WesternU President Daniel R. Wilson, MD, PhD, left, and Associate Vice Provost Elizabeth Rega, PhD, were presented a $25,000 Walmart Foundation’s Community Giving Grant to support the Pomona Health Career Ladder program at WesternU. Walmart’s Market Health and Wellness Director, Neil Sarreshteh, presented the check Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

The Walmart Foundation contributed $25,000 to Pomona Health Career Ladder (PHCL) during Saturday’s academy, investing in the community and in the future of health care professionals.

A check presentation was held Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016 during the beginning of the “Forensics” PHCL and American Indian Health Career Ladder academy at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, California. It was the second workshop of the academic year.

PHCL brings Pomona Unified School District middle school through high school students and their parents together with WesternU students and faculty to prepare them for careers in the sciences and the health professions. 

Walmart’s Market Health and Wellness Director, Neil Sarreshteh, said she was honored to be representing Walmart Foundation in announcing an investment in the Pomona community.

“I think the greatest gift that we can give our children is an education, and Walmart Foundation is proud to contribute $25,000 to Western University of Health Sciences toward Pomona Health Career Ladder,” Sarreshteh said. “Walmart and Walmart Foundation will help influence a new generation of doctors, pharmacists, optometrists and other health care professionals that are going to one day impact their friends and their neighbors here in the Pomona community.”

While speaking to more than 200 students and their families, Sarreshteh said Walmart has a mission to create opportunities for people to live better, and that the grant and Pomona Health Career Ladder are a big part of that.

On hand for the check presentation were Pomona Unified School District’s Administrative Director of Pupil and Community Resources Fernando Meza, WesternU President Daniel R. Wilson, MD, PhD, WesternU Associate Vice Provost Elizabeth Rega, PhD, PHCL graduate Crystal Sin, PHCL graduate Genesis Hampton, and WesternU College of Pharmacy Director of Diversity Initiatives Mario Jimenez, PharmD.

Bill Burrows, director of development for the College of Pharmacy, and Helen Musharbash, manager of community engagement, took the lead in obtaining the Walmart Foundation funding, which will help fill in the gaps of WesternU’s Pipeline program.

“The Walmart Foundation is contributing to a larger community than just the Pomona Health Career Ladder,” Musharbash said. “With this funding, we will be able to go beyond the monthly academies and expand our efforts into the college level on a more frequent basis. Our program will be able to establish mentorship opportunities and STEM-focused curriculum for our current PHCL students as they go through college, where many of them will be first-generation college students in their families.”

Musharbash said the hope is that PHCL will guide these students through college and become health care professional leaders in their communities.