Center for Native Health and UNC Asheville – UNC Gillings Master of Public Health Program begin new partnership

Press release from UNCA:

The Center for Native Health and UNC Asheville – UNC Gillings Master of Public Health (MPH) Program announced today that they are entering a new partnership to support each other’s efforts to enhance the health and well-being of individual members and the community of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and people in the Western North Carolina region. Amy Lanou, Program Director of the UNC Asheville – UNC Gillings MPH Program, said, “We are delighted to work with the Center’s Executive Director Trey Adcock and board to  strengthen public health teaching and learning in our region.”

The Center for Native Health will host MPH students for applied learning experiences through the new partnership. Students are required to complete a summer practicum and a culminating experience, usually with a community-based organization, health department, or another local entity. Students working with the Center for Native Health will build knowledge and skills and will contribute to and support the Center’s work.

Mary Newman, a hospice nurse, will be the first MPH student to work with the Center for Native Health. Newman was particularly drawn to working with the Eastern Band after hearing Cherokee Indian Hospital CEO Casey Cooper speak to her MPH class last fall. In her practicum with the Center for Native Health this summer, Mary will talk with Cherokee youth who have gone through the MedCaT program to learn about its influence on their health career plans. For ten years, the Center has introduced tribal youth to health careers through the MedCaT program, in conjunction with Western Carolina and Wake Forest Universities. “This program helps our youth envision themselves as doctors, pharmacists, and nurse practitioners by seeing Native people in these positions. We hope they pursue these interests and return to practice in their communities,” said Adcock, who is also director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies and interim chair of Interdisciplinary and International Studies at UNC Asheville.

Additional opportunities for collaboration may include offering co-educational experiences by Center board members and affiliates, collaborating on grant writing to support shared priorities, and increasing awareness about the MPH program among the EBCI.

The Center for Native Health works with the EBCI and other sovereign tribal nations in the Southeast to address issues related to significant health disparities that exist in Native communities. The Center is driven first and foremost by a community agenda and guided by the advice of community members. For more information, visit:

The UNC Asheville – UNC Gillings MPH Program began as a branch campus of UNC Gillings in 2018 in Asheville and is now a joint program where students earn a degree from both UNC Asheville and UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill. Students attend classes with their cohort once a week during the academic year. In 21 months, they earn an MPH in place-based health. The UNC Asheville-UNC Gillings MPH Program is enrolling now for fall 2022.

Apply by June 1st to pursue an MPH in place-based health in Asheville at MAHEC. Learn more at

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