Community Engagement Awards

May 13, 2014

Our strategic plan calls for us to serve Kansas, and thanks to the Institute for Community Engagement, we are continually collaborating to make Kansas healthier. The institute recently presented its second annual Community Engagement Awards, which honor KU Medical Center faculty, students and their community partners for exceptional engaged scholarship initiatives.

I had the pleasure of accompanying Ryan Spaulding, interim associate vice chancellor for community engagement, to present the 2014 Faculty Engagement Award to Paula Cupertino, assistant professor in preventive medicine. Dr. Cupertino is dedicated to addressing the most pressing health needs of Latinos across Kansas and beyond. At the forefront of her long list of accomplishments is the Juntos Center for Advancing Latino Health, an academic-community program aimed at eliminating the health disparities in Kansas' underserved Latino communities. 

Latino health was also the focus of this year's Community Partnership Award. Healthy Living Kansas was recognized for its Promotoras de Salud (community health promoters) breast health program in southwest Kansas. Dr. Spaulding and School of Medicine Dean Robert Simari presented the award to the program's primary investigator, Kim Engelman, associate professor of preventive medicine and public health, and a group of promotoras who traveled all the way from southwest Kansas for the presentation. Promotoras are trained volunteers who share their knowledge in their communities and encourage breast cancer screenings. This program, like other Healthy Living Kansas programs, aims to reduce cancer-related morbidity and mortality.

The 2014 Student Community Leader Award was presented to second-year medical student Brittany Bruce. Brittany, while serving as co-president of KU's Student National Medical Association, created a fundraiser that raised more than $2,000 for a new obesity awareness program for the Boys & Girls Club of Kansas City. She also serves on Kansas City American Heart Association's Multicultural Leadership Committee, helping brainstorm, plan and implement ways to reduce cardiovascular disparities in minority populations. 

Meanwhile, the inaugural engaged scholar award winners continue to do great work in Kansas. 

The American Indian Health Research & Education Alliance (AIHREA), led by 2013 Faculty Engagement Award winner Christine Daley, associate professor in family medicine, recently hosted the 8th Annual Our Nations Energies Health and Wellness Pow Wow. Some 60 volunteers conducted nearly 2,000 health screenings at this event, which focuses on the health and wellness of American Indian communities.

The 2013 Community Partnership awardee, the Kansas Sepsis Project, continues to expand under the leadership of Steven Simpson, a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine. A new project quality improvement database allows hospitals to track diagnoses and treatment of severe sepsis and septic shock, as well as measure progress as they all work to reduce the mortality rate by 10 percent by 2015. 

Last year's Community Project Student Group Award recipient, the BullDoc Clinic at Wyandotte High School, used its award funding for several projects, including a new Healthy Paws nutrition and exercise program for 25 high school students. The clinic also collaborated with the Pediatric Interest Group and Care for Kids on Peds Pallooza, an event that introduces students to pediatric sub-specialty careers.

These past and present awardees are excellent representatives our ever-growing community engagement efforts. Keep up the good work!

Last modified: May 13, 2014