Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

Empowering Communities

Graduate assistant Amarachi Wachuku contributes to Prescription for Healthy Oakland programming

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Photo credit: Robert Hall.

icon of a calendarApril 1, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Nina Googasian

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Amarachi Wachuku, SHS ‘18, ‘21, is passionate about serving others: spirit, soul, mind and body. She grew up near Sterling Heights in an eclectic community comprised of individuals from different cultural and social backgrounds. Wachuku earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences with a concentration in Integrative Holistic Medicine and her Master of Public Health (MPH) from Oakland University.

For the past two years, she has worked as a graduate assistant for Dr. Laurel Stevenson, assistant professor of interdisciplinary health sciences. Wachuku’s efforts have been focused on Prescription for a Healthy Oakland, a community-based grant program supported by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, which is overseen by Stevenson. The program initially expanded the university's collaborative efforts to promote healthy living in and around the city of Pontiac. However, due to its growth and vision, the program has extended its reach to communities throughout Oakland County.

“Through community engagement and social prescribing, the Healthy Oakland program seeks not only to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activities, but we aim to increase social connectedness among our participants, other community members, our clinical and social service partners, and our food partners,” says Stevenson. “We know that communities and individuals that are connected and supported by one another have better health outcomes, and this program seeks to build and expand on these connections.”

Stevenson says that Wachuku has been instrumental to the program’s continued success. “Amarachi has been with us since we started revamping Healthy Oakland from our pilot project, so she has been part of extensive planning initiatives and the pivoting of the program due to the challenges of COVID-19,” she explains.

First, the Healthy Oakland team transitioned to providing emergency food deliveries through the My COVID Response Network, a collaborative effort of aid providers in Oakland County working to support and connect volunteers and resources with individuals and families experiencing hardships during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Last summer, as part of her MPH practicum, Wachuku worked as a system administrator and program coordinator for the My COVID Response Network. “Having Amarachi participate in both projects simultaneously helped to streamline our processes between the two initiatives,” Stevenson says.

The Healthy Oakland program also assisted in supporting a senior living facility with bi-weekly food deliveries, and weekly or bi-weekly phone calls with residents to discuss healthy living. “Along with a great group of students, Dr. Stevenson, and Oakland County Health Division staff, I created telehealth education sessions on nutrition, physical activity, money management, healthy cooking, pantry and kitchen management, stress management, and health advocacy,” says Wachuku.

“Amarachi has been incredibly valuable in the development of our health education materials, through her thoughtfulness, attention to detail, respect towards our participant population, and her overall work ethic,” Stevenson says.

With a better understanding of the ongoing public health crisis, the team is transitioning again to provide vouchers to families and seniors that can be spent at participating vendor sites (Sprout Fresh Food Store, Oakland County Farmers Market, Carnival Market, and Save Plus Supermarket) on fresh fruits and vegetables.

“This graduate assistantship has increased my depth of knowledge on the social, emotional, economic, and physical needs of diverse populations,” Wachuku explains. “It also has prepared me for interdisciplinary teamwork in the health science field.”

Wachuku hopes to continue collaborating with communities and developing programs that holistically shape the health trajectories of underserved communities.

Discover the opportunities available in the Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at 

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