For 26-year-old Kevin P., being a PIPs for School (P4S) Scholar is one of the many, many hats he wears. A master’s student at the City College of New York and aspiring medical student, Kevin works in a laboratory to develop novel bioactive molecules for viral or cancer therapeutic solutions. When he’s not nose-deep in school work, he’s working as a pharmacy technician, a tutor, a teacher’s assistant, and a RIVER FUND volunteer.

Where does Kevin get the energy for all of this? It all stems from the joy he gets from person-to-person interaction. “That’s one thing I like about PIPs,” he says, “is that it connects you to the community.” Kevin’s mindset has always been and in all likelihood will continue to be community-oriented, as is evident in his plans for his future as a professional in the medical field. He wants to work to make healthcare more accessible for low-income communities while reducing the barrage of medical waste plaguing hospitals and other medical centers. “It’s just so common that when you’re in the hospital you just see alcohol pads thrown all over the place…you see needles on the floor,” he laments. “I think I would like to get involved in understanding how we can reuse certain things.”

In addition to being an outlet for his exuberant personableness and a helping hand in achieving his master’s degree, the P4S Scholars program has made Kevin more aware of the impact his actions have on the environment around him. “It’s a fact,” he explains, “we just take for granted the environment, and then, only until something happens is when we say…let me take care of this. Let me actually pick up the garbage. Let me drive less, let me recycle more.”

Driving less turned out to be fun. In lieu of driving from place to place, Kevin is now more likely to ride his bike, and he’s not only turned this form of eco-friendly transportation into a habit, but into a hobby. “It’s actually really fun,” he says. “I have just this little backpack that I have my water bottle and my keys and my wallet in and then I just ride around….If I have to go to my family’s house or up to the grocery store or something, or just to any store, I just ride around and I just lock my bike up. And I just go on with my day and it’s really enjoyable.” Riding his bike around, volunteering, and working at the pharmacy are but a handful of the PIPs-worthy actions Kevin took to earn a $1,000 grant to put toward school expenses.

Kevin has not only picked up many eco-healthy habits, he’s also gained deeper insight into the program’s less tangible benefits. “We see it’s such a simple thing…‘Oh, if I do this, I’m going to get money,’ but in the long run it’s about you developing skills and being open to the world, trying to be more aware that there’s problems in the world, and we have the solution. We have the power to change things.”

Profile prepared by Mikayla Zeitlin
Communications & Marketing Manager, PIPs Rewards LLC
May 13, 2022

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