Conference probes health disparity challenges

  • Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (April 12, 2011) - Health disparities between racial and ethnic minorities was the focus of a conference Tuesday on the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus.

    The Uniformed Services University for Health Sciences Center for Health Disparities hosted the event - "Reducing Health Disparities through Strengthening and Sustaining Healthy Communities: Stronger Together!" - inconjunction with National Minority Heath Month.

    Health educators, scientists, community and health-policy leaders, health care and public health professionals attended the conference, which included topics such as health care reform and the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act.

    UMES seniors Ashanti Hunter and Richard Warren were among the presenters during the day-long event at the Richard A. Henson Center. They participated in a panel discussion to share their experiences in the 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Program (SURIP).

    The annual internship experience - offered by Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences - provides training for students interested in careers in the biomedical sciences and healthcare fields.

    Hunter, 22, spent the summer of 2010 working within the "African American Health Program" - an organization committed to eliminating health disparities and improving the quality of life for blacks in Montgomery County, Md.

    "The challenge was my motivation," said Hunter, an exercise science major. "We had to conduct research projects and give oral presentations. I didn't have the best weekly progress reports, but that only encouraged me to work harder."

    Warren, 21, currently serves as president of the exercise science club at UMES. He said the internship reinforced his decision to eventually work at a public health facility, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Hunter and Warren both plan to attend graduate school after they receive their UMES diplomas in May.

    Dr. James E. Heimdal, chairman of UMES' Department of Exercise Science, plays a role in recruiting students for the internships. He says more UMES students sent in their applications this month.

    "It's an opportunity for students to expand their horizons," said Heimdal. "These students are our future leaders."

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    Candice Latshaw, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-6669, celatshaw@umes.edu

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