Student Organizes Community Event in Honor of Her Late Mother
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Student Organizes Community Event in Honor of Her Late Mother

August 11, 2023

PCOM students smile in front of a playground in Lawrenceville before the student-organized back-to-school community event kicks offOn Saturday, July 22, thirty PCOM Georgia medical and graduate students hosted the Sophia G. Facey Back to-School Community Bash at Bethesda Park in Lawrenceville to help underserved families prepare for the new school year. In addition to handing out 230 backpacks with school supplies, student volunteers offered blood pressure checks and hygiene kits, and led fun physical activities. Members of Nett Church, headquartered in Lawrenceville, supported the event by grilling and serving food throughout the day, and the Atlanta Food Bank was also in attendance.

The initiative, which students now hope to make an annual event, was introduced by Akili Jabulani (MS/Biomed '24). She was inspired by her mom, Sophia G. Facey, an accomplished and beloved nurse, known for spearheading similar projects in her community.

Headshot photo of PCOM Georgia biomedical sciences student and event organizer Akili Jabulani“I had the idea because I did it growing up in Spartanburg, South Carolina,” said Jabulani. Volunteering alongside her mom, who passed away when Jabulani was 16, Jabulani added, “She was always giving back and caring. She was hardworking but had a light and bubbly personality. Always smiling, she'd light up the room. Her presence communicated ‘I'm here to be of assistance’.”

Following in her mom's footsteps, Jabulani chose a healthcare path (she plans to become a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and joined Sisters in Medicine, an initiative piloted by the Office of Diversity and Community Relations to support Black women in medical and graduate school.

As the faculty advisor for Sisters in Medicine, Assistant Director of Diversity and Community Partnerships Christy Finley, EdD, stated that the group, which is new on campus, “has been successful in doing two to three events each month since they started.” To make the most impact, Cochairs J'Nae Taylor (MS/Biomed '24) and Alani Gauthier (MS/Biomed '24) held their first strategy meeting in March of 2023 to gather suggestions from members. That's when Jabulani presented her vision for a back-to-school project in her mom's memory.

PCOM Georgia students smile at an information table at the community eventThe hands-on work began in May. With Dr. Finley's assistance, Sisters in Medicine received partial funding from the Community Wellness Initiative (CWI). To boost donations, Dr. Finley said, “We had boxes on campus where students and faculty could drop off school supplies.” Likewise, she added, “Akili was speaking to student organizations on campus about the drive, and they were eager to give back.”

Kianna Anderson (MS/Biomed '23) served as Akili's co-chair. Nysia Wise (DO '26), a member of Sisters in Medicine as well as Advocacy of Medical Students for Families, inspired the latter group to sponsor the book bags.

While Dr. Finley was somewhat concerned about mustering a good turnout in summer, a typically quiet part of the year, she printed 100 promotional flyers for Jabulani, event co-chair Kianna Anderson (MS/Biomed '23), her team to distribute in the community. As Dr. Finley pointed out, “They did targeted marketing!” Nett Church leaders also visited certain neighborhoods to spread the word.

Jabulani was “amazed” by the number of people who showed up. “We ran out of school supplies in the first hour and a half,” she said. “Hopefully, next year, it's 400 backpacks. The more we have, the more we can give.”

The food and games, nonetheless, were enjoyed all day, and this year's event succeeded in performing about 300 blood pressure checks. “We're looking to expand our services next year to include glucose checks and have pharmacy students speak to people about medications,” said Jabulani. She also wants to broaden families' knowledge of the many ongoing community resources available to them.

Photograph of Sophia G. Facey, late mother of PCOM Georgia student Akili Jabulani (MS/Biomed '24)Despite being a well-educated nurse, Facey passed away from a pulmonary embolism. Widowed, she had been a single mother. “She was focused on her job and taking care of my little sister and me,” Jabulani said. Concerned about the stress that so many individuals and families face today, she said, “The goal is to get people involved in health.”

With that in mind, Dr. Finley revealed, “We have a calendar planned for Sisters in Medicine through next July. They're talented, creative students who want to do a lot for the community at PCOM and beyond.”

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    Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and school psychology, and graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, non profit leadership and population health management, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies, school psychology, and public health management and administration. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit or call 215-871-6100.

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