the CDU PA Program hosted the “CDU PA Program Learning and Healing Garden Brainstorming” session. During this session plans were made to restore and revitalize the garden. With the enormous and generous help from PA students, faculty, and community members, the transformation was incredible. This led to the founding of the PA Program Garden Committee. The garden has had a profound impact on many PA students as gardening has helped reduce their stress. Additionally, students are gaining knowledge on gardening practices that may be utilized to educate family, friend and community members on nutrition, medicinal herb and plants and environmental awareness. In 2020 the Garden Committee was awarded the CDU’s Mission Maker Mini-Grant.


CDU PA Program Song Writing Workshop

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

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 set an all new personal record. Her marathon time improved 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!


CDU PA Program Watt’s Community Bike Ride

The 2nd Annual Bike Ride 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 expressed that they were more knowledgeable members of their community. They began planning projects, events, and activities that would bolster pride and health education to the Watts-Willowbrook residents.