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CHECK (Creating Healthy Eating Choices for Kids) will implement a health promotion program which focuses on healthy nutrition for school-age children and their parents from the Lyford community in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) of South Texas. The project will be a collaborative effort of The University of Texas-Pan American’s (UTPA) Border Health Office (BHO), Nursing Department and Dietetics Program, all of which are based in the College of Health Sciences and Human Services (CHSHS).
The objectives of CHECK are to:
·         Implement a culturally-competent approach to nutrition education in an under-resourced rural community.
·         Provide graduate nursing students in an Advanced Rural Health Nursing Course with an opportunity to engage in a nutritional outreach program for a rural community.
·         Empower children to make healthy lifestyle choices, including healthy cooking and food demonstrations.
·         Foster an environment that supports healthy choices which leads to reducing childhood obesity.
·         Introduce community gardening strategies to connect students to the source of their food.
The CHECK project will engage graduate nursing students from The University of Texas-Pan American in facilitation of USDA’s “Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum” with 250 predominantly low-income, Hispanic third and fourth grade students from rural Lyford Elementary School, located in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. An above-ground fruit and vegetable garden to be planted to help extend the students’ connection to the sources of their food and further empower them to incorporate healthy food choices into their lifestyles. CHECK has the potential for wide dissemination throughout the Rio Grande Valley due to existing relationships with an extensive network of school districts on the part of the UTPA Border Health Office, which will oversee and manage implementation of the project.

Many recent news reports having shown a constant shortage of doctors, particularly for primary care. This article by Catherine Rampell with the New York Times examines some possible reasons for why doctor are in such short supply.




November is National Diabetes Month and November 14th was World Diabetes Day.  In observance of World Diabetes Day, The University of Texas-Pan American, COHSHS Border Health Office, Department of Nursing and Student Health Services along with the Rio Grande Valley Diabetes Association offered free glucose and blood pressure checks at 14 locations from La Joya to San Benito and seven locations on the UTPA campus.  A total of 104 persons from UTPA had their blood glucose and blood pressure checked, while the off campus community locations assessed 960 persons.

Diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to produce insulin or when the body does not use insulin properly.  Insulin is a hormone that your body needs to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 25 million people in the U.S. have diabetes and diabetes is the seventh leading cause of deaths in the U.S.

In the Rio Grande Valley, 30 percent of the adult population suffers from diabetes and about 20 percent are pre-diabetes.  In the Rio Grande Valley, we are seeing an alarming increase of children with type 2 diabetes.

Online Education is an ever-growing topic among institutions of higher education. Like everything disruptive, online education is highly controversial. It’s well known by now that online education is booming. Many educational entities are taking advantage of the availability of content for free in a MOOC — a massive open online course — from single-digit addition to the history of Chinese architecture to flight vehicle aerodynamics. Courses like these are even beginning to pop up among the courses offered by universities like Harvard and M.I.T.. It this new wave of education a step in the right direction? Please review the link below to an article by Tina Rosenberg, published in the New York Times on October 13, 2013 and let us know where you stand on the issue.
UTPA Image
“Excelencia in Education recently named the CPP as America’s top program for increasing achievement for Latino students at the graduate level. UT Pan American was selected from among 165 programs from 22 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, nominated at three academic levels: associate, bachelor, and graduate.
Conceived and run by Excelencia in Education, this is the only national initiative to systematically identify, recognize, and catalogue evidence-based programs that improve Latino college success.
To further help her students pay for the cost of college and the Pharmacy College Admissions Test,  Dr. Lydia Aguilera (Program Director), set up two endowed scholarships last year, including theStepping Stones Endowment-Standing on the Shoulders of Pan Am.
To download “What Works for Latino Student Success in Higher Education,” which includes detailed information about all of the programs recognized today, visit www.EdExcelencia.org.”

The College of Health Sciences and Human Services (COHSHS) was excited to have a variety of disciplines represented during Operation Lone Star (OLS) 2013. OLS is a very strategic and important event for the medically underserved in our area. The College of Health Sciences and Human Services would like to recognize the efforts of all disciplines that were involved this year, including:



Occupational Therapy
Rehabilitation Counseling
Social Work
Thanks to Hidalgo County Health and Human Services, OLS is a prime example of inter-professional practice and collaboration towards emergency preparedness; in addition, it provides (this year alone) more than $600k in medical, dental and vision care to families who otherwise would not have had access to these services.

On March 21, 2013, UTPA graduate students from the College of Health Sciences and Human Services SEEP program assisted Ms. Doreen Garza (Executive Director of Border Health Office) and Dr. Shawn Saladin (Associate Dean & Professor) as they visited 4th Graders from De Escandon Elementary in Edinburg.


UTPA’s BHO (Border Health Office) created the SEEP (Student Enrollment & Education Program) to help raise awareness about diabetes and its risk factors and chose to target fourth-grade students to deliver the message because the students in that age group are dependable, responsible and can understand the importance of positive, healthy lifestyle changes.


Students watched videos, took surveys, got a homework assignment, and took home a diabetes registry; all to learn more about complications, symptoms, and the preventions of diabetes in hopes the children share the message with their families.


Lacks Furniture store made the SEEP program possible donating $125,000. This money will be spread out over next five years.

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SEEP & Border Health Office Visit 4th Graders

A big congratulations to COHSHS Dean John Ronnau and Pharmacy Student Michael Garcia who won the Challenge of the Deans Freethrow Competition.

The The University of Texas-Pan American’s 
College of Health Sciences and Human Services (CHSHS) is taking community engagement a step further and branching out to one of the Rio Grande Valley’s most popular venues—the “pulga.”CHEP @ Ochoa's Flea Market CHEP @ Ochoa's Flea Market


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CHEP team members (left to right) Lily Ramirez, Dr. Shawn Saladin and Leila Flores are pictured assisting a patron with health questions and information during a recent flea market outreach event. The CHEP team will man a booth at the Alamo flea market on Jan. 27.

The Community Health Education/Promotion (CHEP) team, spearheaded by the CHSHS, distributes health education and promotion information at area flea markets– otherwise known in the RGV as the pulgas–and other public gatherings.


“The goal for CHEP is to reach large groups of people who typically may not have access to information regarding diabetes, obesity, and other health problems predominately affecting the RGV community,” said Dr. John Ronnau, dean of the CHSHS. “I think people are very pleased to see UTPA have a presence within the community and doing what a college should be doing by getting more engaged. We are committed to our community responsibility.”

The CHEP team hands out information printed in English and Spanish, answers questions, and provides referrals, along with blood pressure checks and other health screenings when available. Launched in Fall 2012, the CHEP team initially set up a booth at the Alamo flea market and since then has attended various flea markets and health events in Alton, Donna, Mission, and the Sharyland Independent School District.

Leila Flores, UTPA doctoral student in rehabilitation counseling and CHEP director, said there has been an overwhelming community response.

“The feedback has been very positive and the information well received,” she said. “Everywhere people share how there is such a need for this type of information. Many of them mention they have not previously received this type of information due to busy doctors or insufficient health care and they discuss their plans to share the information with family and friends.”

The CHEP team consists of students and faculty advisors from all disciplines of the college who are dedicated to making UTPA more engaged with the community.

“It is important for the community to see UTPA not as a separate entity but rather as a committed institution, providing information and solutions for their health concerns,” Flores said.


“There are already several students from the Valley-ICAN program directly involved with CHEP,” he said.Dr. Shawn Saladin, associate dean of CHSHS and director of the Valley-ICAN program at UTPA, said he is optimistic about student involvement and the projected future of CHEP.

Valley I-CAN, which stands for Valley Independent Confident Activities Network, prepares UTPA students with a concentration in deaf rehabilitation the opportunity to become professional consultants to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals seeking full inclusion into the community.

“CHEP provides the opportunity for capstone students to gain service hours while sharing the knowledge they have acquired from their respective programs and in turn, be able to serve their communities. Ideally, we hope to increase the number of students involved,” Saladin said. “In the future, the College of Health Sciences and Human Services would have the opportunity to branch out, further cooperate with the South Texas Border Health Disparities Center and the Border Health Office, and include all disciplines and programs in the college and their student organizations.”

Ronnau said he expects the college to establish a weekly presence in the community, conduct research to obtain input from Valley residents, and identify what potential solutions can be offered.

The CHEP team will attend the Alamo flea market on Sunday, Jan. 27, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. To participate, or for more information, contact Flores at the department of rehabilitation services (956)665-7036 or emaillflores13@utpa.edu.

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