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Willis Gough volunteers with Union of Pan Asian Communities

Willis is a recently graduated Global Health senior from UCSD. He was a transfer student from San Diego Miramar College and took some time away from school to take care of his father, who was ill. After returning to UC San Diego, Willis changed his major to Global Health.

“It was one of the best decisions I've made, as I feel I have purpose with this major. My future goal is to work with Union of Pan Asian Communities, which is where I did my field experience, and still volunteer as of now.”

Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC) is a non-profit organization here in San Diego, California. Originally, the organization provided health and human services to low income Asian families in San Diego. Over the years, however, UPAC expanded their services to low income communities regardless of one's ethnicity. The areas that UPAC specialize in are mental health, combating drug addiction, homeless outreach, community engagement, and health promotion.

UPAC has many locations throughout San Diego, and each one specializes in their own area of focus. Willis completed his field experience with the Counseling and Treatment Center (CTC) in City Heights. Willis worked to help prepare clients with mental illnesses for their appointments with nurses and therapists.

“My general routine fluctuated, based on the day of the week. On the days that we had clinics, for example, I would check clients in for their appointment times, take their vital signs, notify the nurse or therapist that they arrived, and made sure an interpreter was present if needed. On days that we did not have clinics, I would perform chart reviews to make sure that clients' treatment plans and assessments were up to date. By volunteering at UPAC CTC, I learned about proper care for patients, patient confidentiality and gained proficiency in Microsoft Office.”

Willis notes that although it was challenging to care for his grandmother during the summer he volunteered, his supervisor was always kind and understanding whenever he could not make it to UPAC CTC for the day to help take care of her.

“Another challenge I faced during the Fall 2019 quarter was balancing academics with continuing my FE. Nevertheless, I learned to manage my time, and the staff was always understanding whenever I needed extra time or a day off to finish my assignments or study for midterms and finals.”

Willis mentions the importance of kindness and patience during his time with Union of Pan Asian Communities.

“Helping clients requires time, kindness, and patience. When these principles are applied, client treatments are successful, and both clients and workers of the organization are happy. Furthermore, when you love what you do, working and volunteering is something that you look forward to rather than dread. I was, and am always happy when I go to UPAC CTC to volunteer.”

Willis also notes the sense of community he had at UPAC CTC.

"At UPAC CTC, whether we are employees, interns, or volunteers, we are more than just people who work with each other. We treat each other like family, and quite often, ate lunch together and talked during the lunch hour. That is something that I never expected throughout my FE. I am blessed that this organization allowed me to complete my field experience with them.”

When there were no clients, Willis remembers talking to his colleagues and getting to know one another at UPAC.

“There were other interns and volunteers, and we learned about each other's educational backgrounds, career goals, interests, culture, and what we liked to do for leisure...We also had a UPAC CTC retreat during the summer where we explored Liberty Station and watched movies together.”

After graduating from UCSD with his bachelor's degree, Willis hopes to continue working with UPAC either as a case manager or employment specialist.

“It is an organization that I like volunteering with, and it contributes to my passion working with the Asian American community here in San Diego, as well as helping other underprivileged communities.”

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