Saliha Chaudhry, from the Medical School, and Kevan O’Hanion, BA, from the School of Public Health, worked on the Morris Challenge Project, which aims to promote sustainability, practical solutions, and community cooperation to improve health and quality of life.
Chaudhry and O’Hanion’s project focused on connecting high school students with health professionals in their communities to facilitate mentorship and learning opportunities. They actively engaged with community stakeholders and educators to promote community-based planning and development.
Throughout the project, Chaudhry and O’Hanion worked to assess the needs related to healthcare sustainability in rural areas of Minnesota.
Through interviews with community health leaders, advocates, educators, and professionals, they found that there was a strong desire to bridge the gap between the rural health workforce and high school students. As a result, they developed an intervention to facilitate connections, information sharing, and mentorship between health professionals and high school students, with a particular focus on potential first-generation students and underrepresented minority students.
“We learned about unique challenges and strengths rural communities face in accessing healthcare. Throughout the year, the importance and power of partnerships was very clear–there are a lot of people who want to contribute to solutions. Going through the process of getting to know people, connecting different ideas, goals, and resources, and organizing action highlighted how much more can get done when work is collaborative and community based,” said O’Hanion.
“My most cherished aspect of this experience has been the invaluable collaboration with my IP partner, interprofessional initiative director, fellow intern teammates, and other community partners. Engaging in conversations with them has been a constant source of enlightenment, as I consistently gain new knowledge while also having the opportunity to contribute and participate in teaching-learning moments. Their collective support and engagement have made this journey truly fulfilling and enriched my professional growth,” said Chaudhry.