East Texas students who received stipends for college from Texas Area Health Education Center East Piney Woods Region are, from left: Courtney Lister of Buna, nursing, SFA; Kierra Hart of Alto, nursing, SFA; Kristi Hallmark of Alto, nursing, SFA; Olumide Sokunbi of Nacogdoches, biology, Baylor University; Ke'Ara Williams of Nacogdoches, nursing, Sam Houston State University; Brooke Taylor of Nacogdoches, health education, SFA; and Kimberly Fuentes of Nacogdoches, social work, SFA.

The Texas Area Health Education Center East Piney Woods Region recently awarded seven outstanding East Texas students with $1,500 stipends to help further their goals of becoming health career professionals after high school.

Students received the awards through the Encouraging the College-Bound into Healthcare Occupations program, which offers the opportunity to learn about a wide array of health careers. Students participated in career exploration activities such as health care job shadowing and volunteer community service projects.

"Although students typically have some general knowledge about some health professions such as being a nurse, doctor or pharmacist, they are less familiar with allied health fields such as physical, occupational or respiratory therapy, nutrition, radiology or practicing as a physician assistant, " said Mavis Yarbrough, health careers promotion and preparation coordinator for the Texas AHEC East Piney Woods Region.

"More importantly, students may not know that these careers are within their reach. In today's health care environment, there are many fields and educational paths that vary in length and intensity for high school students to consider."

ECHO program coordinators provided workshops, guidance and mentoring, along with one-on-one help with the college application process and college preparation sessions. Last year, the nine regional centers awarded more than $43,500 in stipends to 29 college-bound high school students.