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ÁNDALE Scholars Program

Published: June 19, 2017

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Scholars show that exercise is one part of the fight against the nationwide problem of childhood obesity.

The National Council of La Raza (NCLR)/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training has been awarded a $281,369 grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support the Advancing Nutrition Development through Alliances for Leadership and Education (ÁNDALE) Scholars Program. Funding will support mentorship, research and experiential learning for undergraduate scholars in the areas of food science, nutrition and dietetics, kinesiology and health science to combat the nationwide problem of childhood obesity.

CSULB and CSU Monterey Bay (CSUMB) are partnering to increase the number of multicultural, underrepresented, first-generation-educated students graduating in the nutrition, health sciences and kinesiology disciplines at the two institutions. The project will run through Jan. 31, 2020. It is let by principal investigators Selena Nguyen-Rodriguez, an assistant professor of Health Science from CSULB; and Trish Sevene, an associate professor in kinesiology from CSUMB.

“It is the most rewarding part of my job to offer these kinds of opportunities to our students,” said Nguyen-Rodriguez. “The knowledge and skills they gain from mentored, hands-on training is invaluable to preparing them for their future careers. If we are to achieve health equity for our most underserved populations, it is imperative that we prepare students from those communities to meet the challenges of fostering a culture of health.”

Nguyen-Rodriguez and Sevene both have a rich history in coordinating services, developing curriculum and providing mentorship to undergraduate students at their respective universities. In April 2015, Nguyen-Rodriguez was awarded the Early Academic Career Excellence Award, which recognizes faculty who have made major contributions to the university through their academic and professional achievements. At CSUMB, Sevene recently received the Allen Griffin Award for excellence in teaching, which honors professors who have a record of both sustained excellence in the classroom and significant community impact.

“One of my passions is turning individuals on to science-based evidence and practice especially in health and nutrition where misinformation is widespread,” said Sevene. “The knowledge and abilities the students gain as a result of good mentorship in this area will provide them a filter to utilize throughout their careers and allow them to significantly influence in the community.”

The ÁNDALE Scholars Program attends to the national goal to enhance institutional capacity to produce graduates with applied technical and leadership skills to address new challenges in food, agricultural, and natural and human sciences.

Program goals include increasing the number of multicultural, first-generation-educated students graduating in nutrition, health science and kinesiology; preparing scholars to enter the professional and agricultural workforce; and increasing scholars’ capacity to apply nutrition knowledge and research experience in professional settings. Those goals will better be met by harnessing the expertise and mentorship capabilities of highly productive faculty leaders from CSULB and CSUMB.

Along with Nguyen-Rodriguez and Sevene, there are four co-investigators who will serve as mentors—Mara Bird, director of the NCLR/ CSULB Center for Latino Community and Centro Salud es Cultura at CSULB; Gino Galvez, assistant professor of psychology at CSULB; and Brian Cook and Joanna Morrissey, assistant professors of kinesiology and nutrition, respectively, at CSUMB. Additional mentors at CSULB include Cheryl Rock and Michelle Barrack, assistant professors of food science and nutrition and dietetics, respectively, at CSULB, and program manager Erika Bonilla.

All mentors have successful track records of engaging underrepresented students through research and training initiatives. Together, they provide a broad range of expertise and experience to best serve and prepare the diverse students at both institutions. Additional faculty mentors from related disciplines or research endeavors are welcomed to join the working group.

The ÁNDALE Scholars Program will serve 13 undergraduate students per year (two 16-week semesters and six weeks in summer). Scholars will participate in monthly trainings, take two courses related to their career paths and meet with mentors for individualized career planning. Additionally, they are matched to a community-based summer research experience, sites that include CSULB, the CSULB Centro Salud es Cultura, AltaMed Health Services, Centro CHA, Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Madison Park Neighborhood Association, St. Mary’s Medical Center, CSUMB, the CSUMB Service Learning Institute, the Center for Community Advocacy, Monterey County Health and Human Services Natividad Medical Center.

Scholars will begin the program this fall. The six-week summer experiential learning opportunity is an exchange program in which CSULB scholars will complete their summer research at CSUMB or affiliated organizations, and vice versa.

For more information about the ÁNDALE Scholars Program, contact the NCLR/CSULB Center at 562/985-5312, Nguyen-Rodriguez or Bonilla by email.