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Campbell’s PREP program prepares students to apply for advanced health degrees

Fifty students from 27 different colleges and 13 states across the country are spending the week at Campbell University in pursuit of improving their college applications for graduate and doctorate health programs.

The annual Healthcare Professionals Readiness & Enrichment Program (PREP), hosted by the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences and School of Osteopathic Medicine, teaches participants about resume writing, interviewing, time management, test taking and professional development skills.

Campbell started offering the PREP program in 2006 to expose students with under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds to the pharmacy profession. Over the past eight years, PREP has expanded to cover Campbell’s additional health degrees – osteopathic medicine, physician assistant practice, public health, clinical research, pharmaceutical sciences and the anticipated physical therapy program – to enhance diversity in other health fields.

“I attended PREP during the summer of 2010 because it really marketed for diversity, and it was something that I wanted to be a part of,” said Eliana Kurzum, who is a rising third-year pharmacy student at Campbell.

Kurzum was raised by immigrant parents who moved to the United States from Israel in the 1980’s to raise their family in a country without war.

“I’m the first person in my immediate family born in this country and to reach higher education, so I really wanted to do a program that helped guide me to pharmacy school,” Kurzum said.

Her hard work paid off. Following PREP, Kurzum was accepted to Campbell’s dual pharmacy, master’s in clinical research program, moving one step closer to her dream of becoming a pharmacist who specializes in pediatric oncology.

“PREP showed me where my weaknesses were and that I had a lot of misconceptions about pharmacy. It wasn’t just buy these books and this is the formula I needed to take. There were so many different opportunities that PREP showed me. It really broadened my horizons,” Kurzum said.

PREP participants will spend the week learning about different career options in health care and interacting with faculty and student mentors.

“Part of this program is coaching,” said Dr. Mark Moore, associate dean of admissions and student affairs at the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences. “I meet students in this program who have the potential, they just haven’t realized it. They are really talented, but they’ve never had a mentor show them what they need to focus on to improve their applications.”

Campbell’s new doctor of osteopathic medicine program was added to PREP this year. Thirteen students who are interested in the degree are attending the four-day program.

“All of our participants have varied stories about why they want to become a physician and how they can use PREP to help them,” said Mallt Bendall, executive director of student affairs at the School of Osteopathic Medicine. “We know that everyone is not going to come to Campbell, but the broader picture is that we want to help them get where they want to go and achieve their dreams.”

Kurzum has returned to PREP this year as a counselor. It is her second time volunteering as a counselor because the program means a lot to her.

“PREP reminds me of what my weaknesses are, how I’ve changed and what I need to do to move forward,” Kurzum said. “I’m always up for learning new things and it’s great to see the different perspectives that the participants bring each year.”

Photo: Eliana Kurzum, pharmacy student and former PREP participant, volunteers as a counselor at Campbell’s PREP program to help students improve their applications for advanced health degrees. Kurzum is pictured on the right with PREP participants: Avi Pyreddy, Derick Gabel, Amanda Blanchardt and Partick Hardesty.