COP students leading a drive to help students in Puerto Rico include (from left to right): Jimmy Nyugen, Anna Majerczak, Nilma Ortiz and Victor Santizo.
COP students leading a drive to help students in Puerto Rico include (from left to right): Jimmy Nyugen, Anna Majerczak, Nilma Ortiz and Victor Santizo.

Students at Roosevelt University’s College of Pharmacy (COP) proved recently that their calling to help others goes beyond patients.

Raising more than $2,000 last fall during an RU Helping fundraiser, four Roosevelt pharmacy students extended their reach to include helping students like themselves in storm-torn Puerto Rico.

“I feel like helping anyone is important. As pharmacists, that’s what we’re here for,” said first-year COP student Victor Santizo, 27, of Chicago, an organizer of the fall benefit on behalf of the University of Puerto Rico School of Pharmacy.

More than 50 people attended the event that included silent auctions, raffles, trivia and contests at Roosevelt’s Schaumburg Campus.

“It’s definitely something that’s near to my heart,” said Nilma Ortiz-Colon, 28, of Addison, a first-year COP student and event organizer whose family in Puerto Rico is still without power in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

Cara Brock, a Roosevelt assistant professor of clinical sciences who regularly encourages students to follow their hearts in helping others, said she hopes RU Helping will be an annual event.

“The students had a lot of enthusiasm for this project,” said Brock.  “They are an example of all that Roosevelt University stands for in its mission of social justice and we applaud them for this effort.”

Fundraising proceeds will help support University of Puerto Rico fourth-year pharmacy students who are unable to complete required experiential rotations in the wake of damage to rotation sites caused by the hurricane.

Many colleges of pharmacy in the mainland U.S., including Roosevelt’s COP, have offered experiential rotation sites for displaced students in Puerto Rico.  This helps to address the problem, but also comes with additional costs for travel and lodging that many of the displaced were not prepared to incur. Thus, all money raised as part of the COP fundraiser is for support of students who must now travel to complete their training.

“I’ve always been one to do volunteer work, but being so busy at school, I have found it difficult to take on many volunteer roles,” said event organizer and second-year Roosevelt pharmacy student Anna Majerczak, 25, of Long Grove. “I was glad to be able to participate in such a worthwhile cause.  It means a lot to be able to help.”

Jimmy Nguyen, 24, of Chicago, a second-year Roosevelt pharmacy student who also was an event organizer, called the work an “outcome of advocacy and awareness training” that is emphasized at Roosevelt.

“It was an opportunity to further one of our primary missions as pharmacists, which is to show compassion for others in times of need,” said Nguyen. “We don’t need another natural disaster,” he added, “but we hope to have a major fundraiser like this every year, regardless of the cause, for those who are in need.”

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