The Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina has partnered with supplemental insurance company Aflac®to establish a $250,000 fund that will provide five $10,000 fellowships annually for five years. The Aflac®Fellowship Fund will help offset the costs of tuition and other educational fees associated with pursuing a Master of Public Health in Physical Activity and Public Health (MPH-PAPH) within the department of exercise science.
The program attracts outstanding students who learn how to teach and model techniques for developing and maintaining: healthy lifestyles that prevent secondary conditions, physical activity interventions in diverse community settings, public engagement in practices that promote proper nutrition and exercise, evaluation of the societal impact of physical activity and community participation in health-related activities. Graduates are able to advance public health by improving the health and well-being of the individuals and communities within the state, the nation and the world.
Doris Yu Ford, a 2012 graduate of the program, now serves as the Midlands School Outreach Coordinator for Safe Routes to School, promoting physical activity through walking and biking in area elementary and middle schools. “My time at Arnold School of Public Health, and in particular working as a graduate assistant with Dr. Pate, enabled me to experience all levels of implementation of a school-based physical activity program,” Ms. Ford says.
Dr. Russell Pate, professor of exercise science and director of the Children’s Physical Activity Research Group, was instrumental in forming the partnership. “This support from Aflac is going to be a huge boost for the MPH-PAPH program in that it will help us attract students who will then be very well prepared to launch physical activity programs that help prevent obesity and other related diseases linked with a sedentary lifestyle,” says Dr. Pate. “Aflac’s investment in South Carolina through these fellowships demonstrates their commitment to partnering with our state for a healthier future.”
Arnold School director of development Ms. Louisa Campbell facilitated the agreement that established the fellowship fund. “Preventing obesity is a critically important issue for Aflac,” Ms. Campbell says. “They were excited to learn about our program, our expertise and our efforts in this arena so they are delighted to partner with us.”
The partnership is intended to strengthen the public health workforce in South Carolina by increasing the number of MPH-PAPH graduates who are ready to design and deliver community-based programs aimed at preventing obesity and other chronic diseases associated with physical inactivity. Criteria for selection into the program, which begins in the fall, will include, but not be limited to, academic standing, community service and South Carolina residency.