A Healthy Collaboration

More than a dozen UNCG undergraduates have made a big impact in the Greensboro Montagnard community in the last two years.

The Montagnards (also known as Dega) supported U.S. forces during the Vietnam War, and have suffered political persecution and violence in the region ever since. Since the 1980s, Guilford County has welcomed many hundreds of Montagnard families. Their healthcare needs are a concern.

UNCG, in collaboration with Guilford College and NC A&T State, is making a difference through community-engaged research – and the day-to-day outreach work is often led by undergraduates.

“These kids will mentor and train each other. They get it done,” says Dr. Sharon Morrison, UNCG associate professor of public health education and research fellow at UNCG’s Center for New North Carolinians.

The students collect hair and saliva, explains Jalisa Horne, a senior nutrition major. “Everyone helps out with the biological measures.” They use the samples to detect cortisol, which indicates levels of stress and can be an indicator of health issues. Then, they give the results to each participant, so the participants can take the information to a health professional. High cortisol levels, high blood pressure, or the results of a survey the students helped create can be reasons for concern and follow up.

Horne and senior public health major Branda Mlo worked together, supported by a Community Based Undergraduate Research and Creativity Award from the UNCG Undergraduate Research, Creativity, and Scholarship Office, also known as URSCO. “We’ve teamed up to develop a portion of the survey for young adults regarding hypertension,” Mlo explains.

Mlo, who is a Montagnard, says, “It’s given me a way to be fulfilled. It links us to all these resources that Montagnards would not know how to access — and it’s being done by college students.” After graduation, she plans to continue work with the Montagnard community. She adds, “I did not know I wanted to do research until I did this project.”

The project’s level of undergraduate participation is unprecedented at UNCG, says Dr. Sudha Shreeniwas, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies and research fellow at UNCG’s Center for New North Carolinians.

A common goal unites all the undergraduates involved – a desire to make a real impact in the world, through engaged research.

redacted from the Fall 2015 UNCG Research Magazine and UNCG NOW, article by Mike Harris

Click to read the Fall 2015 UNCG Research Magazine

Making our mark

You learn best by doing. 

When undergraduates roll up their sleeves and conduct research, they learn more and they understand more deeply. They prepare themselves for their future careers or graduate studies. They make a positive change in our world. 

Undergraduate research makes an impact. One young scholar at a time.

See more stories about undergraduate research in “Marking our Mark” in the current the Fall 2015 UNCG Research Magazine