Student health ambassadors
Student health ambassadors (SHAs) are full-time students who attend one of the participating Historically Black Colleges or Universities associated with the HBCU Wellness Project. SHAs are exposed to service learning instruction that enables them to work with local health and social service agencies and also serve as community representatives. In this role, SHAs can positively impact the health and well-being of underserved community residents in culturally sensitive and culturally relevant ways.
SHA Key Roles
- SHAs are health promotion and disease prevention advocates.
- SHAs are change agents who work with community partners and residents.
- SHAs are trained to investigate key community health issues through extensive study.
The SHAs take pride in being able to touch the community through their research of disparities plaguing minority communities. As health promotion and disease prevention advocates, they disseminate health information on topics considered health priorities for communities of color using methods shown to be effective in targeted communities. In the course of conducting their research, the SHAs participate in community and campus events to further increase their knowledge both of their chosen research and of their local communities. This access to the community enables them to acquaint citizens with our community partners, who are usually local nonprofit organizations focused on particular disparities in the minority community.
The community partner helps the SHA identify underlying causes of health inequalities in communities of color. The collaboration is a two-way partnership: the community partner benefits from an outsider's perspective on its resources, and the student gains from the partner's insights on his/her research. Together they have the goal of increasing positive health behaviors in communities; empowering residents through education, information, and skill development; and building activities that will lead to long-term solutions for social and environmental contributors to disease.