12 of the 19 students participating in the ASCC-ASAHEC Summer Health Academy celebrate during the Academy's conclusion last week. Front (l-r): Meleane Savusa, Victoria Lavea, Daisy Fetisone, Juliette Faoagali, and Prescilla Maunu. Standing (l-r) Fernandez Lago, Tausoa Tevita, Esther Turituri, Justine Aetonu, Mao Luamanu, William Mailo, and Isidro Balza.(Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

Seven of the 19 students participating in the ASCC-ASAHEC Summer Health Academy celebrated during the Academy's conclusion last week. Front (l-r) ASAHEC Program Assistant Ruta Ropeti, Francine Iopu. Standing (l-r) Faatele Tyrell, Sivoki Niumataiwalu, Line Futi, Victoria Lavea, Meleane Savusa, Mao Luamanu. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC-ASAHEC Concludes Summer Health Academy

August 10, 2015

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

With the aim of encouraging the Territory’s young men and women who are interested in entering the healthcare professions, the American Samoa Area Health Care Center (ASAHEC), a program of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) held its 2015 Summer Health Academy from July 20th to August 4th. The Academy, which concluded with a Recognition Program last week, attracted 19 students from both ASCC and the local high schools for an intensive program that included developing their skills for professional development in healthcare, an introduction to HOSA-Future Health Professionals, promoting holistic health and lifestyle choices, and identifying the next step in their health career pathways.

ASAHEC funded the Summer Academy, a collaboration between with the Department of Health, Department of Education, and LBJ Tropical Medical Center (LBJTMC), and selected each participant based on their application, letters of character reference, written essay and personal interview. Classroom activities including preparing resumes, creating individual five-year health career plans, and working in small groups on projects promoting health careers and identifying community health problems and solutions. A number of guest speakers shared their knowledge and experience during the Academy, starting with ASCC graduate Ms. Lelia Mona Chang, currently studying to become a veterinarian. Other guests included Mr. Robert Toelupe, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Veteran’s Center; Ms. Lele Ah Mu, Chairperson of the ASCC Nursing program; Dr. Daniel Chang, Chairperson of the ASCC Health & Human Services department; Mrs. Leuga Turner, the first Licensed Clinical Social Worker in American Samoa; . Dr. Robin Faumuina of the American Samoa Veterans Outpatient Clinic; and John A. Burns School of Medicine student Mr. Subodh Mehta; Captain John Fia of the Medical Reserve Crops; and CEO of EMS Mr. Galumalemana Avegalio.

Activities were based on the ASCC campus, alternating with additional sites such as the Veterinary Clinic, the Department of Health, and Star Kist Samoa. Participants toured LBJTMC, and subsequently shadowed health care professionals in the morning, and in the afternoon heard from a number of specialists in a variety of Hospital occupations. For the benefit of the high school students not familiar with ASCC, the College’s Student Services Division provided a tour of the tutorial facilities on campus and information on the types of academic support available.

At the Academy’s conclusion, the participants prepared a program of entertainment for the many health care professionals in attendance, ASCC faculty, and family and friends of the students. The ceremony included testimonials from many of the participants, as well as special recognition in the categories of Perfect Attendance, Uniform & Attitude, Leadership Characteristics, Writing Abilities and Public Speaking Abilities. Guest speakers included Ms. Ipuniuesea Eliapo – Unuota, DOH Occupational Therapist and Head Chair for the ASAHEC Board, who commended the students for their enthusiasm and encouraged them to continue in their path towards a healthcare profession. “Our islands need healthcare professionals dedicated to our community,” she reminded the students, “and I hope I’m looking at the doctors, nurses and other health specialists of the future.”

Ms. Sailitafa Samoa, ASAHEC Program Director, also emphasized the need for more of American Samoa’s young people to set their sights on health careers. “We need to build up the pipeline of students to be leaders in healthcare in the future,” she said. “All of the health departments and individual professionals who assisted in the Academy agree on this need and are willing to assist in providing more opportunities for our youth to receive the education they need to succeed as our community’s health leaders of tomorrow.”

Academy participants included ASCC students Justine A’etonu, Isidro Balza, Daisy Fetisone, Line Futi, Francine Iopu, Alexy Kaiva, Mao Luamanu, Sivoki Niumataiwalu, Meleane Savusa, Tausoa Tevita and Rienaia Toleafoa. Representing the local high schools were Rapiel Fa’ata’a, Juliette Faoagali, Fernandez Lago, William Mailo, Precilla Masunu and Esther Turituri. Two students from the Territory currently attending college off-island, Isalei Afioa’e of UH Hilo and Victoria Lavea of Washington State University, rounded out this summer’s participants.

For more information on the American Samoa Area Health Education Center, call 699-1587.