From Stephanie Brown
The American Heart Association
The American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, is awarding financial scholarships to six students who are working to improve the health and well-being of their community or college campus.
According to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic, 40 percent of an individual’s health can be attributed to socioeconomic factors, 30 percent to healthy behaviors, 20 percent to medical care and 10 percent to the environment. That’s why the Association collaborates with organizations, businesses, entrepreneurs, and now youth, to create and identify solutions to our communities’ most complex social issues, ultimately impacting and improving health outcomes.
Through the EmPOWERED To Serve Scholars competition, which launched in January in recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the National Day of Service, the Association sought high school seniors and undergraduate college and university students who are actively striving to identify solutions to address the social determinants of health — the economic and social conditions in which people are born, grow, work and live — and how they impact risks for heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
From a high school senior who provides nutrition education to local youth to a future family nurse practitioner who conducts community-organized wellness checks, the six students who will receive $1,500 scholarships include:
* Ahmed Arasah aspires to become a physician and promote healthy living through community yoga instruction and will offer sessions to his classmates at Xavier University in New Orleans this spring.
* Michelle Ballasiotes is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studying pre-health policy and management and advocates for corner grocery store owners to sell fresh, healthy foods.
* Jose Trinidad Muratella studies biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and spends his volunteer time at the Community Health Clinic teaching diabetes education courses.
* Avery Nelson, a freshman studying public policy at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., helped launch an urban garden where families living in food deserts can harvest fresh fruit.
* Esmeralda Ochoa has her sights set on a family nurse practitioner career, and in between her studies at Chamberlain University in Addison, Ill., partners with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses to coordinate and conduct community wellness checks.
* Dorysel Sandoval, a senior at Sweetwater High School in National City, Calif., who interns and volunteers at a local nonprofit teaching youth in the community about urban agriculture and nutrition education.
The scholarship competition is part of the Association’s Take Me Home video docuseries campaign, which leverages the collective stories of our ambassadors, alliances and communities as catalysts to rally, inspire and springboard improved health outcomes. A judging panel, comprised of nationwide thought-leaders and experts who focus on addressing and closing the health disparity gap, selected the scholarship recipients based on Facebook video submissions where students described:
* What health equity means to them,
* Something they have done in the past 18 months to positively affect the health of someone they love, and
* How they have made a sustainable, positive impact in their community or on their campus to address health and well-being disparities.
In addition to receiving the scholarship, students will have an opportunity to serve as EmPOWERED To Serve ambassadors and participate in 2018 social media campaigns.
To view the students’ winning video submissions and learn more about these future change-agents, as well as EmPOWERED To Serve, visit www.empoweredtoserve.org.