Our Club

The Pre-Physician Assistant Student Organization is a non-profit student organization and we are committed to educating students about the physician assistant profession.

PPASO collaborates with physician assistants, medical professionals, UC San Diego faculty, and alumni to provide our members with the best means to reach their goals of becoming physician assistants. We provide our members with invaluable PA admission and application advice and unique health care experience opportunities.

PPASO is one of the very few pre-physician assistant organizations in Southern California and we welcome anyone who is interested in the PA profession.

What is a PA?

Physician assistants are medical professionals who are formally trained to prescribe medication, perform or assist in surgeries, diagnose, examine and treat patients, order tests, interpret lab work and follow up with patients.

They are not to be confused with medical assistants, as medical assistants perform routine clinical tasks and do not diagnose or prescribe. PAs are technically under physician supervision, but many, if not all PAs work autonomously and the attending physician delegates their work.

How do I become a PA?

There are over 164 accredited PA programs in the United States. Most programs are 2-3 years long. Many, but not all, programs require a minimum number of hours of direct patient care. These prerequisite hours range from 0 to 5,000 hours, depending on the program.

After graduating from a PA program, all prospective PAs need to also pass the initial certifying exam, Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE). PANCE is a computer-based multiple-choice exam that tests for knowledge in subjects such as biochemistry, behavioral science, circulation, diabetes, gastrointestinal, and gross anatomy. Upon completion of an accredited program and passing PANCE, physician assistants will be hired by physicians and be specifically trained by the physician to perform more specialized work.


Kevin Tran - Co-President

Hello! I’m a fourth year Biochemistry and Cell Biology major from Thurgood Marshall College. Go Marshall! I have volunteered at Thornton Hospital and Perlman Rehabilitation, working closely with physical and occupational therapists. In addition, I am also a licensed EMT, Emergency Medical Technician. Having a strong mental and physical fitness is one of the important characteristics of my life. One of my passion lies with the UC San Diego Dragon Boat Team as a previous paddler and current Head Water Coach. It brings it great pleasure to help others find their future career paths, especially those who are interest in the Physician Assistant profession. Feel free to message me anytime to have a conversation, doing it over food is the best!

Casey Fulinara - Co-President

Hiii! I'm a fourth year Human Biology major and Psychology minor from Muir College! I've been part of PPASO for the past three years and served as your Secretary last year. I'm currently working as a Physical Therapy Aide in Del Mar and a Pathmaker Intern. I've also previously volunteered as a Research Associate at Thorton Hospital. My favorite things include the holiday season, marble, and french toast. PPASO has served as an incredible resource and helped me decide that I wanted to be PA. There is an incredible support system here and it is very motivating to be around like-minded people. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or just want to chat!

Anastasiya Kosina - Public Relations

Hello! I am a third year from Eleanor Roosevelt College studying Public Health. As a member of this organization since my freshman year at UCSD, I am excited to see members collaborate and help PPASO grow and develop. I currently partake in assisting research at UCSD’s Moores Cancer Center with a focus of promoting health behavior change in cancer survivors. I’ve also recently graduated from the COPE Health Scholars Program and intend to continue gaining hands-on patient care experience with the Pathmaker Internship. Aside from studying, I enjoy staying active and being outdoors, visiting family in LA, and catching up with friends. This organization continues to provide a variety of resources, and has always provided me the joy of being surrounded by inspiring hard working students who are on the same career path. Feel free to message me about any questions or even grab a coffee to talk!

Ryan Ahlquist - Community Service

My name is Ryan Ahlquist and I am a fourth year General Biology major from Revelle College. During my first year here at UCSD, I have volunteered at UCSD Thornton Hospital at the Bone Marrow Transplant/ Oncology wing. Currently on campus I am involved with Greek life and am a proud member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Over the past 2 years I have been certified as an Emergency Medical Technician, and working for a private ambulance company in San Diego to gain clinical hours. If you have any questions about the process of becoming an EMT, or the job itself in San Diego, feel free to ask!! Ever since moving here from the East Coast, I have enjoyed pursuing many active hobbies such as surfing and hiking. From my first year at UCSD, PPASO and its members have been by far the greatest help for setting me on the right path to becoming a PA. Being able to be play a large part in this club’s community service aspect is one of the most important parts of any club. This also relates very well attributes of a PA treating patients and helping their community. If you have any questions about anything or just want to hang out/ paddle out, feel free to reach out to me!!

Ashley Sheng - Social Coordinator

Hi all! My name's Ashley; I'm a second year, majoring in General Bio, minoring in Healthcare Social Issues, sorted into Warren College(: Besides my involvement with PPASO, I'm also a principal member of Musicians for Community Service. When I'm not studying or hanging out with friends, you can probably find me playing flute at the VA Center. I'm also very excited to be working with Palomar Health as a Pathmaker intern this year! I love to draw, paint, read, and discover new places to eat, so if you ever want to explore San Diego, feel free to contact me anytime!

Stanley Liu - Treasurer

Hi guys! My name is Stanley and I'll be an incoming third year this year studying Biochemistry/Cell Biology from ERC. I've been a pathmaker intern for about a year now and will be starting to intern in an immunology lab at the Scripps Research Institute. Outside of classes I enjoy playing videogames, cooking and exercising. If you ever see me around campus, don't hesitate to say hello. Feel free to message me if you ever have any questions. I look forward to meeting everyone this year!

Hannah Lee - Publicity

Hi everyone! My name is Hannah and I’m a fourth year Human Biology major/Business minor from Sixth College. I’ve been working as a Pathmaker Intern with Palomar Health Care at Pomerado Hospital for about 2 years - currently in the Wound Center Clinic, but moving onto the Birth Center next! I also work at the Cellular and Molecular Medicine Business Office in the School of Medicine on campus. On the side, I am a private tutor for a student with learning disabilities. I love dogs, photography, food adventures, live music, and good company! Let me know if you ever want to hang out and explore San Diego!

Katharine Ishida - Membership Development

Hi! My name is Katharine, and I'm a fourth year studying Physiology and Neuroscience. My first two years of undergrad I was involved as a research assistant in cardiovascular diabetes, but I found my true passion for working with people in healthcare as a Student Health Advocate at UCSD. I am currently the Sexual Health Lead Coordinator at Student Health Services, where we educate other students about health issues and concerns through educational workshops, events, and campaigns. I also currently work as a Physiotherapist, where we provide rehabilitation and various treatments for patients going through injuries. I love going out to explore new cafes to study in, so let's go out and grab a coffee together!

Drew Lakey - Secretary

Hi everyone, I'm a fourth year Human Biology major and psychology minor. I've been a member of PPASO since my sophomore year and am very excited to be a part of helping the organization grow. For the past two years I have been volunteering with the UCSD Health System. I have volunteered in the Imaging Department, as well as the ER and this year I will be in the Rehabilitation Department. I am also a Pathmaker Intern and have served in various departments there. Outside of classes, I like to read, go on hikes, and spend time with my family in LA. If you have any questions feel free to e-mail me!