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Nelson tackles UA Rural Health Scholars program

Brewton resident Ora Nelson experienced college life firsthand this summer through the Rural Health Scholars program at The University of Alabama.

The five-week program, offered through UA’s College of Community Health Sciences, introduces students from rural areas to college life and gives them an orientation to the need for health and medical professionals in communities like their own.

Ora Nelson participates in the 2017 Rural Health Scholars program at The University of Alabama.

The Rural Health Scholars, who are rising high school seniors, live on campus, take college courses in English and chemistry, learn about health careers, participate in seminars with practicing health care professionals and make field trips to rural health care facilities and a medical school.

Nelson, a rising senior at T.R. Miller High School, applied for the program because she thought it would be a great “trial run” for college.

“It’s really exposed me to the college process,” she said. “Without this program, I wouldn’t have met all of the other students and faculty members.”

Students participating in the program receive college credit, tuition, housing and a meal ticket. Since the Rural Health Scholars program was founded in 1993, nearly 650 students from rural areas within every Alabama county have participated.

Statistics show rural students are more likely to live and practice in rural areas, said Cynthia Moore, assistant director of the Rural Scholars programs. The Rural Health Scholars and the Rural Minority Health Scholars programs are part of the UA Rural Health Leaders Pipeline founded by Dr. John Wheat, a professor of community and rural medicine in the College of Community Health Sciences.

The Pipeline’s mission, said Wheat, is to encourage, attract and nurture students of rural Alabama into and through programs to “grow our own” rural health professionals who are leaders in developing healthy communities.

She is the daughter of Jay Nelson and Stephanie and Wesley Snodgrass.