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For the first time in Touro University California’s history, Orientation Day will be a virtual event, filled with activities and programs that mirror the actual experience. The decision to move this annual tradition to a virtual platform is a result of Covid-19 and Touro’s dedication to maintaining a healthy environment.
The 2020 Fall semester will consist of a combination of remote and hybrid courses that best fits the learning outcomes for specific academic programs.
This means that some programs/classes may be fully remote, while other programs/classes may be in a hybrid format – classes being online with short periods of time in the classroom on the TUC campus.
Normally, a new school year would begin with orientation on the Touro University California campus, with students wandering to various locations to get up to speed on everything the campus has to offer.
This school year, as well as the one about to begin, are not normal by any stretch, but Student Affairs has coordinated a campus-wide effort to create an online orientation that should help new students learn the ins and outs of the university and prepare them to hit the ground –or Zoom – running.
New students already have access to a checklist to ensure all of their important documents are in one place prior to the school year beginning. Some of those documents include immunizations, financial aid, and registration.
The checklist also includes contact information for the appropriate person to help students who do not have any of the necessary forms filed prior to starting the school year.
Part of the lure of orientation for new students is the opportunity to meet other wide-eyed new students and this year is no exception with the creation of Touro Community Campfires.
These virtualcampfires – minus the marshmallows, of course – are akin to normal campfires where students can engage on Zoom to get valuable information about student life, campus resources, or to ask questions of different department representatives.
The campfire events will also engage students with a series of fun activities meant to ease some of the anxiety that is common at the start of any new phase in life.
One benefit of an online orientation format is students will have far more time to familiarize themselves with all of the information that is presented.
Starting in July, new students will have an opportunity to review material, prior to the start of the academic year - on a new student informational website. This website includes not only the many University offices and resources available, but also important guidelines/expectations from specific academic programs. Students can review this information at their leisure throughout July.
Fall Semester Orientation events for specific academic programs will begin on various dates throughout August.
The departure of Dr. Rae Matsumoto as Dean of the College of Pharmacy will leave, as some in COP have said, “big shoes to fill.”
Dr. Matsumoto will leave Touro University California following the Spring 2020 term to take over the same role at Stockton’s University of the Pacific.
Under Dr. Matsumoto’s guidance, the school has remained committed to underserved communities, with COP conducting more than 125 outreach and recruiting events each year. COP remains a consistently diverse student body. To reflect this fact, in recent years, students have earned awards for helping translate a number of simple but important pharmacy-related messages and guidelines in numerous different languages.
Recognizing the financial hurdles that can sometimes inhibit student progress, Dr. Matsumoto helped oversee a series of grant programs to help expand campus research programs.
|Dr. Rae Matsumoto (R) with student winners of the 2019 Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge.|
Colleagues within the COP program’s management team respected Matsumoto’s dedication to the program’s students, calling her, “the epitome of a scientist and a leader,” in a statement the group prepared jointly.
The statement continued, reading in part, “(Matsumoto) dedicated her work and personal time to matters that made a difference to the students, faculty and staff of the College of Pharmacy, Touro University California.”
Her colleagues noted that Matsumoto continued and enhanced the legacy of female leadership within the College of Pharmacy, stating she lead, “with excellence, compassion, resilience, and action and with unwavering optimism and good humor.”
Dean Matsumoto was a tireless worker but recognized the need to strike a work-life balance, both for students and college faculty and staff.
She helped support the construction of the campus meditation garden and was a generous philanthropist for a number of causes on campus, including MOSAIC.
Her support of statewide advocacy events such as Legislative Day demonstrated her promotion of the pharmacy profession in all of its forms.
While her time at Touro University was relatively short in terms of an entire career, the impression she left on the College of Pharmacy is indelible, as noted in a closing sentiment from her COP collegaues.
“Dean Matsumoto was a valued leader of the College of Pharmacy, and we wish her happiness and success in her next endeavor.”
While the topic has been on the leading edge of political discussion in recent years, the notion that college is expensive is nothing new. Every little bit helps, and Touro student Serena Lee, PA-S, had some of that financial strain taken off her shoulders earlier this year by earning one of two NCCPA Endowed scholarships through the PA Foundation.
More than 200 total students applied and Lee was one of 22 students to earn PA Foundations scholarships during 2020 Cycle 1.
Students represent 19 different PA programs in 13 states around the country and Grace Landel, MEd, PA-C, Touro’s PA program director, said she wasn’t aware of another Touro student in the past to have earned a similar scholarship from the PA Foundation.
Lee became aware of the scholarship nearly by happenstance, finding information about the PA Foundation awards through a blog posting. After doing some research about which scholarship fit her needs most, she settled on applying for the NCCPA Endowed scholarship and applied.
“The NCCPA Endowed scholarship is awarded to students who identify as either an underrepresented minority, economically disadvantaged, and/or educationally disadvantaged,” Lee said.
Other awardees are from much bigger schools with national brand recognition like Keck Medical School at USC, Stanford Medical and Northwestern.
Lee said her focus wasn’t on trying to be more impressive than the other candidates but rather by focusing on the truth of her own situation.
“I wasn’t trying to impress the selection panel in any sort of way,” Lee said. “I just wanted to share my story as to how the challenges my family and I have gone through have allowed me the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a PA.”
Lee is a first-generation Asian American whose parents sacrificed greatly to ensure Lee and her siblings had a good education. Her parents worked multiple jobs to ensure she was the first person in her family to graduate from college – eventually enrolling at Touro.
Upon graduating in 2022, Lee said she plans – after a needed vacation – on returning to her hometown of Sparks, Nevada and serving her community. “As a true Nevadan, it is important for me to go back and take care of the community I grew up in,” she said.
“I am still in awe that I was selected as one of the recipients,” Lee added. “Everyone is different, they have different stories to share. I just wanted to share mine with the selection panel and represent Touro with pride.”
TUC is delighted to announce that Dr. Alison A. McCormick, a professor in the College of Pharmacy, was recently awarded a new R01 research grant from the National Institutes of Health entitled “Rapid Manufacturing of a Universal Flu Vaccine Using TMV-conjugated Centralized Antigens”.
This grant will support Dr. McCormick for 5 years with more than $800,000 to support her research on the TUC campus. The funded research project is an extension of her work on influenza vaccines made in plants, a 15 year effort supported by numerous publications on the success of a plant-based vaccine production strategy.
This grant will support development of a new plant-based vaccine with significantly improved efficacy against seasonally-drifted influenza virus strains, and a longer duration of immune protection. Dr. McCormick will collaborate with Dr. Eric Weaver (University of Nebraska, Lincoln NE) and Dr. Richard Webby (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis TN) along with their biotechnology industry collaborator Kentucky BioProcessing, to prototype and test vaccine candidates in murine and ferret models of influenza.
It’s not likely MPH degree holders could have imagined their professional industry would be so thoroughly and completely thrown in the limelight as it has been during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
For 2016 Touro grad Matt Green, MPH, his organization, Solano County Health & Social Services, has been right in the middle of the outbreak locally, but Green didn’t have to wait for a pandemic to come around before he was making significant contributions to community health programs.
He worked earlier in his career on nutrition programs, both in Vallejo and with a program in Bolivia, and has since added elements that allows him to advocate for improvements in health outcomes, as well as social and racial justice programs.
“I’m primarily rooted in Public Health, and also work across all divisions within our organization: Behavioral Health, Child Welfare Services, Employment & Eligibility, and Medical Services,” Green said.
Green, and his fellow PH students studied in night courses at Touro following their shifts at their day jobs and it was this environment that helped light the fires of passion for this work that burns to this day.
“My cohort was full of kind and brilliant people, I learned a lot from them, Green said. “It was cool to come to class and be with such dedicated, compassionate people after working during the day full-time at job that I didn’t find purpose in.”
“Every class taught me something that I employ in my work today,” he added. “The whole program also strengthened my resolve to advance social justice and equity.”
That fact has proved useful lately, particularly as more and more public health professionals and students look at public health through the prism of social justice.
“I have been inspired and impacted by all of the PH faculty: special thanks to Dr. Aalborg, Prof Sullivan, Dr. Cummings, Dr. Hernandez, and many more,” Green said.
With recent public health orders from the state focusing coronavirus conditions 19 counties, including Solano County, Green’s department looks to stay busy battling the outbreak for the foreseeable future.
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