College Health Corps Improving, Expanding, and Starting Campus-Community Partnerships To Create Greater Healthcare Assess and Health Literacy for Low-Income and Underserved Minnesota Populations Part Two The Center for Community Work and Learning At St. Catherine University
<ul><li>In 2007, the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) established the school of health, which has a focus on community health and partnerships. Part of the school’s mission is to emphasize “relationship-centered care, socially responsible leadership, and interdisciplinary initiatives.” </li></ul>
The St. Catherine University school of health, now the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, is supported in its community work by the staff of the Center for Community Work and Learning. In 2009, a member of the College Health Corps VISTA Program joined the Center staff in their work with the school of health.
Yui Hashimoto serves as the College Health Corps VISTA at St. Catherine University. Yui graduated in 2009 from Macalester College with a geography major and minors in biology, anthropology, and community global health. She is also interested in higher education, community organizing, and health issues. Given Yui’s interests and academic background, College Health Corps seemed like a natural fit. For Yui, the College Health Corps helps her “understand where my skills can contribute to the world.”
Connecting the school of health with the community requires Yui to assess community needs while helping the school of health to integrate service learning into the curriculum. For Yui, this requires balancing community needs with student learning. “It’s a reciprocal relationship,” said Yui. “It’s deeper than professional advancement.”
For nursing students at the university, service learning provides them with an opportunity to gain experience in their academic field, while at the same time providing consistent service for community needs. For example, students have provided youth nutrition education eye screenings for underserved elementary students. Students have also facilitated workshops and conducted home visits to serve individuals with mental and chemical health needs.
Geography also plays an important role in Yui’s work with the community and St. Catherine’s campuses in St. Paul and Minneapolis. From mapping existing campus-community partnerships, to learning more about the various neighborhoods that the campus works in, Yui is intent on “understanding the spatial context of what people are doing.” The geography of service is especially important for classes like Nursing Care of the Family, which engages 98 of its students at over twenty sites in the Twin Cities.
The VISTA concept of fighting poverty while living in poverty is especially powerful for Yui. “Living at the poverty level has made me more conscious of consumerism. It’s made me more efficient and ‘green’, and it’s helped me be creative,” said Yui. She says that she feels enlightened about access to social services after struggling with public assistance programs such as food stamps.
Joining College Health Corps and St. Catherine University has also helped Yui explore expanding the context of healthcare. “My goal for students is to provide a holistic definition of health,” said Yui, which for Yui includes preventive medicine, health education, safe and healthy housing, access to transit options, and empowering women. So far, Yui has recruited or coordinated over 700 volunteers who volunteered for more than 2,500 hours.
For Yui, it makes sense to mobilize the university’s assets for the community and she cites the connections between low levels of education and indicators of poor health. “Education is important for health,” she says. “Accessing healthcare is about more than just visiting a health clinic. We are interested in how to deepen our relationships and site capacity through more collaborations.”
To Learn More <ul><li>Visit the Center for Community Work & Learning at: </li></ul><ul><li>http://minerva.stkate.edu/offices/administrative/cwl.nsf </li></ul><ul><li>Visit Minnesota Campus Compact at: </li></ul><ul><li>www.mncampuscompact.org </li></ul><ul><li>Look for part three of the </li></ul><ul><li>College Health Corps series at </li></ul><ul><li>www.mncompact.wordpress.com </li></ul>