2018 Scholars Program

DALLAS, March 12, 2018 —The American Heart Association has awarded scholarships to six students for working to improve what are known as social determinants of health — the conditions in which people live and work that shape their health.

Researchers, social workers and clinicians are paying growing attention to the social determinants of health. That’s because about 80% of a person’s health is determined by factors other than access and quality of clinical care, according to the AHA .

From a health policy and management student who encouraged corner groceries to sell fresh, healthy foods to a biochemistry student who taught diabetes courses at a community health clinic, the six EmPOWERED to Serve™ Scholars are:

Ahmed Arasah, who aspires to become a physician and promote healthy living through community yoga instruction, offered yoga sessions to his fellow students at Xavier University in New Orleans.

Ahmed Arasha

Michelle Ballasiotes, a health policy and management student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, advocated for corner grocery store owners to sell fresh, healthy foods.

Michelle Ballasiotes

Jose Trinidad Muratella, a biochemistry student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, taught diabetes courses at a community health clinic.

Jose Muratella
 Avery Nelson, a public policy student at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif., helped launch an urban garden where families living in food deserts could harvest fresh fruit.

Avery Nelson
 Esmeralda Ochoa, a student at Chamberlain University in Addison, Ill., who aims to be a family nurse practitioner, partnered with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses to coordinate and conduct community wellness checks.

 Dorysel Sandoval, a senior at Sweetwater High School in National City, Calif., interned and volunteered at a local nonprofit teaching young people about urban agriculture and nutrition.

Dorysel Sandoval

A panel of experts on health disparities judged the scholarship entries, which included videos in which students described what health equity means to them and how they’ve made a positive, sustainable impact on a community’s health.

What Is EmPOWERED to Serve?

EmPOWERED to Serve is a movement inspired by multicultural American Heart/American Stroke Association volunteers across the country who are committed to reducing gaps in health equity in their communities. EmPOWERED to Serve Scholars are students who have been recognized for their commitment to improve social determinants of health.