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World of Difference: UAlbany Student Guides Teens at Risk

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 10, 2012) – UAlbany School of Public Health doctoral student Dorcey Applyrs is passionate about developing interventions to improve the quality of life in communities throughout the United States. This passion shines through in her volunteer work on behalf of African-American adolescent girls in the Capital Region.


Public Health doctoral student Dorcey Applyrs, right, with Delta GEMS participants. (Composite by Mark Schmidt)

For the last four years, Applyrs has been an advisor with Delta GEMS (Growing & Empowering Myself Successfully), a community service project of the Albany Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. The group meets on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus each month.

As an advisor, Applyrs conducts sessions and exercises that seek to guide the 14 to18-year-old girls toward achieving their life’s dreams. She has been instrumental in integrating physical activity and “healthy eating” into the program and works closely with the program’s leadership team to develop, facilitate and evaluate all Delta GEM activities.

“Dorcey is instrumental in the implementation of the GEMS program,” said Selica Grant, chair of the GEMS Committee. “She has aided in developing an assessment curriculum that monitors the progress of the participants in key areas such as academics, leadership, socialization skills and health. This year she is responsible for conducting the Career Preparation Track for the participants.”

Applyrs has impressed upon GEMS participants the need for multi-cultural awareness in any community in which they will live. This year she coordinated a cross-cultural educational workshop that brought together GEM teens with teenage girls from the Karrenni population of Burma which has resettled in Albany. The two groups engaged in dialogue on culture, unity and community service opportunities.

Taking a cue from Mahatma Ghandi, Applyrs explains, “It is my way of taking part in the change I want to see.”

She continues, “Throughout my life, I have been blessed with mentors, role models and kind people who have contributed to my development as a woman, wife, student, professional, and productive member of society. It is my moral obligation and desire to pay it forward. I am committed to helping young people realize and actualize their goals.”

Her academic work at UAlbany is an important part of that commitment. Pursuing a graduate degree in public health has contributed to her personal and professional development. She has team-taught courses with UAlbany faculty, including Social and Behavioral Aspects of Health with Dr. Carolyn Grosvenor ’06, honored this year as a UAlbany alumni “High Achiever” for her medical missions both in the U.S. and abroad.

Upon completion of her doctorate from the School of Public Health, Applyrs plans to pursue a career in the federal government with the objective of helping develop public policy and public health interventions to aid communities.

The Delta GEMS Program was established several years ago to “catch the dreams” of African American girls aged 14 to18 who are considered at risk, and to aid them in preparing for the 21st Century. The Albany chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority began in 1967, and the national sorority, dedicated to the promotion of human welfare, reaches its hundredth birthday this Jan. 13.