Tuition Waivers Available for Southeast’s Community Health Workers Program


The Southeast Missouri State University Partnership for Community Health Workers recently was awarded funding to increase the number of Certified Community Health Workers (CHWs) in southeast Missouri serving the population.

This partnership between Southeast and the Southeastern Missouri Area Health Education Center (SEMO AHEC) in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, works to attract, train and retain CHWs interested in serving Missouri’s population.

Twenty tuition waiver applications are now available to complete the CHW Certificate program. Applicants may register online at

“The community health worker is an important and vital part of our health care system,” said Dr. Debbie Lee-DiStefano, professor of Spanish language and culture. “This program provides professional training opportunities to these essential workers.”

The course is composed of 100 hours of in-class training, held at SEMO AHEC. Lee-DiStefano and Laura McVay, the executive director of SEMO AHEC, will conduct the in-class training.

“SEMO AHEC is excited to partner with Southeast Missouri State University to bring this vital training to the Poplar Bluff region,” McVay said. “The CHW program definitely fits with our mission of building healthier communities. Providing training for CHWs develops an understanding of better care for community members and helps build relationships into the future.”

CHWs serve as a resource, an advocate and a support for the client in a compassionate way that is void of judgment.

“CHWs focus less on cost and symptoms and more on the overall well-being of the client as a fully empowered person,” Lee-DiStefano said.

Lee-DiStefano added, CHWs are human-centered and work with the client while respecting their needs, language, culture and individual autonomy to provide the best assistance when clients make health decisions and set goals.

If selected for the tuition waiver, recipients must agree to complete a satisfactory background check prior to accepting the tuition waiver; successfully complete the CHW training program, including practicum hours; and submit an official high school transcript or GED equivalent.

For more information about Southeast’s Community Health Worker Program, visit