You’re never too young to start helping others, and high school seniors at Marietta High School are doing just that.

With a curriculum created in conjunction with Ohio University’s Department of Social and Public Health in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, 10 seniors at Marietta High School are working this school year on 100 hours of coursework and 130 hours of field work that will allow each to become a certified community health worker upon graduation.

Kerri Shaw, field director for the social work program, said a training session was held for community health workers, and one of those who attended was certified as a trainer for community health workers. Kim Depue — a career and college readiness instructor for Marietta High School. Depue — decided to bring the opportunity to her students.



“We decided that because this area is one of high health disparity, we would pilot the program as a senior-only program with all the curriculum and standards and Ohio University as the vehicle,” Depue said. “There aren’t many jobs currently for community health workers in Washington County, but it is an emerging and growing career in the state of Ohio, so there are job opportunities.”

Shaw said the competency-based curriculum includes learning the fundamentals of community health work, including its history and the values of the practice. She said students learn anatomy and physiology, different health issues, stages of development, issues concerning mental health and substance abuse and also about Appalachian culture.

As part of the curriculum, the students visited Ohio University in November where they learned about taking vital signs in the context of community health from Debra Cox in the School of Nursing. After lunch with Shaw, a walking tour was taken and the conversations of the day focused on the impact community workers have on society.

Chloe Hill and Sydney Durham thoroughly enjoyed their visit and the curriculum they and the others chose to pursue. Durham said she aspires to work in criminal justice and psychology and expects her experience as a community health worker student to aid in that quest. Both Hill and Durham said they have noticed how small communities have similar problems and both expressed surprise over a lack of basic health information found in these communities.

“We always thought some things were just known by everyone,” said Hill.

“It really opens your eyes,” added Durham.

Hill and Durham said they enjoyed their lesson with Cox and said that her friendly approach in a high-intensity major was refreshing.

“These seniors are excited for the program. They understand they’re the pilot group and that we’re working through things to see what’s working and what isn’t,” Depue said. “Once completed and they turn 18 with a background check, they’ll be able to fill out an application to the Ohio Board of Nursing and they’ll have a certified skill for a career and/or be more prepared for post-secondary work.”

Depue said she “feels strongly about this career option” and that the program is a step in the right direction to get more community health workers into local communities.

“I think it’s really exciting,” said Shaw. “It gives students who might be interested in health work a taste of what it could look like and it gives them some real field practice. It’s a way to open doors for these students and a way to stand out when they graduate high school.”

About the College of Health Sciences and Professions: 
Ohio University's College of Health Sciences and Professions is a place where innovative education and research happens every day. A growing portfolio of degree and certificate programs are housed in our five academic units: the School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness; the School of Nursing; the School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences; the Department of Social and Public Health; and the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Studies. All five bring together faculty and students across multiple disciplines to explore the best approaches to addressing health and wellness in various settings. Each year, over 1,600 students graduate from our programs prepared as passionate professionals ready to make a difference in the lives of the people they serve. Visit https://www.ohio.edu/chsp for more.