Undergraduates participate in public health education with Mississippi Scholars Program

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a press release from The University of Southern Mississippi.

After two weeks of training, 34 undergraduate students are prepared to better serve the health needs of their community through the Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (Mississippi INBRE) Service Scholars program in partnership with My Brother's Keeper out of Jackson, Miss.

For the next eight weeks, these students will be using what they have learned in training to engage their communities in health education and intervention practices. Students were certified in phlebotomy, HIV testing and counseling and CPR.

The students will be able to use these certifications, along with the knowledge given them during training, to make residents in their communities more aware of the health disparities around them.

“We have been learning mostly about HIV, HIV testing and the prevalence of HIV in Mississippi and other STDs that affect the minorities in Jackson and the surrounding areas,” said Russell Baldwin, senior Cellular and Molecular Biology major at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss.

The students come from 14 different colleges and universities across the state, including, Tougaloo College, Alcorn State University, Hinds Community College, William Carey University, and Jackson State University.

“I decided to do [the program] because I thought it would be a great experience to further my knowledge of the health care field,” said Deborah McNeal, senior biology major at William Carey University. “I really like the fact that we get to help the community because that is something that I want to do in my career, so I like that I get to get a jump start with that.”

In this second year of this program's existence, Antwan Nicholson, training program manager with My Brother's Keeper, Inc., has already seen a great impact it has had on students in the past.

“Out of the 23 students we had last year, I think that at least half of them decided to pursue public health careers as of a result of the program,” said Nicholson. “They all came in as biology majors and those that have graduated since the end of the program last year have chosen to pursue careers in public health.”

Mississippi INBRE, directed by Dr. Mohamed Elasri, a professor at The University of Southern Mississippi, is a statewide program that is supported by an award from the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences. Its mission is to enhance the biomedical foundation in Mississippi and to reach out to Mississippians in order to improve health throughout the state.

Mississippi INBRE seeks to engage talented researchers and students in biomedical research projects that will increase the state's research competitiveness as well as impact the health of citizens of Mississippi.

For more information about Mississippi INBRE, visit: