New Public Health Program Abroad Supports HBCU Students’ Global Marketplace Success

by LP Green, II

The North Carolina Study Abroad/Global Engagement (SAGE) Partnership, a collaborative among that state’s 11 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in 2014 will boost the percentage of global, marketplace-ready students.

Working with IES Abroad and IERC Education Foundation for nearly a year, NC SAGE Partnership is introducing a slate of international courses that will integrate the health studies learning objectives of its members.

“Public Health in Jamaica” is designed to deliver clear educational outcomes. The four-week, five-credit program will be held at the University of the West Indies-MONA in Kingston from May 29th to June 26th, 2014. Students must apply online by February 18. The program fee of $6,125 includes tuition, housing, and other amenities, and is PLUS loan-eligible.

Boosting study abroad participation among African Americans and first-generation college students in general has always been a challenge.

“When you look at what employers want and the alarming graduate unemployment rate, something has to be done, now. What makes this (program) different is it will be a resume-builder too; delivering student-learning as well as leveraging those unique academic, study abroad, outcomes benefits” said Steven W. Jones, Co-founder, President and CEO of IERC Education Foundation (IERCEF). “We have learned much being out-in-front as advocates for increasing HBCU study abroad participation. It’s been challenging and expensive, but that’s how you learn fast and succeed. When is tuition cheap? We are fortunate to work with partners who understand the mission and see the big goal.”

The NC SAGE Partnership was created to bring together leaders and stakeholders committed to increasing the global competencies of their students entering an increasingly competitive workforce even if they never leave their state. Academic and graduate marketplace outcomes matter particularly when recent college graduate unemployment rates for students-of-color according to the Economic Policy Institute, can be double that of whites as many HBCU cohort (student loan) default rates soar above the national average.

Seven of 11 North Carolina’s HBCUs offer courses or degree programs ranging from: public health, nursing, sports medicine, exercise science; wellness, food and nutrition. Health studies are one of the fastest-growing subject areas on US campuses and the Tar Heel State is home to some of America’s best programs. Today, more health professionals are globally mobile, a trend that is only expected to increase according to the Association of Schools for Public Health.

IERCEF feels students of public health at HBCUs need the global edge too. For those institutions that have made significant investments in their health studies programs (e.g. North Carolina A&T State University, Hampton University and Morehouse College) having a global health component would expand their reach and return.

“These institutions are poised to leverage their special insight in health disparities and Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cancer. HBCUs are already uniquely positioned to amplify their impact globally,” said Gretchen Cook-Anderson, Director of Diversity Recruiting & Advising at IES Abroad.

Eighty percent of NCD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Not only does Jamaica’s health profile mirror many African American communities, its Minister of Health has recently launched a bold, five-year strategic plan aimed at tackling NCD’s prevalence while chairing the new: Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). In addition to this, the Honorable Dr. Fenton Ferguson MP, DDS is a Howard University (Class of ’74) alumni.

“The (NC SAGE) Partnership is to bring together our institutions around the common interest of creating global citizens ready to excel in today’s marketplace,” proclaimed Dr. Jimmy R. Jenkins, Sr. President of Livingstone College, lead institution and developer with IERCEF of the NC SAGE Partnership.

“This initiative is about three key things: one, proving HBCUs can collaborate in an environment of scarce resources; two, they can be integrative and move quickly; three, they are relevant globally and student-outcomes focused” added Earl M. Brown, Jr. NC SAGE Partnership‘s coordinator. Students who wish to apply online should visit:

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