PROJECT SUMMARY / ABSTRACT
Systemic inequities in access to healthcare and quality educational opportunity for the youth of
Mississippi (MS) are powerful forces that disengage students from entering pathways toward STEM careers.
Project SCORE (Student Centered Outcomes Research Experience) proposes to engage students from
groups underrepresented in STEM career trajectories through a youth participatory action research (YPAR)
approach, capturing and retaining their attention through the immediacy of health threats such as COVID-19.
Guided by a YPAR approach, Project SCORE will leverage a near-peer mentor model to engage and support
underrepresented students in an exploration of the field of public health. Project SCORE will bring together
underrepresented high school and graduate health sciences students from two communities with significant
health disparities in a year-long weekly afterschool program to develop relevant health behavior research
questions, provide training in research methods, and facilitate the development of student-conducted research
projects mentored by near-peer graduate health sciences students and faculty. A student-centered research
agenda will be developed to support future research initiatives. Students will complete their experience with a
week-long on campus immersion experience. This project seeks to increase awareness of and interest in
public health, science engagement, and STEM careers, as well as increase matriculation into higher education
STEM programs to enhance and diversify the future biomedical workforce.