The HAPI project provides a great avenue for college students to learn about health career choices at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, HAPI would not exist if it were not for the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers Program, abbreviated as NC AHEC. Mrs. Jacqueline Wynn shares with us her role within NC AHEC and how it supports projects like HAPI.
Mrs. Wynn has worked for NC AHEC in various capacities for the past 29 years. She started as a Project Assistant and now serves as the Associate Director for Regional Support. She has also served as the President of the National Association of Medical Minority Educators Incorporated. One of her goals is to improve work force diversity in health careers. It is her passion and mission to expose minority students to opportunities in healthcare; hence increasing diversity among health professionals. About 19 years ago, Mrs. Wynn developed core goals and designed programs that would promote diversity. With current projects like HAPI, she is amazed at the high quality programs and services that arose from her original ideas.
NC AHEC’s goal is to create a continuum of support for students. Most of AHEC’s regional work is done at the pre-college level, providing age appropriate information about various opportunities in the healthcare industry. After submitting a grant, federal AHEC dollars were given to fund programs and activities at the collegiate level. The HAPI project is one of the newly funded programs. With support from Dr. Thomas Bacon, Executive Associate Dean and Program Director of NC AHEC, Mrs. Wynn coordinates with the Health Careers Access Program and UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences to provide college students exposure, experience, and enrichment. This summer, HAPI funded several events including the Skit and Career Speed Dating for Summer Bridge students, as well as the Diversity Recruitment Fair for McNair Scholars and students of the Carolina Advising Corp. The HAPI partners have received warm responses, from students and colleagues, about the effectiveness of HAPI’s activities.
Dr. Bacon plans to retire soon and Mrs. Wynn would like for the new leadership to embrace the work of NC AHEC and its activities. She hopes existing programs and partnerships are sustained and will grow; while possibly allowing new initiatives to arise. The quality of AHEC’s programs impacts the lives of students and influences their career choices. Along with AHEC, the HAPI partners are committed to helping students succeed. The partners lend their expertise to students interested in health professions by advising or directing them to their ultimate goal.
AHEC also provides graduate students and professionals the ability to expand learning beyond the classroom through internships and clinical experiences. When a student is enrolled in a health professions program at UNC-CH, AHEC can also support them by providing housing. In addition, if an individual decides to practice in a rural area, AHEC will support them by bringing continuing education (i.e. AHEC digital library) and opportunities (i.e. one-day clinics) to the area. For more information about AHEC, please visit their website: http://www.ncahec.net/