Launched in summer 2022, the Community Health Scholars Summer Program offered through the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health provides college credit for local high school and incoming UH college students with backgrounds underrepresented in higher education. The inaugural program was held from June 13 to July 23, 2022, and included nine students from across the state.
Developed by Denise Nelson-Hurwitz and Michelle Tagorda-Kama from the Office of Public Health Studies, the free, six-week program introduced students to the field of public health and enhanced their entry into higher education. Students completed an Introduction to Public Health (PH 201) course and various activities focusing on college preparation, goal planning, team building and leadership skills, cultural awareness and a community building project.
Moanalua High School graduate Erin Manlapit was part of the first cohort of students. Now a freshman at UH Mānoa, Manlapit said she enjoyed meeting new people and learning more about public health. “My experience with the community health scholars program was exciting and I made many memories,” she said. “My favorite part was when we went to the Ka Papa Loʻi O Kānewai because that’s where we bonded the most and had a lot of fun giving back to the campus community.”
Students built self-confidence and expanded their social capital through workshops led by campus faculty, staff and community partners. Upon their successful completion of the program, students earned three college credits that count toward their undergraduate degree.
“We are so excited to more actively bring public health education to our local high school students,” Nelson-Hurwitz said. “We hope this program helps build students’ confidence in their ability to succeed in higher education and beyond while helping to recruit the next generation of local, community-sourced public health professionals.”
The students completed a final project highlighting what they learned about themselves and their community. The program also engaged the students ʻohana beginning with orientation, an ʻOhana Advocacy and Community Communication Training, and ending with a Hōʻike showcase.
“The program allowed students the opportunity to learn about themselves and the health issues impacting their community,” Tagorda-Kama said. “The students also were able to build relationships and have fun in summer learning.”
Summer 2023 recruitment
The Community Health Scholars Summer Program will be held again in summer 2023 and is looking to recruit up to 40 students. Hawaiʻi high school students who are currently sophomores and juniors or incoming UH freshman in the 2023–24 academic year in good academic standing (minimum 2.5 GPA) are encouraged to apply. Preference is given to students from historically underrepresented and underserved backgrounds.