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Public Health Showcased in Pre-College Program for Local High Schoolers

Posted Jul. 21, 2014

The College of Public Health is one of three academic units on Kent State’s main campus selected for involvement in the well-regarded, federally funded summer program to promote higher education among first-generation, lower-income high school students, Pre-College/TRiO Upward Bound.  Some 100 students from northeastern Ohio public high schools came to Kent for five weeks June 9-July 11, staying in dorms Sunday nights through Thursday afternoons, for a summer academy or to take post-secondary courses for college credit.  Alongside public health, students are studying the classics or science and mathematics.
Peggy Shaffer-King, director of student services, coordinated the college’s involvement, with students from Lorain, Ravenna and Windham schools.  “The six post-secondary students took Introduction to Global Health, taught by Assistant Professor of Epidemiology Melissa Zullo, and a second course in another department,” Shaffer-King explains.  The 24 summer academy students, “learned what public health is in a very practical sense,” she says.  “We hoped to help them understand that whatever they want to do, there is a place for them in public health,” she adds.
For 90 minutes four days a week for five weeks, college faculty and representatives from local health departments taught the students about public health, covering a variety of topics.  “For instance, I took the kids to the computer lab to learn about public health mobile apps and how to develop them.  They spent learning about healthy food, restaurant safety, environmental health and mosquito control.  We united with the science and math students to learn about organ, eye and tissue donation from LifeBanc,” Shaffer-King says.  “Their days were filled with classes and activities, and they were very engaged,” she says.
The college’s relationship with the students will continue as the school year starts in late August.  “We’ll work with groups at each of the three schools to produce event of their choosing during National Public Health Week next April,” she says.  
The Upward Bound programs seek to increase educational opportunities for first-generation, low-income students and families through comprehensive year-round services in targeted school districts.  The programs also help students overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education.  In addition to the summer programs, services include leadership, academic, career, cultural enrichment and social activities, specialized outreach events and tours and opportunities for employment and mentoring.  The programs and services are at no cost to the participant.