Alcorn students work to eradicate obesity, compete at national competition

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health obesity in children and adults is a leading health concern contributing to major chronic disease killers – heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers in our state. Several Alcorn students chose to focus on this problem in their community empowerment project at the 2014 Enactus United States National Exposition in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 31 – April 3.

Enactus is an international non-profit organization that brings together students, and academic and business leaders who are committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need.

Virgil Martin (graduate, mass communications), Chancey Watts (junior, business administration), Demetrius McDougle (junior, business administration), Jarrae White (junior, accounting), William Guster (senior, business administration), Louis Williams (freshmen, business administration) and Adrick Hunter (senior, business administration) along with advisors Drs. Ella Anderson and Donna Williams made up the Enactus team for Alcorn.

In 2008 Dr. Ella Anderson’s son had a massive heart attack and died. He was obese. This tragedy transformed her life. “I began to notice all around me people that seemed to be at an unhealthy body weight, increasing their risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues.”

She shared this with her students and they decided to take action choosing to focus their efforts in Claiborne and Jefferson counties.

In 2013, the adult obesity rate in Jefferson County was 45 percent and 42 percent in Claiborne County according to The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program.

To spread awareness students held town hall meetings, participated in health fairs, placed literature in local stores, and used media to educate those in the local communities.

“Working on this project I’ve learned a lot,” shares Jarrae White. “The battle against obesity will eventually be won but everyone must be a part of the solution. One way to start is by making small changes in diet and physical activity. It is a lifelong commitment and necessary to win the war against obesity."

The team competed against 200+ teams and won first place in their league of the consolation round receiving $500 for their project. The students are working on the project using the triple A concept: awareness, activities and accountability. This is an ongoing project and the team will continue to work until they see increased results in weight loss and body mass index.

For more information about the Alcorn Enactus team, contact Dr. Ella Anderson at (601) 877-6452 or email [email protected].

To learn more about Enactus, visit


Pictured (L to R): Virgil Martin, Chancey Watts, Demetrius McDougle, Dr. Donna Williams, Jarrae White, Dr. Ella Anderson, William Guster, Louis Williams, and Adrick Hunter.