‘I’m a Helper’: Student Affairs Leader is a Champion for Student Success February 8, 2024
Black History Month
Husband, father, brother, sports fanatic, foodie, former member of the Yelp Elite Squad.
Kareem Calliste, senior associate director of career services at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), is a lot of things. The quality he's likely appreciated for the most by PCOM students:
he's a helper.
“I want to help,” said Calliste. “With all of the students I work with, I want to
see them achieve their goals and help them as much as possible.”
In his role with the Office of Student Affairs, Calliste wears many hats. His primary responsibility is assisting students in navigating
the often challenging transition from their undergraduate education to medical or
The workload is rigorous and can often be unforgiving. The challenges for students
also vary widely by program.
“It all depends on the students,” he said. “Students in different programs have different
issues and challenges they're working to overcome.”
Calliste got his start as an undergraduate at Lincoln University. As a political science
major, he envisioned a life in public policy, but would eventually find his way into
higher education. He attended Widener University for graduate school, earning his
master's in public administration.
While at Widener, Calliste got a job as a graduate assistant in the career services
office. Up to that point, he hadn't ever considered a career in higher education.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wow! I kind of like this,’” he said.
Following the advice of a career counselor in the office, he started looking for jobs
in higher education and eventually landed at Peirce College in Center City, Philadelphia.
After a decade at Peirce and two years at Cabrini University, Calliste came to PCOM,
where he's been for seven years.
The hardest part of his job? Not being able to help enough.
“There's only so much I can do,” he said. “I can't take the MCAT for them. I can't
sit in their classes with them. I really just want to see them succeed and I try to
do as much as I can, in whatever way I can, to help them succeed.”
For Calliste, part of ensuring student success is through representation.
“I appreciate the fact that students look to me as someone that they can come to,”
he said. “It's very important for me to be someone who students can see as a visible
presence on campus, so if they feel they need to speak to someone, I'm certainly here
Calliste has also found other ways to connect with students, notably as a transplant
from Brooklyn, New York. “Everybody knows I'm from New York,” he said. “It's tough
because I'm not an Eagles fan. I'm a huge Giants and Yankees fan, so I get a lot of
flak because I went to college in this area, but it's all in good fun.”
His other passions include being a dad to his 13-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter,
attending sporting events, being a fan of the Star Wars and Marvel franchises, and
trying out new foods or restaurants. “I used to write reviews for Yelp,” he shared.
“I was considered what they call ‘Yelp Elite,’ but the pandemic made it hard to go
out and review restaurants, so they took away my elite status.”
Calliste lives in the Lower Gwynedd section of Montgomery County with his wife and
their two children.
From February 1 to February 29, PCOM joins others around the country in observing
Black History Month. This important celebration honors the histories, cultures and
contributions of those who identify as Black or African American. At PCOM, we recognize
our faculty, students and staff who identify as such and will highlight their stories
throughout the month.
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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
For the past 125 years, 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, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education,
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. The college also offers
graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical
sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling,
physician assistant studies, and school psychology. 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 pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
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