Online Program

Rust College Health Explorers Program: Engaging High School Students to Increase Public Health Diversity

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

Elizabeth Williams, PhD, Public Health, Health Administration and Health Sciences, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
Charles Williams, PhD, Wilkins-Smith Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice, Rust College, Holly Springs, MS
Irene Walton-Turnage, EdD, Holly Springs School District, Nashville, TN
Mohamed Kanu, PhD, MPH, MA, Health Administration and Health Sciences, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
Wendelyn Inman, PhD, Public Health, Health Administration and Health Sciences, Tennessee State University, Nashville, TN
Jebose Okwumabua, PhD, Health and Sport Sciences, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
Linda Turner, RN, Byhalia Family Health, Byhalia, MS
Debra Butler, MSW, Rust College, Holly Springs, MS
Candyce Grandberry, Rust College, Nashville, TN
Martin Henderson, Rust College, Nashville, TN
Derrick Paige, Rust College, Nashville, TN
Teresa Powers, Rust College, Nashville, TN
Health explorer programs that provide youth opportunities to learn about public health careers, interact with professionals, and engage in health service-learning activities are important to attract underserved students early into public health careers. These programs have proven effective in increasing youths’ knowledge about public health issues; increasing interest in health careers, supporting youths’ entrance and matriculation in 4-year colleges, and positively influencing youths’ long-term pursuit of public health professions. As a result, youth health explorer programs are identified as a viable strategy to increase the pool of future public health professionals from ethnic minority and disadvantaged populations and address the current lack of diversity in Public Health as a discipline.

The Rust College High School Health Explorers Program (HEP) cultivates youths’ interest in public health by offering a college/health career readiness and leadership development program for underserved students in rural Mississippi. HEP introduces students to public health careers & practitioners, offers near-peer mentoring from undergraduate health-related majors & academic counseling and instruction from public health faculty at Rust College, Tennessee State University, University of Memphis and other institutions. Working with school district officials and teachers, HEP makes achieving public health careers a viable goal and provides concrete strategies to help youth succeed.

As a campus-community project engaging high school, undergraduate and graduate students, educators and officials, Public Health researchers and professionals and the community, this project underscores the importance of cultivating youths’ interest in Public Health and how early interventions can effectively support the development of future Public Health leaders.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the need for and benefits derived from increasing diversity in Public Health through high school health explorer programs for underserved youth. Identify particular ways underserved high school students can be supported in pursuing Public Health careers. Assess the utility of engaging multiple constituent groups in supporting underserved youths’ development as future Public Health leaders.

Keyword(s): Youth, Leadership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a co-principal investigator on funded grants providing high school health explorer programs for youth. Among my scientific interests has been the identification of culturally specific strategies to support cancer prevention and projects which support community engagement through Community-based Participatory Research and applied activities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.