PCP Students Engage Classmates, Faculty in Diversity Discussions

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on June 22, 2021

LucyIn an effort to encourage their classmates to speak more openly about diversity, equity and inclusion opportunities at USciences, Jordan Davidson PhB’22 and Luzdary (Lucy) Illesca PhB’22, students in the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business Program at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, organized a series of events. 

The idea was sparked on MLK Day of Service 2021 when the PCP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force asked students to pitch their ideas to improve diversity and inclusion efforts. The Task Force selected Davidson and Illesca and put $500 to support their idea. The funding was made available through a grant from Walgreens to support diversity efforts. The amount was then matched by the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council. 

“Lucy and I were the first two pharmaceutical business students in our classes together, and being that we were the only two that weren’t white, we understood each other a bit more,” said Davidson. “We wanted to see what we can do and how we could share our perspective with others.”

The students hosted four sessions -- three for students only and one for faculty. They used the funding they received to offer gift card incentives for student participation and also engaged Kathleen Walls, PsyD, to facilitate the sessions. 

“I know how hard it can be to speak up, but I’m self driven to the point where  I want to make a change and an impact on our community,” said Illesca. “I learned so much from students and how it is hard for them to voice what they want in fear of backlash. Me and Jordan were able to gather ideas and thoughts that we can voice because we want to be able to speak for the student body.”

Jordan Davidson said he hopes to continue with these sessions in the future and have more community involvement. Illesca said she hopes that the entire USciences community sees the value in having these conversations, even though they can be uncomfortable -- because they are so important. 

“I wanted to push towards feeling equality while being in different skins. Being a female Latina can be difficult in a field that doesn't have a lot of diversity,” she said. “I felt that we should be able to discuss racial factors and why some genders and ethnicities aren’t as common in the field and find ways to change that.”

Davidson said he knows these issues will continue to be part of the conversation as he moves into a medical affairs internship at Merck and after he graduates, so it is important to him to learn how to facilitate these conversations now. 

“It was a learning process to get the most of our students,” he said. “We make a lot of assumptions when we meet people. We have to do our best to understand what the best course of action is. Having open conversations and dialogue will help to open the relationship between students and faculty.”

Categories: News, Students, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Business,