Seven Pacesetter Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth who wanted to learn and gain experience working with rural and underserved populations recently completed the Texas AHEC East Scholars Program through the Greater Houston Region.
Participants recognized on August 11, 2021, were Symone Bailey, Shaynna Braswell, Isaiah Culpepper, Lance Edwards, Maria Gonzales, Ann Maliackal, and Anna Solcher.
The program consists of community health introductory modules as well as 40 hours of didactic education and 40 hours of community-based, experiential learning. Many of the hours can be satisfied by the nursing school’s curriculum.
Gonzales indicated that she joined this program because she wanted to reach out and help people who live in rural areas.
“I feel that if more people go to those areas, they would not be short of staff and they would have more resources,” Gonzales said. “So, my plan is going back to those areas to help them out.”
Many of AHEC’s Texas regions serve primarily rural areas, but the Greater Houston Region works mostly with underserved and underrepresented communities in urban areas.
Edwards found working in these underserved communities a very valuable experience. “The biggest problem of these communities is how they can keep a roof over their heads or how they can protect their children from crime,” he said. “These are the kinds of struggles they are dealing with every day. Unfortunately, their health care is not their first priorities while they struggle with these kinds of problems.”
Presenting completion certificates and medallions to the honored students were Executive Director of Texas AHEC East Sandra Cooper and Operations Manager Alexander Reyna Jr; Cizik School of Nursing Instructor Noemi A. Peterson, MSN, MPH, RN; and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Erica Yu, PhD, RN.
“AHEC Scholar program is a big value for students, and joining the program is an enrichment to their nursing education,” Cooper said.
Visit www.utmb.edu/ahec to apply for the program and get more details on the application requirements and deadlines. For this year, applications are due September 29.