OXFORD, Miss. – Students at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy are taking action to educate high school students about diabetes.
“It’s no secret that Mississippi is the highest-ranked state for people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes,” said Ashley Hale, a student in her second professional year of pharmacy school, or PY2. “We think the best way to increase awareness and prevent more cases of Type 2 diabetes in our state is to reach out to young people. PY2 students Emily Carrell of West Salem, Wis; Christa Curtis of Nesbit; Riley Krus of St. Louis; and New Albany native Hale, along with PY1 student Gabe Hinojosa of Picayune, recently traveled to Ingomar Attendance Center in New Albany to speak to seventh- through 12th-graders about diabetes. The students are all members of the UM chapter of the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists.
The presentation was in conjunction with “Operation Diabetes,” a nationwide APhA-ASP initiative that encourages pharmacists and student pharmacists to increase overall awareness of diabetes and the role that pharmacists play in preventing and managing the disease.
Carrell spoke to Ingomar students about the different types of diabetes and their effects on the body. She also outlined how the students can prevent Type 2 diabetes with exercise and a healthy diet.
“This is a huge problem in our nation, and especially Mississippi,” Carrell told the students. “Our state is struggling with obesity, and we are trying to find ways to help people out. What you can do to lower your risk for having Type 2 diabetes later in life is to start with a healthier lifestyle.”
For Curtis, speaking about Type 1 diabetes hit close to home.
“My 15-year-old sister, who is a sophomore in high school like some of you, was diagnosed with Type 1 at 11 years old,” she told the students. “This is something I know a lot about, and it’s very personal to me.”
Richard Murry, a seventh-grader at Ingomar, said that he learned a lot from the presentation.
“I learned about how you can have Type 1 diabetes from a young age and how you can get Type 2 diabetes as you get older,” he said.
Kenneth Roberts, Ingomar’s principal, hopes the presentation will encourage the school’s students and faculty to evaluate their eating and exercising habits.
“I hope that this presentation will give our students some things to think about,” he said. “My goal with this visit was for our students and faculty to listen to the presentation and catch on and say, ‘Hey this is a real problem.’ It might encourage them to start eating better, exercising and leading healthier lives.”
Hale, who is an alumna of Ingomar Attendance Center, said it is imperative that students become aware of the choices they make that could increase their chances of developing diabetes.
“(Students) should know what a healthy serving is, and how to choose healthier food choices, and they should definitely know that exercise is key,” she said. “It doesn’t take running a marathon to prevent diabetes. Just getting up and walking is better than doing nothing.”
Hale hopes that the initiative will grow.
“This is just the beginning,” she said. “I hope that our students in Oxford can keep it going because we are definitely going to spread the word in the Jackson area next year.”
Ole Miss pharmacy students complete some of the third and fourth years of their professional program at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.