Two dozen freshly minted public health workers, catalysts for achievement Hawaii underserved communities were recipients of a US$50,000 grant from the Royal Health System for Native Hawaiians. These funds were used to establish a Public Health Scholarship, which was awarded to 24 students in Kapiolani community college Community Health Worker (CHW) program.
These students have recently graduated CHW program with a certificate of competence. They received financial support for the 2021 academic year at a time when the costs associated with attendance were much more than tuition fees alone. Funding has been used to access technology devices, childcare, and safe and adequate housing, allowing students to focus on learning while instilling confidence in their coursework.
“Queen’s Health System Native Hawaiian Program, Public Health Scholarship at Kapiolani Community College has been an important support mechanism for students who want to improve their own circumstances, those of their families and their communities,” he said. Joey Dewater, CHW program coordinator.
CHW the program prepares students to work as patient advocates by connecting underprivileged populations with public health resources. As trusted members of the community and valued members of the health or social services team, community health workers provide health education, advocacy, research, and leadership to help others act and contribute to a healthy society.
More public health workers needed
CHW the program was created in Kapiolani CC in 2017, but was reactivated thanks to Hawaii State Department of Health-EM-M-M Contact tracing training program grant in 2020. Since its inception, a total of 189 students have graduated from the program, over 30 are currently enrolled, and the program is recruiting for future cohorts.
Devwater said the program supports students across the state with a focus on recruiting from communities that are often underrepresented in health and social services and where there is a strong need for more proactive intervention. These people in underserved communities often face multiple barriers to college admissions, and many of them struggle to get a good post-secondary education or a meaningful career because of their socioeconomic status.
Preference is given to native Hawaiians.
Recognizing the importance of recruiting and educating individuals with appropriate linguistic, cultural, and community knowledge, the Public Health Scholarship favored Native Hawaiian students, trusted members of Native Hawaiian communities, and individuals whose work will support Native Hawaiians and the community. health. Of the 24 graduates who received the scholarship, there were eight Native Hawaiian students, nine students with multiple language skills, eight single parents, a former incarcerated student, and a former Waipahu High School student who began the program in high school.
Nine work in positions specifically designed for Native Hawaiian communities, and 19 work with other vulnerable communities through volunteering or employment with local health services or organizations.
Schoolchildren fill out certificates
The Queen’s gift to the Native Hawaiian Health Program also enabled CHW a program offering courses to 18 students at Waipahu High School covering two semesters. Of these 18 high school students, three requested a loan transfer to Kapiolani CC and were awarded the full 16 college credits required to earn CHW competence certificate.
May 2022 CHW the first cohort of the program to complete the entire certificate program while still in high school, graduating Kapiolani CCStart. The program continues to attract the attention of students for whom English is a second language, students of first generation colleges and many others.
Photo caption: Kapiolani CCThe 2022 graduates were among the first cohort to complete a public health certification program while still in high school.