Kenneth E. Swain Scholars announced for 2018-2019
Jeremy Evans, a public health major with a minor in business administration from Lake City, S.C., and Kassidy Smith, a biology major with a minor in psychology from Collinsville, Ill., became Swain Scholars after a competitive process that included a written application and an interview with a committee of department chairs from the College of Science.
Evans is the president of a nonprofit community drama club, Dramatic Coffee Beans, and is involved in the National Beta Club, HOSA Future Health Professionals, Junior Leadership of Florence County and M.E.G.A. (Mentoring, Educating, Graduating and Archiving) Men. During this past summer, Evans interned with McLeod Health in the oncology unit and gained valuable experience in his field of study. He plans to earn a master’s degree in medical professions before attending medical school to study oncology. Evans aspires to eventually open his own practice.
“Being chosen as part of the Swain Scholar family was such a blessing to be able to partake in,” said Evans. “I am super ecstatic begin to promote change in my surrounding environment through this amazing health promotion program.”
Smith is a member of the CCU softball team, serves as an ambassador for the Sun Belt Conference and is vice president of CCU’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee. She has worked with Habitat for Humanity and Miracle League, as well as volunteered at her hometown food pantry and library. Smith plans to attend medical school and become a pediatric neurologist. She hopes to work in one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals.
“As an aspiring medical student, being part of this program will help me gain experience for medical school and my future career,” said Smith. “I am extremely excited to work with such an amazing group of people who share a love for bettering the health of others in our community.”
The Swain Scholars are selected from top undergraduate students in CCU’s sociology, public health, biochemistry, biology, exercise and sport science, and chemistry programs. The students receive scholarships up to $5,000 per year for a total of four semesters, funded by Kenneth E. Swain, a CCU benefactor and retired Myrtle Beach pharmacist who founded the program in 2009. Sharon Thompson, professor of public health, serves as the faculty adviser of the program.
“The Swain Scholars are high academic achieving students,” said Thompson. “Through the courses they take during their junior and senior year, they will engage in community health outreach and research.”
Evans and Smith’s project will focus on improving mental health for college-age students in Horry County. They hope to make a positive impact on the health of the Conway community and CCU students by researching and implementing community health programs that focus on depression, anxiety and suicide prevention for young adults aged 18-25. “Mental health is keen interest of theirs, and that is an area that we have not done work in before,” Thompson said.
In recent years, the Swain Scholars have presented their research findings at national conferences that focused on meeting community health needs. Last year’s Swain Scholars studied food insecurity among food bank participants in Horry County, as well as CCU and Horry-Georgetown Technical College students. This year, they are expanding the study to include other two- and four-year institutions in the state. As part of the project, they will provide information to the institutions about programs that can be created to improve the problem of food insecurity. They are also volunteering in a community garden that provides produce to underserved populations. Students Amber Rahman from Newark, Del., and Rachael Trudon from Coventry, Conn., return as senior-level Swain Scholars and mentors to this year’s participants.