School Chapter Spotlight Series: PCOM Rise Philly (Part 1)
Updated: May 30
RISE Philadelphia is proud to partner with students from five medical schools across the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas to provide tutoring, mentoring, and other services to students in K-12 schools in these regions. Each school has an executive board (E-Board) that oversees their chapter’s activities, such as recruiting and managing their group of tutors, organizing and engaging in other community outreach events and programs with local K-12 schools, advocacy work, paternering with other community organizations, and more!
The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (PCOM) RISE Philly chapter recently transitioned to a new E-Board. We sat down with members of both the outgoing and incoming E-Boards to look back at the work they’ve done in the past year and towards what’s coming up in the future.
In part one of this two-part interview series, we spoke to the former President of PCOM’s outgoing E-Board from the 2022-23 school year, Cara Molulon. Cara is currently a second-year osteopathic medical student at PCOM. Although she is no longer in her President role, Cara will be continuing her work with RISE Philly in her new role as the lead of one of RISE Philly’s newest committees, the curriculum committee.
Part 1: PCOM’s RISE Philly Outgoing E-Board
How did you hear about RISE Philly?
Cara: I first heard about RISE Philly while completing my post-[baccalaureate]. I began working with the organization as a tutor and eventually took on the role of chapter president for the PCOM E-Board. I also serve as part of the Curriculum Committee.
What made you want to get involved with RISE Philly?
Cara: Before entering medical school, I served as a fourth-grade teacher with the Alliance for Catholic Education.
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic during my second year of teaching and I saw, first-hand, how the health crisis exacerbated so many of the disparities that existed within the educational system well before the start of the pandemic. When offered the opportunity to continue supporting students whose curriculum had moved online, I knew I wanted to get involved.
What were your responsibilities in your E-Board role?
Cara: While serving as the PCOM chapter president for the 2022-2023 academic year, I was responsible for supporting the work of our active tutors and ensuring their tutoring sessions were running smoothly. This involved training new tutors in the onboarding process and helping them troubleshoot issues that might arise with their tutees, such as no-shows or difficulty conveying certain learning material.
To foster this connection between tutors, students, parents, and schools, I met regularly with members of my E-board, other chapter presidents, and the CEO/COO/CTO. We attended parent-teacher conferences and other events at our partner school, Chester A. Arthur, to advertise tutoring services and establish stronger connections with members of the school community.
Do you have any special moments during your involvement with RISE Philly that you’d like to share?
Cara: One of my favorite moments was helping to facilitate [Chester A.] Arthur’s Math Festival last May. We played a variety of math games with the students and spoke with their parents about our work in RISE. Since so much of the volunteering we do has been virtual, it was wonderful to be in-person and build greater rapport with our partner school.
What did you do/accomplish with RISE Philly this past year?
Cara: After meeting with several tutors asking for more support in their tutoring sessions, I worked with Rachael Molitor at PCOM to create the RISE Philly Curriculum Committee. Our goal is to equip tutors with evidence-based skills and resources to understand their tutees’ needs and meet them accordingly. We began by distributing an assessment to the tutors to gauge their tutor pair needs and surveyed their interest in utilizing various resources such as DIBELS, Khan Academy, and IXL.
Using their feedback, we have worked with Erika Foerst, a member of RISE’s Fundraising Committee, to request grant funding to purchase IXL accounts for students in greatest need of remediation and process monitoring. We have also created training videos for all of our tutors to learn how to benchmark students and use the subsequent data to lesson plan for their tutoring sessions. Additionally, we offer one-on-one academic consulting for tutors and are looking to improve our communication regarding student progress monitoring by working even more closely with teachers and parents.
Recently, Haley Raphael, a fellow former classroom teacher, joined our team to offer her leadership and expertise. I look forward to supporting her as she takes on this role and am excited to see what our students accomplish in the coming months.
What advice would you give to the new PCOM E-Board president?
Cara: In my experience, the PCOM chapter president should embrace the mission of RISE and possess the skills necessary to coordinate between multiple networks of individuals, troubleshoot logistical issues/tutoring issues/etc., delegate action items, and create systems of checks and balances to ensure the chapter is running smoothly for everyone involved. Being able to take a bird’s eye view of a situation to identify particular goals while also paying attention to the details necessary to reach those goals is key. I am proud to see that Neha Bhardwaj, the new PCOM chapter president, models this mission.
My advice is to keep up the hard work and never be afraid to ask for help. RISE Philly has grown into a network of many fantastic people, and we can learn a great deal from one another.
On behalf of the whole RISE Philly team, we are so grateful to Cara and her team for their hard work and dedication this past year! We are so glad to have Cara continuing her amazing work with us, and we look forward to what’s next!
Coming soon: part two of our interview series with PCOM’s RISE Philly E-Board, where we will be speaking to members of the new E-board!
Author: Nha-Thi Luu, second year Master's in Biomedical Sciences student at PCOM