High school students visiting campus

Camp Purpose & History


The Golden Bear Summer Camp was created to foster a positive relationship with our local community amongst diverse populations of students. This includes diversity in race/ethnicity, religious beliefs, political affiliations, gender, and inclusion of students with disabilities. We want to utilize our resources to raise awareness of the various careers represented by the Western New England University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in addition to other careers within the health sciences. The intent is that this commitment will lead to greater diversity within the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the profession of pharmacy.


The Golden Bear Pharmacy Summer Camp was originally coordinated by Dr. Eric Nemec with the assistance of Dr. Kam Capoccia and Dr. Jared Ostroff in 2016. In order to get a larger and more diverse pharmacy learner population in our College of Pharmacy and the general profession of pharmacy, the goal was to generate more interest in this career path in younger students in the Pioneer Valley, with a preference for Springfield residents. By focusing on Springfield area high schools, they would intrinsically be able to recruit diverse students for this program, hopefully increasing the diversity of learners in the College of Pharmacy and our profession. Dr. Arin Whitman, with the assistance of Dr. Shabnam Sani and Kathleen A. Bielecki-Wilken, took over as camp coordinator in 2017. While the camp continued to serve the goals of increasing interest in diverse student populations by focusing on high school students in the Pioneer Valley, Dr. Whitman also sought to expand our perception of diversity in recruitment. Diversity encompasses ethnicity/race, religion, and gender, but also there is great diversity in our individual ideals, political affiliations, socioeconomic status, and more. The idea is not to replace our typical applicant pool in schools/colleges of pharmacy, but enhance it. By focusing on offering a variety of science and clinical practice based hands-on activities at no cost to the learners, including providing lunch daily, our hope is that we create an environment where students realize the profession of pharmacy has something to offer to a wide range of learners and cost should not be a factor when determining who has the opportunity for educational experiences.

With the addition of Occupational Therapy to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the Golden Bear Pharmacy Summer Camp transitioned to be known as the Golden Bear Summer Camp to be inclusive of all health professions. Currently, Dr. Whitman works with the assistance of Dr. Marissa Ostroff, Lori J Berg, Paula D. Geddis, and Kathleen A. Bielecki-Wilken. Dr. Kam Capoccia has also been vital to assisting with obtaining funding for the camp. In 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the camp was offered virtually with great success! Plans for 2022 include the possibility of continuing to offer a virtual camp experience in addition to an in-person camp.

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