Sophomore, Public relations major
Inspiration, collaboration and transformation are the watchwords of health science students. These words guide them as they pursue their majors and these words are what the students chose to name the fourth annual Community Health Summit at the University of Florida.
Florida Gymnasium was transformed in a discussion environment with 15 speakers annd more than 100 students Thursday evening who came for a three-hour gathering organized by UF’s Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) and Health and Education through Research, Outreach, Empowerment and Service (HEROES) clubs.
“Our main goal was to promote networking between the students and get them involved in the health in the community,” said Leah Charitat, a 21-year-old health science major and the event’s chair. “I wanted to make it more interactive this year. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves a lot, the speakers and the students, which makes me super excited.”
Two keynote speakers, Jacob Atem, a first-year PhD student of environmental and global health, and Radha Selvester, the Community outreach/safe place specialist for CDS Family and behavioral health sciences, gave inspirational and encouraging speeches and shared with the students their highs and lows of their respective journeys.
“Whatever bad thing happens to you it is actually a blessing in some way or another,” Selvester said. “And the sooner you learn that, the sooner you can get through the tough time. Remember that collaboration means doing whatever needs to be done for the joint mission.”
Atem is one of Sudan’s Lost Boys — one of thousands of orphaned boys escaping civil strife in South Sudan during the 1990s. In the conflict that lasted until 2005, more than 2.5 million people died. Atem got his masters in public health from Michigan State University and is now giving back to his home country by providing healthcare facilities, education and supplies.
“It was really fantastic tonight,” Atem said. “This was a good time for all of us to network, especially for students in the health sciences. I hope it inspired more students to go into health field.”
The professors and health science professionals switched in round table discussions. Students were able to introduce themselves and say why they chose health majors. Most of them agreed that they want to help people and make changes in their communities.
“Getting to interact one on one with professors and ask them direct questions was the most useful for me,” said Olivia Donnelly, a health science junior. “I was able to learn how they (health science professionals) fell into their careers. I am hoping to go to medical school after my senior year.”
Charitat said that pre-health students are often exposed to pressure of getting involved with clubs and organizations in order to get into their health school.
“There are options and student should know that,” Charitat said. “They can just come to events like this and feel that they have made connections that will get them somewhere in the future.”
For more information about HOSA and HEROES, join their Facebook groups and follow the upcoming events.