0

Students conceive app to curb obesity, compete in state contest

Members of iTECHealth Systems, (beginning fourth from right) Kaylin Kinchion, Omar Khattab and Kenya Gilkey, are congratulated by JSU administrators and staff on their business concept for reducing obesity. Pictured with the students are: (from left) Dr. Marinelle Payton, Almesha Campbell, Dr. Dorothy Browne, Dr. Kenneth Russ, Dr. Ramin Maysami, Dr. Loretta Moore and Dr. Evelyn Leggette.

Members of iTECHealth Systems, (beginning fourth from right) Kaylin Kinchion, Omar Khattab and Kenya Gilkey, are congratulated by JSU administrators and staff on their business concept for reducing obesity. Pictured with the students are: (from left) Dr. Marinelle Payton, Almesha Campbell, Dr. Dorothy Browne, Dr. Kenneth Russ, Dr. Ramin Maysami, Dr. Loretta Moore and Dr. Evelyn Leggette.

Members of iTECHealth Systems aim to curb obesity through an app that measures, monitors and motivates Mississippians.

The Jackson State University students combined their business and health-care knowledge to create a business plan aimed at shrinking the state’s obesity numbers. The team of four, called iTECHealth Systems, competed in the statewide Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Social Business Challenge on Feb. 10 after winning a campus business challenge last fall.

The team’s app is designed to measure health indicators such as heart rate and blood glucose, monitor health through virtual doctor visits, and motivate people to keep moving with a virtual fitness buddy.

The competition drew participants from each Mississippi Public University as well as the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Elevator pitch, business plan

The competition included presenting the team’s business concept before a panel of judges, making a 90-second, videotaped elevator pitch and submitting a business plan with financial projections. The elevator pitch was presented at a luncheon attended by JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers, members of the Executive Cabinet, other university administrators and staff, and state legislators.

“It’s been an absolutely awesome experience. The students were excellent. The plan was innovative,” said Dr. Marinelle Payton, professor in the School of Public Health and faculty co-adviser to the team.

“It’s definitely something that we should move forward – definitely needed in the state of Mississippi to help to reduce obesity.”

Though the JSU students did not place in the state competition, they stand behind their app and believe it could change lives.

“We’re still going to go forward and launch this company and hopefully make an impact,” said team member Omar Khattab, a senior entrepreneurship major.

‘Passion for their success’

Dr. Kenneth Russ, visiting assistant professor of management and faculty co-adviser of the team, said it was “wonderful to work with our students. We have a passion for their success. Seeing them grow and develop a very interesting proposal was a lot of fun.”

Kenya Gilkey, a team member and graduate student from the School of Public Health, said it was a worthwhile learning experience.

“I’ve competed before, and this was my first time getting this far in the competition,” she said. “It also allowed me to learn the business side of things. I didn’t know that much about the business aspect.”

Other team members include: Kaylin Kinchion, a senior public health major, and DeAngelo Mitchell, a business administration major now serving in Iraq.

The team received additional support and guidance from Dr. Ramin Maysami, dean of the College of Business who served as Blue Cross Challenge campus coordinator, and Dr. Dorothy Browne, dean of the School of Public Health.