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High School Senior Considers Public Health Career

High School Senior Considers Public Health Career

Urban Health Diversity Programs Pathway to Health Professions Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) at the UIC School of Public Health

Asha Binbek

Asha Binbek is one of two thousand Chicago Public School (CPS) students enrolled in the Urban Health Diversity Programs Pathway to Health Professions Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) at the UIC School of Public Health.  During the time that Asha has been a participant in the program, her experiences have heightened her career interest in both medicine and public health.  She was one of three high school students to present at the 4th Annual Minority Health in the Midwest Conference in February, where she presented among Master’s and Doctoral students on the health disparities of breast cancer. “I had the privilege to work with Funmi Apantaku-Onayemi and Robin Mitchell on the UIC Beating Breast Cancer Project.   They inspired me to do my poster on breast cancer. I feel like there is a lot that needs to be said about Breast Cancer and the only people that can help are the people that know about it.  I wanted to educate more people on the topic.”

Asha became aware of UIC’s School of Public Health as a result of her membership in the HCOP Public Health Science Club at her high school, Kenwood Academy, on Chicago’s south side.  She participated in the Summer Public Health Science Institute in 2011 where she was able to complete a preceptorship within the SPH Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics involving breast cancer research.   “After spending my summer at the School of Public Health at UIC, I decided I wanted to share everything I learned about public health with my school, as well as my community,” says Asha.   

As the President the public health science club at her high school, Asha and her fellow students are working hard to raise awareness about multiple concerns in their community.  For example, they are currently working on the National Kick Butts Day campaign, a day of awareness to stop tobacco and smoking. The students at Kenwood High School will take a pledge against smoking and it will be posted as a banner in the halls of the school. “It’s really exciting,” Asha says proudly.  Brittney Williams, who is a current SPH student and a former public health science club member from Kenwood Academy, provides leadership for the club at Kenwood.

HCOP is designed to encourage under-represented minorities to pursue academic programs leading to Master’s and Doctoral degrees in public health.   To do this, HCOP introduces its students to public health, what it is, its relevance to society and its career paths.   It also introduces young students to all the areas in which public health professions impact the health and well-being of people in both local and global communities.  HCOP objectives include a middle school public health assembly, a middle school public health curriculum, High School Public Health Science Clubs, Public Health Science Saturday College, Summer Public Health Science Institute and National Public Health Week Commemorations.

The main purpose of the program is to substantially increase the number of African Americans and Latinos who are accepted, enrolled, retained and graduated with Master’s/Doctorate degrees in public health. The program targets the West and South sides of the city of Chicago, which represent 95% of the Health Profession Shortage Areas (HPSA) in the state of Illinois and have a very small number of individuals with Master’s and Doctorate degrees in public health. HCOP has twenty public health partner schools, including Kenwood Academy.  For more information about HCOP, clickhere.

Asha is scheduled to graduate from high school this year and she has been accepted to UIC for the Fall of 2012.  Her dream is to one day be a pediatric surgeon.  “I plan to major in Biology.  UIC is a great school and I can't wait to see what it has in store for me.”   

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