KOKOMO, Ind. — For the second year in a row, Indiana University Kokomo health sciences students won top honors in a statewide health education competition.
Abby Cox, Han Phan, and KCee Richardson, all seniors in the health education and promotion concentration, earned first-place recognition in the Indiana Society for Public Health Education (InSOPHE) case study competition, creating a program to improve maternal health among the state’s Black women.
For Phan, the competition confirmed she is ready to graduate and begin her career as a health educator.
“This proved to me that I have the knowledge I need to stand in front of people and advocate for others, and I know what I am doing,” the Kokomo resident said. “I’m ready to go out into the field.”
Ghadah Alshuwaiyer, assistant professor of health sciences, noted that this is the second year IU Kokomo has sent a team to compete, and they’ve won both years. This time was different, however, as the teams presented via Zoom a week before the virtual conference, rather than at an in-person conference like last year.
“They were excellent representatives of our campus and program,” she said. “They followed the competencies of health education when they developed solutions, they included health care providers in it, and they addressed diversity, equity, and inclusion. It was a well-put-together plan for that issue.
“It’s definitely a proud moment,” Alshuwaiyer added. “I’m so happy we were able to show that IU Kokomo students can compete with bigger schools and bigger campuses, and we can win.”
The students were required to give the 12-minute presentation without notes, slides, or other visual aids to assist them.
“It impacted me to know we can make a difference,” Richardson said. “We can tell other people what is happening, and make people more aware. The need for maternal health care for Black women in Indiana is something I wasn’t fully aware was an issue, and now I know how we can help in our career field.”
The trio planned an app to distribute information about prenatal resources to the women, and planned an advertising campaign to make them aware of its existence. They also advocated for a website with information about how and where to make an appointment with a doctor, and where to get free or low-cost prenatal vitamins.
A focus study revealed a need for implicit bias training for health care providers, so they planned that as well.
Cox said while she was becoming educated on a topic she wasn’t familiar with, she also gained valuable professional skills preparing for the competition.
“It really taught me how to present myself in front of a panel, how to communicate important information without use of visual aids, and how to use my skills to advocate for the health of others,” she said.
The students participated in the conference as part of the IU Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) program. The program’s goal is to provide students chances to connect with people and participate in real-world experiences. The KEY program offers authentic learning experiences for students, starting with a supportive freshman learning community, and including travel, internships, connecting with people who work in their field, researching with faculty, and more.