Tuition Waivers Available for Southeast’s Community Health Workers Program


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

This partnership between Southeast and the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Cancer and Chronic Disease Control (DHSS) 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

“Southeast is proud to once again offer this high-quality, intensive training to our local communities,” said Christy Mershon, assistant director of Continuing Education at Southeast. “This program provides employment and advancement opportunities in health and health-related organizations to an essential group of workers.”

The course is composed of 100 hours of in-class training, held at Southeast’s main campus in Cape Girardeau and regional campuses in Sikeston, Malden and Kennett, Missouri. Dr. Linda Garner, associate professor of nursing, and Dr. Debbie Lee-DiStefano, professor of Spanish language and culture, will conduct the in-class training.

“As a public health nurse and educator, I see the opportunity for community health workers to make a difference in southeast Missouri,” Garner said. “Increasing the number of trained CHWs can improve access to care for hard-to-reach populations and strengthen health promotion and disease prevention efforts in rural, underserved communities.”

Lee-Distefano added, “The holistic focus on the health and well-being of the patient brings more to the conversation than just the symptoms. A CHW is someone from the community who has a greater understanding of the nuances of culture of that community and can create a relationship of trust and understanding, giving greater possibility of improving the overall health and mental well-being of the individual.”

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