Early Returns (Philanthropy Edition)

Early Returns (Philanthropy Edition)

‘If you believe in something, you support it with what you have.’ That’s the take of two recent graduates who are now pursuing healthcare degrees and who make it a priority to give back to Pacific University.

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Kristen Mathis ’09 and Kihei Castillo ’09 are both givers by nature. 

Drawn to Pacific University as undergraduates with dreams of healthcare careers, the young women both pursued helping professions. 

Mathis, who came to Pacific from Alabama to swim, majored in exercise science. Castillo, from Hawai‘i, majored in biology. 

They both worked as certified nursing assistants at Marquis Care in Forest Grove, and they are both pursuing further experience through the master’s of healthcare administration and healthcare compliance certificate programs at Pacific.

They are both passionate about helping people, about making healthcare more accessible and comprehensive for elderly patients, and for advocating for patient rights.

But that’s not the only way they believe in giving back.

Both young women also began giving, financially, to Pacific University before they even completed their undergraduate degrees.

“I definitely believe you should pay it forward,” said Castillo, who chose Pacific in part because of the financial aid package she received. “A lot of students at Pacific got scholarships.”

As students, they both worked for Phonathon, the program where students call alumni and friends of the university to talk about Pacific and ultimately encourage gifts to the school. It started out as a way to make some extra money between classes, labs and other commitments, but it was an enlightening experience, Mathis said.

“I would hear people talk about how great things were back in the day, and I wanted our class to say that,” she said. “I wanted people to have what I had.”

Finding money isn’t always easy. After all, both women are paying for grad school right now, working when they can and splitting expenses as roommates.

But, they said, it doesn’t take much to help.

“Even a small amount really helps,” Mathis said. 

“If you don’t buy a cup of coffee for a day, there’s $5,” Castillo said. “If you believe in something, you support it with what you have, whether it’s time or money.

“I like what Pacific gave me and what it stands for.”