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Students Dedicate Themselves to Nurturing a Fit Community

Students serve food

A group of students in the Health Science Intensive program is trying to leave a mark by educating the community about nutrition and fitness.

Called Community Health and Nutrition Growth Effort – or CHANGE – the group started this semester and is a community outreach initiative. The goal of CHANGE is to educate the residents of Montgomery County about the importance of staying active and educating one’s self about proper nutrition.

The Post-Baccalaureate Health Science Intensive Program – or HSI –is part of the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts & Sciences Advanced Academic Programs; all courses are held on the Montgomery County Campus. Students in the 12-month program take Biochemistry, Cell Biology and Molecular Biology, plus four science electives. In addition to their science classes, students take three non-science courses: Communication for Health Care Professionals; Building and Leading Teams in Healthcare; and the Psychosocial Determinates of Health, Implications on Diagnosis.

The idea behind the program is to give students the opportunity to enroll in rigorous courses in the life sciences to prove their aptitude to study medicine. The hope is that after completing HSI, students will be more attractive medical school candidates. All HSI graduates earn the Master of Science in Biotechnology degree; many are accepted to medical school.

HSI professors and advisers encourage students to serve the community.

CHANGE plans to hold fitness classes, such as dance, yoga, running and weightlifting, as well as nutritional classes and workshops on how to meal plan and read nutrition labels, HSI student Savanna Dasgupta said.

The students launched the club at apartment complex Mallory Square, where many HSI students live. They also held an event at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. They have served nutritious dishes, including cauliflower mashed potatoes and tortillas stuffed with black beans and corn in an attempt to show that healthful meals can taste good too.

Dasgupta, 22, was a Hopkins undergraduate who majored in neuroscience and studied binge eating disorders in children and adolescents. She is considering becoming a pediatric neurologist and is applying to medical school.

Of the CHANGE initiative, which she established, she said: “As a doctor, your objective is to serve your community. This is the first time I started a club from scratch. As a future doctor, I hope to one day start my own clinic. This helps develop leadership, teamwork and communication skills.”

Classmate Ryan Ally, 23, knows that people in the community often look up to physicians. He wants to be a good role model. He is interested in practicing medicine in an under-served community, where education regarding fitness and nutrition may be especially lacking and beneficial, he said.

“They look up to you for guidance, especially regarding your health. This is giving me a basis for my future patients. I can practice with the community here so that in the future I can fulfill that role.”

CHANGE encourages JHU faculty, staff and students to attend their free events. More information can be found on the group’s Facebook page.

CATEGORY: Academics, In The Community