Profile: Bonnie Carew
One good thing often leads to another.
Bonnie Carew spent half her career doing marketing and management for a Fortune 100 company.
Now, she applies those same skills in her role as rural health program leader with the MSU Extension Service and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' food science, nutrition and health promotion department.
An interest in health led Carew to make the mid-career move, earn a master's degree in health promotion and embark on a journey to help communities develop healthy characteristics that lead to an enhanced quality of life. Five years ago, she also completed a doctoral degree in public policy and administration at MSU.
"I'm interested in what communities can do that's more conducive to health," Carew said, who speaks frequently to audiences around the state on such topics as smart aging and healthy futures.
Carew said getting the right people together in a community often is the key to accomplishing goals that benefit everyone. As examples, she cited Itawamba County, where a public van service was implemented, and Starkville, where volunteers worked together to create a senior center. In Holmes County, citizens developed community gardens; in Carroll County, an empty building was converted into a community gym.
"Sometimes I underestimate the power of what people can do, but it is neat to see these projects come together when local citizens focus on an issue to get it done," she said.
As part of her extension duties, Carew directs the Rural Medical Scholars program that was created to "grow local doctors" by identifying talented and interested rising high school seniors. Academically talented students with demonstrated critical thinking and study skills are encouraged to apply.
Offering seven credit hours in biology and sociology during a five-week summer term, the program is not a camp, but rather university-level classes focusing on the medical profession's many opportunities, she emphasized. Along with academics, the students shadow physicians in Starkville, Columbus, West Point and Tupelo and visit the medical school in Jackson.
After 14 summers, nearly 70 percent of the program's 300 graduates have begun or on track toward a health-related career, Carew said. The program is meeting its No. 1 goal of addressing a shortage of physicians in the state. It is also adding to the supply of nurses, pharmacists, counselors and medical researchers. Carew said the program gives students confidence in making their career choices.
"I believe that we are truly making a difference," Carew said.Writer: Allison Matthews | Photo: Russ Houston
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