During the faculty orientation last week to begin the fall 2017 semester at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), Dean of Academic Affairs Mrs. Letupu Moananu introduced the new Coordinator for the American Samoa Area Health Education Center (ASAHEC), a program hosted by the College. Ms. Monica Afalava has succeeded the previous Coordinator, Ms. Sailitafa Samoa, to lead the ASAHEC program in its mission of connecting high school and college students with potential careers in the many fields of health care.
Ms. Afalava joined the ASCC faculty as the ASAHEC Coordinator this past May. A Liberal Arts graduate of ASCC, she completed her undergraduate program with Argosy University, with whom she is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in Public Health. Ms. Afalava brings to the ASAHEC position extensive knowledge in sports skills and strategy techniques, creating customized training programs, and developing curriculum for health academies. In her new role as ASAHEC Program Coordinator, Ms. Afalava oversees all aspects of its activities, which includes providing recruitment and retention activities for K-16, assisting in the placement of health profession students, and providing continuing education programs for the community.
After first submitting an application for another position with the College, Ms. Afalava learned of the opportunity with ASAHEC, familiarized herself with its purposes and methods, and proved a successful candidate for the leadership position. “As a health educator, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she said, “I am excited to take the challenge of bridging the gap between the various departments at ASCC and our local government departments and agencies, as well as the private sector, to build a more cohesive health network.”
Reflecting on the long-term vision of ASAHEC, Ms. Afalava articulated its importance in ensuring our community’s continued access to quality health resources and care. “The purpose of ASAHEC is to promote the development of health profession education by creating community partnerships and collaborations that will in turn increase access the quality of health care in our community,” she said. “ASAHEC is a bridge, connecting the youth and students of American Samoa to their health career of choice, so that they can be better equipped to serve their community in these areas of need.”
Ms. Afalava will work collaboratively with a distinguished Community Advisory Board (CAB) of medical professionals and educators. “The ASAHEC CAB serves many functions, which include the monitoring and evaluation of corporation performance,” she explained. “The Board also oversees the financial operation of the corporation to include the processes of budget review and recommendations and/or modifications. They advise on all actions taken by ASAHEC and provide support for the corporation and its programs.” The board members are Ipuniuesea Eliapo-Unutoa, RHD Coordinator, Department of Health, chair; Dr. Robin Faumuina, VA Clinic MD/Physician, co-chair; Letupu Moananu, ASCC Dean of Academic Affairs; Lele Ah-Mu, ASCC Nursing Program; Derek Helsham, ASCC Health and Human Services; Travis Fleming, Community Nutritionist, ASCC-ACNR; Magdalene Augafa-Leauane, Science Coordinator, ASDOE; and Ianeta Ah-Ping, Dietary Services Manager, LBJ.
Ms. Afalava commenced her new position this past May, which gave her just enough time to organize the ASAHEC Summer Health Academy which recently concluded. The 14 students who met the eligibility requirements for the Academy received a diverse introduction to the various aspects of health care, through activities that included clinical skills and shadowing experiences, a guide to healthy lifestyles, and an overview of how all careers directly or indirectly contribute to the enhancement of health. Based on the students own final evaluations of the experience, Ms. Afalava described the Academy as “definitely a success” which met all of the objectives she had set. With a new ASCC semester just getting underway, Ms. Afalava is currently planning her calendar of activities and events for fall 2017.
Parents and students interested in learning more about opportunities available through ASAHEC can contact Ms. Afalava at the program’s center on the ASCC campus by telephone at 699-1587 or by email at email@example.com. “The services offered at AHEC are open to anyone interested in seeking a career in the health field,” she said. “If they are unsure of what these careers may be, they are also welcome to contact me for advising.”