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Each August Whitman College's Summer Community OutReach Excursion (SCORE) welcomes more than 30 incoming first-year students to Walla Walla to participate in student-led community service trips based around the themes of food and hunger, environmental and social justice, and housing and homelessness.

This year, SCORE added community health to its community-based service experiences, which ran Aug. 16-23. The goal of the community health-focused SCORE trip was to introduce incoming students interested in the health field to the complexities and layers faced by rural communities and their related health issues.

Student leaders Laurinda Nyarko and Erin Peterson, both seniors, were very excited to take part in community health's inaugural year in the program. The aspect of fusing the Whitman community together with Walla Walla is what interested Nyarko the most.

"I choose to get involved in SCORE because I like that it's community oriented. I was particularly excited about the fact that we get to work with community members and partners, and try to look at issues in Walla Walla because I think service sometimes goes outside of your community," Nyarko said.

Peterson also thinks it is important for students to immerse themselves in Walla Walla. As a biology, biophysics and molecular biology major, she believes health is an essential part of who we are.

"It affects so many aspects of our life, how we go about our daily relationships with people and has a really big impact on how we walk through the world," Peterson said. "I think it's really important to understand the social determinants of healthcare because then we can look at prevention and root causes and understanding the context of all these issues can hopefully lead to understanding our own role in them and our own role in hopefully preventing them and solving the root issue."

Throughout the week, SCORE participants lived together in a church off campus, cooked meals together, interacted with guest speakers and worked with local organizations such as Blue Mountain Heart to Heart, SOS Health Clinic, Helpline and many others as they became more familiar with the concerns that are within the community of Walla Walla and spend time as a group reflecting on the experience.