Bakersfield College (BC) announced it has received a $56,000 grant from Bank of America to help launch a new pilot project for students in BC’s Early College Public Health Program. The project has been developed in partnership with The Centric Foundation and is focused on addressing health related issues and career pathways in communities of need. Starting in ninth grade, students enter this four-year program with curriculum addressing issues such as obesity, heart disease and heart health, leading them on a path towards earning an Associate’s Degree in Transfer in Public Health by the time they graduate high school.
The global pandemic has created a surge in demand for educated, trained and qualified health professionals. Students in BC’s program also have the unique opportunity to volunteer and intern in various community and entry level public health positions, preparing them for a future in a wide range of medical fields. These careers may include health education, health navigator, health policy, health administration, biostatistics, epidemiologist, environmental health sciences, and more. In addition, nearly 74% of Kern County adults are either overweight or obese, making the need for public health education a rapidly growing and highly needed field.
“BC’s Public Health Renegades are not only earning a strong foundation in public health, but also community service. By engaging in this program, they’re focusing on global issues at a community level through robust learning opportunities and they’re seeing the positive impact on those they love. These Renegades will transform Kern County with their education, experiences, and commitment to a healthier future for our community,” said Bakersfield College President, Dr. Sonya Christian. “I’m so grateful that Bakersfield College was selected by Bank of America as this program and these efforts seamlessly align with Bank of America’s focus to improve the lives of individuals and families and strengthen communities,” added Dr. Christian.
The grant from Bank of America will be used to provide textbooks and materials to students in the program, as well as laptops and hot spots to students who would not otherwise have access to online learning materials and resources.
“Now more than ever, we see the need for qualified individuals to fill the empty seats in these career fields. The needs are rising and it’s not only due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Communities locally and across the nation will benefit from this upcoming public health-conscious generation,” said local Cardiology physician, Dr. Jeet Singh. “It’s a unique and challenging time, but also very exciting and we’re so grateful to see support come in from partners like Bank of America and Centric Health. Their contributions to the program and our future leaders are what will make our communities stronger and healthier as we go forward.”
The Centric Foundation partnered with Bakersfield College to lead a pilot program focused on addressing health related issues in communities of need. Together they developed a curriculum to address obesity, heart disease, and heart health in which students reach out to their own network, thereby empowering the students to be public health navigators. Centric Foundation Chair, David Torres is pleased with the enthusiasm and results so far. Torres says, “We’re seeing a direct positive impact with these students. They take what they’ve learned, share it with their parents, and many have reported back that their families are making active lifestyle changes, improving eating habits, increasing exercise habits, and even rippling the positive impact out to extended family members, or those outside of the immediate household.”
“Bank of America invests in opportunities for career development that is not only sustainable but that also positively impacts entire communities, so this new program from Bakersfield College and Centric Health is a great demonstration of this focus, especially as demand has increased for more health care professionals during this prolonged pandemic,” said Karen Zuber, Bank of America market manager.