The School of Rural Public Health (SRPH), part of The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, celebrates the first graduation of students from its distance education sites in Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Laredo, and McAllen. The Corpus Christi/Kingsville celebration will be held Wednesday, May 7, at 7 p.m. in the Lone Star Ballroom at the University Center on the Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi campus. The McAllen/Laredo celebration will be held on Thursday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the Royal Palm Ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel in McAllen.
SRPH Dean Ciro V. Sumaya, M.D., M.P.H.T.M., and Mary Wolf, director of distance education at SRPH, are scheduled to speak at both celebrations. Also speaking in Corpus Christi are Juan Castro, M.D., M.B.A., director of the A&M System HSC Coastal Bend Health Education Center; Tom Ballou from the Port Industries of Corpus Christi; and Craig Blakely, Ph.D., head of SRPH’s Department of Health Policy and Management. Other speakers in McAllen include James Burdine, Dr.P.H., head of the Department of Social and Behavioral Health and director of the Community Health Development Program; and J. Humberto Rodriguez, member of the SRPH External Advisory Board from McAllen.
SRPH initiated its unique distance education program in 2000. Students earn their Master of Public Health degree in one of several specializations. The program is targeted to working health professionals.
Courses are offered through interactive video technology with most courses originating in College Station.
“The distance education program has been a great success,” said Sumaya. “We’ve met the goals we set at the outset of the program: we provided further education for current and future health professionals who, because of work and home commitments, would otherwise be unable to pursue this education. We’ve also achieved a great mix of demographics in our classes. There is clearly a need for this program, and we will continue to provide this option.”
There is a strong interest, particularly amongst health professionals among all disciplines in seeking formal public health education, says Sumaya. Other SRPH distance education sites around the state are Mt. Pleasant, Tyler, and Temple.
The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its five components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the School of Rural Public Health.

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