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Health Ed Center promotes health careers

To encourage American Samoa’s young people to enter health professions and familiarize them with options in this area, the American Samoa Health Education Center (ASAHEC), hosted by the American Samoa Community College, has held a series of summer mini-session for students from middle and high school.


Two sessions titled “Practice Total Healthy Living and Lifelong Learning” took place from June 17th to the 21st, and again from June 24th to 28th for middle school students, followed by two sessions for high school students under the banner “Introduction to Health & Healthcare Occupations”, from July 8th to the 12th, and again from July 15th to the 23rd.


Session activities for the middle school students consisted of instruction in holistic health and related health empowerment topics in order for the students to learn about total healthy living. ASAHEC Coordinator Sailitafa Samoa described the activities as “interactive education in as well as out of class.”


With a focus on total health, the students experienced being in diverse settings and benefited from instructors with expertise in different areas related to total health.  Activities ranged from a tour of the Governor’s Mansion with First Lady Cynthia Moliga and staff,  to visiting the Feleti Barstow Public Library, ASCC Library, and Hope House.


Instructors and researchers who spent time with the students included Tunai Alfred Peters and the CNR Agriculture Extension Program staff; Travis Fleming and the staff of the CNR Nutrition Education and the Wellness Center; Dr. Ndeme Atibalenja, plant pathologist with the Tauese Sunia NOAA;  and Michael Larson and the staff of the AS National Park. The students even took a swimming lesson with Daniel Saifoloi, a certified water instructor affiliated with professional waterman Bruckner Chase.  


Sessions for the high school students focused on holistic health, wellness and prevention, and healthcare occupations, with a greater emphasis on classroom activities.


Samoa explained that most participants initially indicated an interest in the sessions when ASAHEC made visits to their schools during the spring semester. Others heard about the ASAHEC summer program through word of mouth.


“Through this program, we hope to encourage the youth to be more proactive, practice holistic health daily, and impact others,” said Samoa. We need our young people to strive for excellence, take things to a higher level, and prepare to be leaders in every area of life, including healthcare.”


Samoa shared that one positive outcome of the summer sessions has been that some participants were inspired to volunteer in local healthcare facilities. Miss Rapiel Faatoa of Tafuna, a graduate of the 8th grade from Manumalo, has volunteered at Hope House, along with her cousin, Faatele Tyrell, a Tafuna High School student interested in nursing.


Faatele learned of the ASAHEC high school summer session and attended the July 8th session.  After the July 8th summer session ended, Miss Rejoice Vili a student at Manumalo also volunteered at Hope House, and Miss Robyn Eti of Iakina Academy started at the LBJTMC in the Physical Therapy Outpatient Clinic. 


“Our office hopes to facilitate more opportunities for students interested in healthcare,” said Samoa.  “We appreciate the spirit and willingness of everyone to work together to recruit young students into the healthcare field. We collaborated with Lori Fale-Sword at the LBJTMC Compliance Department, Sister Faustina Stowers of Hope House, and DOH Director Nua, Deputy Director Fara Utu and Ofeira Nu'usolia, CEO for Tafuna Health Center to have student tours of their facilities and make it possible for the students to volunteer.”


For their roles in making the ASAHEC summer session a success, Samoa extended her thanks to the many education and health care professionals who facilitated learning experiences for the students.