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Signing ceremony formalizes Elon-Alamance Health Partners program

Four graduating seniors will work with Alamance County health organizations through a new community initiative that encourages students to pursue a year of service following their collegiate studies.

Seated, from left: Elon University Provost Steven House; Stacie R. Turpin Saunders, director of the Alamance County Health Department; and Preston Hammock, president of Alamance Regional Medical Center. Standing, from left: Hannah Allen, Maria Restuccio, Shelby Smith and Catherine Palmer of Elon University's Class of 2015 and the inaugural cohort of partners in the Elon-Alamance Health Partners program.

Four Elon seniors will spend the first year of their professional careers in service to the community through a new partnership program with local organizations dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Alamance County residents.

University and county health leaders took part in a Thursday afternoon signing ceremony for the Elon-Alamance Health Partners program. The four seniors, family members, university professors and staff, and representatives from four Alamance County health organizations attended the program on May 21, 2015, inside the Student Professional Development Center.

Each of the seniors will work with one of four Alamance County agencies: Healthy Alamance, Impact Alamance, the Alamance County Health Department and Alamance Regional Medical Center. Elon University and the four partner agencies are funding the program.

- Hannah Allen (public health studies) partnered with Alamance Regional Medical Center. Allen has worked with the Boys and Girls Club and the Open Door Clinic in Burlington, North Carolina, and she created protocols as a research assistant at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on top of her original research on adolescents with HIV/AIDS. "Having worked on many varied teams, I have found that my greatest asset is seeking harmony in whatever situation my team encounters," she said. "One of the greatest internal values that any team member can have, in my opinion, is respect."

- Catherine Palmer (public health studies) partnered with Healthy Alamance. A Periclean and Presidential scholar who has studied abroad in Morocco, South Africa and Peru, Palmer has worked closer to campus at the Positive Attitude Youth Center as a mentor and math tutor, and at Peacehaven Farm as manager of a community garden and volunteer recruiter. She helped develop a music therapy program at a tuberculosis hospital in South Africa. "I have a profound belief in the human ability to achieve greatness," she said. "I am constantly awed and inspired by the heights of human learning, creativity and innovation, and I firmly believe that every person has the potential for great accomplishment if he or she has the proper support and resources."

- Maria Restuccio (economics) partnered with Impact Alamance. Restuccio has volunteered in recent years as a swim coach for Special Olympics of Alamance County, and she helped to organize a service-learning partnership in Nicaragua and an after-school program for girls in Senegal. "Economics has shown me the importance of fundamental health to community growth, and my volunteerism has shown me the importance of being intentional when working within a community," she said. "Together, they have prepared me for a passion-filled career working in health system development rooted in communtiy understanding and relationship building."

- Shelby Smith (public health studies) partnered with the Alamance County Health Department. Smith is a certified nursing aide in North Carolina, a Periclean Scholar who at Elon has studied rural health in India, and she has also worked at the Open Door Clinic. "I have been able to pursue my strongest passion - human equality - in the highly relevant fields of public health and medicine," she said. "In working within a coalition of strong partners, the values, passions and assets of many individuals can combine to serve one overarching mission, and I hope that I am able to further incorporate my own into the local network in the future."

Provost Steven House addresses the four students taking part in the inaugural cohort of the Elon-Alamance Health Partners program. Seated, from left: Hannah Allen, Maria Restuccio, Shelby Smith and Catherine Palmer of Elon's Class of 2015.

Throughout the yearlong program that begins June 1, the four seniors will learn about community health assessment, strategic planning, program development and implementation, cultural diversity, communication skills and interpersonal leadership. The program covers an annual salary for each fellow, campus housing at Elon, health insurance and a year-end bonus for partners who attend graduate school in North Carolina or accept full-time employment in Alamance or a neighboring county.

The idea of the Elon-Alamance Health Partners program originated last year in conversation between members of the university's School of Health Sciences Advisory Board. It coincided with Elon President Leo M. Lambert's call for Elon students and alumni to consider a "year of service" in line with The Franklin Project, a national initiative that calls for full-year service opportunities for young people to make a difference in their communities.

Thursday’s signing featured Elon University Provost Steven House, Alamance Regional Medical Center President Preston Hammock, and Stacie R. Turpin Saunders, director of the Alamance County Health Department. Also present were Ann Meletzke of Healthy Alamance and Marcy Green of Impact Alamance.

"Elon has this commitment to service," House said at the signing ceremony. "We wanted something to take great students who wanted to give back to the community as global citizens."

Hammock described the new program as an opportunity to create a national model to potentially replicate in communities across the United States.

"Elon has just been an unbelieveable resource," he said. "What tremendous minds are groomed here in global service and citizenship. ... If we could do something that could really make an impact in this community, leveraging different agencies that already exist, and levegaing some of the brightest minds here locally, to me, that's extremely exciting."


The Elon-Alamance Health Partnership committee that created the program and selected the inaugural partners was made up of the following Elon University faculty and Alamance County community members:

Elizabeth Rogers, Elon University (co-chair)
Kathy Colville, Cone Health/ARMC, (co-chair)
Caroline Ketcham, Elon University
Cindy Fair, Elon University
Gabie Smith, Elon University
Deborah Long, Elon University
Liz Bailey, Elon University
Resa Walch, Elon University
Tom Brinkley, Elon University
Sara Shechter, Elon University
Tracey Grayzer, Impact Alamance
Ann Meletzke, Healthy Alamance
Marcy Green, Impact Alamance
Stacie Saunders, Alamance County Health Department


Eric Townsend,
5/21/2015 10:45 AM