Award totals $1.3M
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) housed at West Virginia University has helped West Virginia high school students transition into college and explore careers in science and health for nearly two decades. HSTA’s success will continue, thanks to a renewed pledge of funding made possible by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This year HSTA received just over $269,000 of the $1.3 million NIH plans to disburse to the program over the next five years.
“This particular grant, ‘Teaching to Learn’, will help teach the students how to do research,” said Ann Chester, Ph.D., HSTA program director and vice-president for education partnerships at the WVU Health Sciences Center. “Students get to pick a health or science research project they find interesting that is also relevant to their communities. They complete the project and then they teach their findings to their communities – the kids are learning as they’re teaching.“
Through similar grants, NIH has awarded HSTA funding since 1996, helping HSTA encourage rural 9th through 12th graders to pursue higher education. The program not only helps educate underserved populations, but also serves to recruit more scientists and health care providers in West Virginia’s medically underserved communities. HSTA students who complete the program earn tuition waivers for West Virginia state-run colleges. These waivers may be used from undergraduate work through professional school in certain majors.
“We’re connecting them with scientists who help them learn what it is to have a career in health sciences, and in turn, the students are actually helping scientists translate their own research to the community. They’re taking research from the bench right into the house,” Chester said.
Impressively, 92 percent of HSTA students go on to graduate from college, where one in three non-HSTA students discontinues his or her studies in their first year. While still in high school, HSTA students have been shown to have better grades overall, and routinely score better on annual standardized tests.
“In addition, our students are vectors for healthy lifestyles and wellness, right into their families and among their friends,” she continued. “It’s really a two part benefit to the state: one is reaping the talents that might otherwise be lost and nurturing them to give back to the state, and the other is that they give back immediately in increasing health care literacy in their own communities."
HSTA was supported by the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health under award number 1R25OD010495-01.
For more information about HSTA, visit www.wv-hsta.org.
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