School of Rural Public Health participates in Caring Aggies Mentoring Program

CAMP studentsTexas A&M University is known for the Aggie Network and their reputation for maintaining lasting connections with other Aggies, even those they have never met. This is no less true for those “adopted” Aggies such as faculty and staff members who are connected to Texas A&M solely through their job with the university. The idea is that to be part of the Aggie family is to never be without a friend or mentor no matter where you are in the world.

One professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health has taken that notion to heart. This past Saturday, Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., assistant professor, hosted a group of 9th and 10th graders from the Caring Aggies Mentoring Program (C.A.M.P.) in Houston on an all-day science trip at the College Station campus.

CAMP Image Mehta was assisted by faculty and graduate students from the environmental and occupational health department in engaging students in various activities related to public health research. They participated in in-class activities and team building exercises, as well as visited the environmental and occupational health labs where they were able to view animal brain anatomy, neuroimaging of human brain during motor tasks, and kinematics of human movement and balance.

“The primary focus of C.A.M.P. is to inspire students to graduate high school and pursue higher education,” said Mehta. “By beginning at such a young age, we are able to form a bond with these students and set an example for what they can achieve.”

For the last year Mehta and her husband have volunteered their time to the C.A.M.P., which is a long-term mentoring program supported through the Houston A&M Club. C.A.M.P. works with various schools throughout Houston to select disadvantaged students with good family support to participate in the program.

Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D.

Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D.

Every month students attend a different event, such as trips to local shops to assemble bikes, the zoo, museums, or attending professional or collegiate sporting activities. Volunteers are assigned a group of 3rd graders and follow their students’ progress through high school graduation.

“Although this program is about encouraging academic excellence, it is not a tutoring program,” said Mehta. “The idea is that we provide these students with a fun and informative weekend every month and demonstrate the qualities necessary for success.”

Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health faculty that assisted in the science camp included Natalie Johnson, Ph.D., Adam Pickens, Ph.D., Leslie Cizmas, Ph.D., Thomas McDonald, Ph.D., and Virendra Sharma, Ph.D. Graduate students Ashley Shortz, Sloane Hoyle, and Amber Truebold also helped with the event.

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