UofM School of Public Health offering dual enrollment to high school students to address today’s public health challenges

The initiative is among the first of its kind in the country

Sept. 29, 2023 — The School of Public Health at the University of Memphis recently launched an initiative to empower high school students in the Memphis community and beyond to solve public health challenges facing communities today. 

Following the 2022 rollout of its pilot project REAIM, which serves as a model for public health education in high schools, this semester the School of Public Health introduced a public health dual-enrollment opportunity for high school juniors and seniors. The initiative is among the first of its kind in the country.

“This profession is for every student interested in how public health significantly shapes our daily lives and how they can be part of the next generation of leaders in this rapidly growing field to improve the health and well-being of others,” said Dr. Ashish Joshi, dean of the School of Public Health. 

The field of public health is vital to educate the next generation of interdisciplinary public health leaders who can influence population health around the world. Fulfilling that societal need, this dual-enrollment program allows high school students to take college courses at the School of Public Health. Students who later attend the University of Memphis and declare their undergraduate major within the School of Public Health will have the option to apply the credits earned from these courses toward their bachelor's degree. 

High school students participating in the public health dual-enrollment program can complete classes in Environmental and Climate Health; Social Determinants and Health Disparities; Health Data Analytics and Informatics; Global Health Crises and Milestones; and Public Health in Action.  

This fall an inaugural cohort of nearly 80 high school students across three schools have been enrolled in the public health dual-enrollment program. 

Under the REAIM initiative, Joshi plans to establish a Public Health Club for high school students. (REAIM stands for Research, Entrepreneurship, Analytics, Informatics and Management.)

Joshi emphasized that this ground-breaking initiative aims to instill leadership and educational advancement among students to solve public-health challenges of the 21st century in local, regional and global settings.

“Dual enrollment and student clubs both offer a tremendously exciting opportunity to engage more high school students in pressing public health matters,” said UM Provost David Russomanno. “Such engagement will not only provide a means to attract more students to professions in public health through baccalaureate degree completion, but also provide relevant education and experiences for students to immediately contribute to the public health workforce. It is wonderful to see the School of Public Health at the University Memphis as a national leader in this area of need.”

In addition to the dual-enrollment program, high school students can participate in the Interdisciplinary Public Health Certificate program, allowing them to explore the field of public health, further their education and have the option to transfer earned credits towards a bachelor’s degree. The Interdisciplinary Public Health Certificate program is fully online and interactive, delivering experiential learning to high school and undergraduate students around the world.

This dual-enrollment model can cultivate opportunities for public health-oriented partnerships between high schools and universities, prepare young adults for the public-health pipeline and ultimately reduce health inequities in our highest-need communities.