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February 13, 2013 - High School Students Explore Health Care Careers Through USA’s S.T.A.R.S. and S.T.R.I.P.E.S. Programs
Students (above) participate in the S.T.A.R.S. enrichment program in 2010. The program's ultimate goal is to increase the number of minority students who graduate from college in the sciences and assist them in becoming health care providers who will address minority health disparities through culturally appropriate health care and research.

The University of South Alabama's Center for Healthy Communities is gearing up for the 2013 Education Pipe-Link programs that begin in the summer.

The S.T.A.R.S. (Student Training for Academic Reinforcement in the Sciences) and S.T.R.I.P.E.S. (Special Training to Raise Interest and Prepare for Entry into the Sciences) program’s purpose is to improve their knowledge and academic development, reinforce their scientific and mathematical knowledge base, and ultimately prepare them for entry into a health care field.

Mary C. Williams, health education specialist and pipe-link coordinator, said that S.T.A.R.S. is an enrichment program for rising juniors in high school who perform well in science and mathematics. After a referral from their guidance counselor, science and math faculty, or principal, prospective students are interviewed for possible entry into the program. They will enter the summer following their high school sophomore year for a four-week academic immersion session in which they will attend advanced core classes in math, English, science, study skills, communication skills and complementary enrichment activities.

“We want to strengthen their knowledge and academic development to facilitate successful high school graduation and college entry,” Williams said. “Therefore, they are also required to attend tutoring sessions during the academic year and participate in community health advocacy and volunteer services.”

If they are successful, S.T.A.R.S. will earn promotion into the S.T.R.I.P.E.S program the following summer, and they will "Earn their STRIPES” through community activities and health advocacy. This is a six-week internship program to reinforce their knowledge base and prepare them for college entry. The program aims for students to become science majors in preparation for research and health care providers who will address minority health disparities through culturally appropriate means.

“I think these programs are important because the students we target are grossly underrepresented in the field of medical sciences,” Williams said. “Through S.T.A.R.S. and S.T.R.I.P.E.S., they are exposed to a rigorous training schedule and have the opportunity to decide if this is something they really want to do for a career.”

The pipeline program is currently focused on four high schools in the Mobile area; Mattie T. Blount, John L. LeFlore, C. F. Vigor, and Lillie B. Williamson.

Dr. Hattie Myles, community outreach core co-director, said the guidance counselors at these schools are asked to identify the students who have indicated career goals in the health care professions or medical sciences fields. The students must have at least a 3.0 grade point average to be considered for the program along with other qualifications, and must undergo an interview.

"We have streamlined the application process and made it available for completion online,” said Dr. Myles. “We believe that this will speed up the process and increase the number of interested and qualified applicants. Also, we had a very well-attended education and information meeting with parents and school officials from the targeted high schools and that too, we feel, will have a positive impact on the applicant pool.”

According to Dr. Myles, the program has inspired students to go to college who otherwise may not have. The programs also provide time for scholarship searches and completing admission and financial aid applications so the participants will have the opportunity to get answers for all of their questions.

“The pipeline has been in operation long enough for a number of our students to enter college and graduate, with more graduating in May,” she said. “Although there have been some challenges in getting the program to the level of operation that we have envisioned, we are optimistic that we are making an impact on the number of students considering careers in the health professions as our pipeline continues to progress.”

For more information visit the Education Pipe-Link Website:

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