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Funded Projects

South Carolina Interdisciplinary Maternal and Child Health Leadership Training Program: Undergraduate Pathway

Project Website

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: LEAP

Project Director(s):

Jihong Liu, ScD
Arnold School of Public Health
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
University of South Carolina
915 Greene Street
Columbia, SC  29208
Phone: 803-777-6854
FAX: 803-777-2524


South Carolina (SC) residents are racially diverse with 27 percent living in rural areas. SC ranks poorly nationally for many key maternal and child health (MCH) indicators with persistent health disparities. SC's public health and healthcare workforce is primarily White, aging, and not representative of the population served. The Arnold School of Public Health (ASPH) at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) is uniquely qualified and fully ready to implement an interdisciplinary leadership training program for diverse undergraduate students.

Goals and Objectives:

The overall goal of the UofSC MCH Leadership, Education, and Advancement in Undergraduate Pathways (LEAP) training program is to recruit and support undergraduate students from underserved or under-represented backgrounds and "bridge" their transition to graduate education in MCH or public health and healthcare professional jobs. Our objectives are to 1) recruit 150 undergraduate trainees; 2) provide individual mentoring and academic supports to all trainees; 3) enhance trainee's knowledge, skills, and interest in graduate school training or in MCH-related professions; and 4) strengthen alliance and coordination with other programs on campus and throughout SC.


Eligible trainees are undergraduate students who self-identify as African American/Black or Hispanic/Latinx, are first generation students who attend college, or come from low-income families regardless of race/ethnicity. Training contents are interdisciplinary and delivered through multiple modalities. All trainees will be assigned to a faculty and/or a granduate student's mentor. Our didactic curricular will be seamlessly integrated with existing degree requirements and course offering. To supplement this, all trainees are encouraged to learn online course materials through MCH Navigator or other sites. The LEAP program will organize monthly Dinner Seminars (mainly focusing on academic skills/habits/career exploration) and annual Spring Summit (mainly covering current and emerging MCH topics, MCH leadership competencies, health disparity overview, theoretical models, telehealth etc.). All sessions will be recorded and posted online. LEAP trainees are required to complete MCH-related experiential learning experience (e.g., job shadowing, internship, mentored research project, service project).


The UofSC LEAP program will be based in ASPH and include core faculty leaders plus 40 faculty from five departments with MCH expertise. Partnerships will be established with many academic programs and student service offices on campus to recruit and support LEAP trainees. We will collaborate with two MCH long-term graduate training programs, Title V block grant, and other statewide workforce development initiatives to provide rich experiential learning opportunities for our trainees.


Evaluation data will come from trainee surveys, MCH Navigator, program process data, and administrative data. Using the Logic Model, the evaluation paradigm will assess short- and long-term outcomes toward achieving the overall goal of the UofSC LEAP Program. Annual data will contribute to continuous quality improvement.

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