First Class

Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

UMKC graduates inaugural Health Sciences majors

Along with their diplomas, success awaited the first graduating class of Bachelor of Health Sciences students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Nursing and Health Studies.

Success for this group of about 40 graduates meant placements in professional careers and graduate schools. They included a job as a patient advocate and navigator at North Kansas City Hospital for Naty Jimenez, a research assistantship at Saint Louis University for Aurielle Young and a spot in the UMKC School of Dentistry for Eilise O’Connor.

“I chose UMKC’s BHS program because I wanted to ensure I’d have a solid base for entering the health field, specifically dentistry,” said O’Connor, a UMKC Women’s Basketball guard who was named a Division I First Team Academic All-American. “The element that has stood out the most about my entire experience in the BHS program is the genuine care and investment the professors and administrators display for each student. You’re considered an individual with a unique story.”

The UMKC BHS degree program is for students interested in a health career focused on prevention, promotion and population health. It was created in response to growing workforce demand for health professionals in personal health and wellness, social determinants of health, occupational health and safety, community health and environmental health.

“I’d been working in the clinical sector of healthcare and had seen so many health disparities that kept reoccurring: same patients, same illness, same social factors,” said Paige Sanders, who graduated with her BHS degree. “I want to work to keep patients out of the hospital. The type of career I am working towards is in the coordination of health care clinics, hospitals and organizations, something with a strong administrative nature.”

Founded with 20 students in fall 2011, BHS is the newest undergraduate degree program of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Director Janis Ellis-Claypool said the BHS program has now grown to more than 300 students interested in making a difference by improving the health of their community.

“This first graduating class of students has helped lead the path for a new degree, and their involvement, feedback and active participation in the courses and overall program has shaped our content, our service learning experiences and our internships,” Ellis-Claypool said. “They found incredible experiential learning opportunities in their final semester.”

BHS students worked with organizations including the Independence Health Department, Susan G. Komen, Girls on the Run, American Red Cross, KC Care Clinic and Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“We are very proud of our graduates and their belief in this program,” said Ann Cary, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies. “We are excited about their future and their ability to participate in the changing health environment.”

| Stacy Downs, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications

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