University of Southern California


Working with our neighbors to build a strong community

Let’s dance! (and check your health, too)

By Kukla Vera

April 9, 2013

Local senior citizens and USC School of Pharmacy students put on their dancing shoes on April 6 for the seventh annual “Senior Prom, Health Screening” event held at the St. Barnabas Senior Center in Los Angeles.

Hosted by the USC Skull and Mortar Honorary Service Fraternity, the community outreach event encourages senior citizens to have a little fun while checking up on their health through free health screenings provided by USC pharmacy students.

“Some of our seniors don’t have access to care,” said Andres Gonzalez, coordinator of wellness and longevity at the center. “Also, having it right here in the community makes it very accessible. And the students are second to none.”

About 100 seniors showed up for the screenings, which included tests for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Student pharmacists, under the supervision of pharmacists, conducted the screenings and reviewed the results with the seniors. When asked, the student pharmacists provided a list of area clinics where seniors could go for follow-up care. In addition, they offered health education on topics of particular interest to seniors.

Efigemia Sanchez, 59, dances with second year USC Pharmacy student Kevin Van. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

“Our students are extraordinary at providing a wide range of community services that enhance the lives of our neighbors,” said Dean R. Pete Vanderveen. “The Senior Prom is an example of their dedication and their creativity.”’

Mai-An Pham, co-president of Skull and Mortar, and Carrie Wong, health fair coordinator, organized the event.

Pham noted the uniqueness of the Senior Prom event, particularly when the music starts and the room is “filled with energy and excitement. I asked my dance partner how he learned to dance so well and he simply answered, ‘Easy, you just have to listen.’

“Seniors have so much experience and knowledge — and good advice for health professionals, too,” Pham added.

Skull and Mortar is a service organization at the School of Pharmacy with a full roster of community outreach activities throughout the year. In addition to the Senior Prom, the organization provides medication review sessions for those on Medicare Part D, a Kids Day event for middle schoolers that encourages good grades and good decisions, and various community health fairs. The group also hosts high school students for a two-day event that exposes them to the pharmacy profession as well as other health fields.