UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006 Page: 19
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u n t e u/ n t r e s e a r
"Since I was young I always wanted to do something in the
medical field, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do," writes one
I0th-grader. "Project PATHS gives me a view of each field, and
this really helps me choose what I want to be."
A role model for the students herself, Penia, who is Hispanic
and bilingual, was chosen to coordinate the program in part
because of her own success in achieving a career in public health.
"We involve people from the same culture and y
Students have simply got to belie
'I can be successful at that ' And it ta.
She relates to the students through her own experience. After earn-
ing a bachelor's degree in biology from UNT, she was uncertain
about what to do next.
"I was very introverted," she remembers. "It was like the
microscope was my best friend."
Through the encouragement of her professors, she went on to
earn a master of public health degree at the UNT Health Science
Center. That experience gave her increased confidence and a clearer
vision of her own career path, but she says she could have used the
"It would have been great if there had been a program like
this when I was in high school," she says.
As part of their work at North Dallas High, Pefia and two
part-time graduate assistants present a healthy lifestyles curriculum
based on a program called Salud par su Corazon (Health for
This program was developed by the National Heart, Lung
and Blood Institute and adapted by UNT for use in the high
school's health and life skills classes.
"We added Salud para su Corazan to PATHS because it was a
natural," says Jackson.
By contributing to students' knowledge about healthier
lifestyles, the lessons help bring health issues to the forefront for
'HNPm "nl r n ratn A what I h!vn rdon
students, which is
studies show Hispanics
to have higher health
risks for such
conditions as obesity
S- and heart disease
than the general popu-
Jackson and the PATHS team of co-investigators use
student surveys to measure the impact of the overall program.
Molina High School in Dallas, which has a population similar
to that of North Dallas High School, serves as the study's
The PATHS program aims to increase by 10 percent the
number of Hispanics at the target school who enter educational
programs leading to health and science careers (a pilot survey of
Hispanic students at North Dallas High, conducted before the
program began, showed that only 13 percent expressed interest in
School officials believe the program is well on its way to suc-
cess. The school's Health Science Club is its largest extracurricular
activity, Jackson notes, and PATHS recently received a certificate of
appreciation from the school for dedication and outstanding serv-
ice to its staff and students.
UNT RESEARCH ZOO6 9
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University of North Texas. UNT Research, Volume 16, 2006, periodical, 2006; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc29777/m1/19/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting University Relations, Communications & Marketing department for UNT.