Discovering the World and Its Cultures

Exploring rice paddies in China.
Exploring rice paddies in China.

The phrase “it’s a small world” seems to become truer every day. Without leaving San Diego, it is possible to encounter people from a large number of cultures on a daily basis. Walking down the street, one can hear many different languages and see a wide variety of attire. Today’s health care and social service professionals need to be able to work with diverse populations with sensitivity and respect. That need is one of the driving forces behind CHHS’s requirement that all undergraduate students participate in an international experience prior to obtaining a degree.

Although students visit a variety of countries in a variety of ways, most come home saying they have an increased awareness and understanding of other cultures. They have a feeling for what it is like to be confused by what is going on around you and they report that it will make them better nurses, social workers or other healthcare professionals.

Kristin, a fourth semester nursing student, enjoyed her first international experience in China so much, she added a more extensive trip to Switzerland the next summer. In China, she had the opportunity to visit tourist destinations such as the Great Wall, but she also visited a hospital, a pharmaceutical manufacturer and a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. She found this experience fascinating because the diagnosis and treatment were so different from what she was learning in her nursing classes. She noted that, having experienced this type of treatment first-hand, and realizing how common it was for Chinese people to seek a traditional healer than a modern doctor, she would have to be more patient and more informative if she had a Chinese patient in the future. She also had a “taste of celebrity” as her blond hair and blue eyes made her a rare sight. She realized that many of the families visiting the Great Wall, for example, were on a once-in-a-lifetime trip away from their rural towns and had little experience with foreigners. So they clamored for pictures with her and she realized that being different than the norm could be both uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Exploring rice paddies in China.
Exploring rice paddies in China.

Preston, a recent social work graduate, travelled to Costa Rica for his experience. He noted that just travelling with a group of students who had never met before was an educational experience in handling diversity. In Costa Rica, he stayed with a host family so he had the opportunity to observe everyday life as well as visit a hospital and an orphanage, among other sites. He came home with a different perspective on the advantages of the United States and an increased respect for other cultures. The trip made him more compassionate and more open to new experiences. He also returned home with a drive to become active in an international issue. Since returning he has been involved with the United Nations HIV/AIDS prevention programs and Pink Dot – an organization that is advocating for marriage equality in Asian countries. He plans to continue his education soon and hopes to pursue a career in an international setting, which is very different from his expectations before he traveled to Costa Rica.

Exploring rice paddies in China.
Exploring rice paddies in China.

As a first semester nursing student, Brittany took a different path to complete her international experience requirement and spent a semester at sea. Over the course of the semester, she visited Spain, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Morocco and Portugal. The 600 students onboard the ship studied the history of each country before visiting it and took elective courses about specific aspects of the countries. Brittany studied comparative health systems and food anthropology. She noted that the trip taught her patience as she worked through language barriers. “Everyone was so kind to me, I wanted to be kind back.” She was struck by the gender differences she experienced, especially in the Muslim countries. In Turkey, she realized that going out for the evening with bare shoulders had been a definite mistake, not because anyone said anything to her but because she felt so disrespectful of the culture. She learned that she loved travelling but also new appreciation of the United States. She plans on travelling to South America with other nursing students this summer and plans a career with some type of international focus so she can “go back to help”.

On their international experiences, each of these students visited different countries and had unique experiences, yet each came home with the same overall understanding of the need to be sensitive to different cultural norms. These students also discovered they loved international travel and wanted to do more of it, and that they wanted a chance to reach out and help those they saw in need, regardless of the country they were in. These realizations will make them better nurses and social workers, as well as greater representatives of the United States and SDSU wherever their futures take them.

Development Office

Planned Giving is an Easy Option

Rebecca Williamson Development Officer (619) 594-2868 rwilliamson@mail.sdsu.edu
Rebecca Williamson
Development Officer
(619) 594-2868
rwilliamson@mail.sdsu.edu

Many people regret that making a significant financial gift to the university is not possible right now. You may want to support SDSU during the Campaign for SDSU but you might have been hurt by the economic downturn, are supporting an aging parent or child in college, or simply have other, more immediate, financial priorities, and making such gifts seems impossible. There is another option to consider – planned giving, which allows you to use your assets during your lifetime and gift them later.

Even those who feel like they don’t have an estate may be unaware of some simple and helpful gift options. Here are some of the options to consider:

  • Gifts of Cash. An outright gift of cash is a simple way for you to make a gift.
  • Gifts of Stocks and Bonds. A gift of your securities, including your stocks or bonds, is an easy way for you to make a gift.
  • Gifts of Real Estate. A gift of your real property (such as your home, vacation property, vacant land, or commercial property) can make a great gift.
  • Gifts of Retirement Assets. A gift of your retirement assets [IRA, 401(k), 403(b), 457 DCP, pension or other tax deferred plan] is an excellent way to make a gift. Retirement accounts are heavily taxed to heirs upwards of 60%.
  • Gift of Insurance. A gift of your life insurance policy is an excellent way to make a gift if your life insurance policy is no longer needed for its intended use or will no longer benefit your survivors consider making a gift and help further our mission.
  • Charitable Gift Annuity. A gift of underperforming CDs or stock can establish a charitable gift annuity that will provide income for one or two lifetimes. The donor will receive an immediate charitable deduction, tax free income and meet their charitable goals by benefiting their favorite program at SDSU.

Many of these planned giving options may have tax advantages for you or your heirs. However, this is not tax advice. Please consult your professional financial advisor regarding your individual tax situation.

Planned giving is one option for donors to participate in the first ever comprehensive Campaign for SDSU. This ambitious effort is a five-year campaign with a goal of raising $500 million. To date, more than $350 million has been raised through direct gifts and planned gifts. With ever-shrinking state funding, private support is needed to attract and retain top faculty, support innovation, provide student scholarships and build an endowment to support the future. Your support is important in reaching this goal.

If you are interested in learning more about making a planned gift to SDSU, please contact Amy Walling at 619-594-0286 or awalling@mail.sdsu.edu. The planned giving team also offers periodic information sessions to learn about planned giving options and there is a website with additional information at www.sdsugift.org.

 

Letter from the Dean

Marilyn NewhoffDear Friends,

The school year is in full swing and things are busy around the
college. With many of the budget questions settled for this year,
lots of plans are moving ahead. I have been busy travelling in the last few months. I recently went to Germany to finalize plans for a new undergraduate “International Experience” site. I am excited about the new vistas this will open for our students. We continue to search for new sites that will offer our students the opportunity to experience new cultures and expose them to different healthcare and social service practices.

With the new year also comes new and exciting research studies and programs, some of which are profiled in this issue of the Pulse. One of the most satisfying aspects of our research is how practical and real world applicable it is. We are developing and testing new ways of promoting healthy physical exercise and eating as well as validating the importance of exercise and ways to accomplish a physical fitness goal. New methods of helping wounded warriors and children with speech and hearing difficulties are coming from our research. New models for social service intervention and prevention are being disseminated. Using research, evidence-based practices for nursing care and public health programs are being developed, tested and taught to the next generation of health care and social service workers. It is all very practical stuff and it is thrilling to see how it can change people’s health and lives in the real world.

It is also gratifying to know that our college has been doing this type of research and teaching for so long. 2013 will mark the 60th anniversary of our nursing program and the 50th anniversary of the School of Social Work. The nursing program at the Imperial Valley campus will mark its 5th year of training new RNs, many of whom are already working full-time in healthcare and seeking to expand their abilities through a flexible program designed for them. Watch for news about special celebrations and opportunities associated with these anniversaries.

Thank you for sharing my enthusiasm for the college and its work. I wish you happy holidays and a fantastic new year!

Warmest Wishes,

decorativedecorative2

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Newhoff, Dean

Alumni Spotlight

LEADER EXTRAORDINAIRE — Larry Banegas

SDSU alumnus Larry Banegas.
SDSU alumnus Larry Banegas.

Larry Banegas received his Masters of Social Work (MSW) degree from the School of Social Work in 1987. He went on to work for Indian Child Welfare and the County of San Diego in a variety of positions in child welfare including foster care, adoptions and child protective services. He is now retired from daily employment but is by no means idle. He is pursuing his passion for helping Native American youth with amazing passion and drive using several different projects and approaches.

To understand why he is so committed to ensuring that today’s native youth know and respect the power of their culture, knowing a little of his background helps. Banegas was born and raised on the Barona reservation in San Diego. Largely raised by his grandmother, he remembers the poverty and alcoholism that was all too common. He said, “I didn’t accept it. I wanted to do something.” After attending public schools in San Diego and the Sherman Indian High School in Riverside, he was accepted at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). It was here that he realized how different he felt and how unprepared he was for the experience of college. Living in a city was a shock as well. He realized that Native American students weren’t expected to go to college and thus were unprepared. Despite this, he received his bachelor’s degree in 1974.

He went on to participate in the Native American Movement that was active at the time, including the occupation of Alcatraz, to bring national awareness of the conditions of the Native American people. He taught Native American history at CSULB and California State University Fullerton. At CSULB he started the school’s first Native American studies.

He returned to the reservation and worked as a counselor in mental health services in Jamul with Native American students, where he realized that 90% of them were dropping out of school. Just being there as an inspiration and role model helped many students decide to stay in school, and he helped many go on to attend college. The passion he felt working with young people and helping Native American youth lead him to pursue his MSW at SDSU.

He also continued to work with the tribe, including serving on the tribal council as the Barona Casino was created. He reports that dealing with the political process was quite an eye-opening experience. His son is following in his footsteps by serving with the current council.

Now that he has retired from his MSW career, he is fully committed to using his time to give back to the tribe and to be a great inspiration for his children and grandchildren. He wants all Native American youth to know that “you can do this”, meaning go to college and pursue a career of choice. He says, “Education is key to the future but it’s hard to do alone. Students need to be able to accept help from faculty and family alike.”

He also wants youth to know and respect their unique culture. To help with that, he is creating a documentary film featuring interviews with tribal elders speaking about the traditions, philosophy and spirituality of the tribe. He is hoping for tribal funding so the film can be completed. He has also created a website (www.kumeyaay.com) with details of the history and culture of the Kumeyaay nation. The Kumeyaay nation encompasses the Native American tribes in San Diego County, including the Barona tribe, as well as tribes in Baja. The website includes news stories, videos and music as a source of information and inspiration. Banegas also serves on the board of the San Diego Museum of Man and is helping to coordinate the work of the Museum of Man with the Barona Museum so the two can share resources for mutual benefit.

Banegas says that he is surprised and honored to be nominated as the CHHS Monty honoree for 2013. He says, “The honor is important, but it’s more important that my family is there and that they are proud of me. I want to remind people that they don’t have to accept the world as it is, you can change things. It’s important to give back – if you do well it’s important that you inspire and help others.”

Congratulations on being a fine example of changing the world and giving back, Mr. Banegas!

HELEN KNOLL FOUNDATION HELPS SDSU “THINK PINK”

Keisha Baker proudly shows off her Olympic gold medal.
Keisha Baker proudly shows off her Olympic gold medal.

In October, the women at SDSU were encouraged to “think pink” at a health fair concentrating on early detection and prevention of breast cancer. The event was sponsored by the Helen Knoll Foundation. Ms. Knoll was a graduate of the SDSU School of Nursing. She passed away from breast cancer at age 43. In her honor, her family has created this foundation to reach out to women, especially young women, about breast health.

The SDSU “Think Pink” event brought out more than 200 young women, some dressed in “creative pink” outfits. Nursing students assisted with the event, staffing booths on breast self-examination and genetic risks. They also received the prize for having the biggest group present, with more than 40 nursing students attending. The featured speaker of the evening was Keisha Baker, a graduate student in public health and social work as well as a gold medalist in the 2012 Olympic Games in the women’s 4×400 relay. She spoke movingly of how the struggle of her best friend’s mother with breast cancer inspired her and her hope that these types of events would help avoid such tragedies in the future.

An SDSU nursing student demonstrates breast self-examination techniques.
An SDSU nursing student demonstrates
breast self-examination techniques.

The foundation concentrates on reaching women under age 40 because they do not generally receive routine mammograms or other breast cancer screenings. In addition to mammograms, there are a number of other screening techniques available and the foundation offers subsidies for some women. There is also a growing body of research on who has a higher risk for breast cancer and how to lower those risks. The foundation offers educational events, such as the one at SDSU, to ensure that women have this information. To learn more visit www.helenknollfoundation.org.

 

 

School of Exercise & Nutritional Sciences

ENS Welcomes First Class Into DPT Program

Dean Marilyn Newhoff, University President Elliot Hirshman and Mitchell Rauh cut the ceremonial ribbon for the DPT program.
Dean Marilyn Newhoff, University President Elliot Hirshman and Mitchell Rauh cut the ceremonial ribbon for the DPT program.

On October 22, the School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences (ENS) welcomed the first class of students into the new Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program with a reception. After being welcomed by CHHS Dean Marilyn Newhoff, the 150 guests applauded as University President Elliot Hirshman cut a ceremonial ribbon strung between two skeletons. James Syms, president of the California Physical Therapy Association, spoke about the increasing need for physical therapists, and class president Brittany Pogue spoke of the enthusiasm and high hopes of the first class of 35 students. Program director Mitchell Rauh noted that the connections to the other schools within CHHS would make this a particularly strong program with students who were used to working in teams with other health professionals. Guests were also treated to tours of the new lab facilities, conducted by the new students.

ENS Professors Engaged in Practical Research

Two new professors in ENS are engaged in research with the potential for immediate real-world benefit. Dr. Shirin Hooshmand came to SDSU a year ago from Florida after receiving her PhD from Florida State University. Dr. Daniel Goble came from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, by way of the University of Michigan, where he received his PhD. He also completed a post-doctoral research position in Belgium. He joined the faculty of SDSU last year.

Dr. Shirin Hooshmand
Dr. Shirin Hooshmand

Dr. Hooshmand is researching the impact of eating dried plums on the bone density of older women. Previous animal studies have shown that dried plums, which used to be called prunes, can help increase bone density. A loss of bone density in older women is responsible for high rates of fractures among the population. Osteoporosis (loss of bone density) is a major risk factor for older women. A broken hip in an elderly woman can often be the difference between living independently at home and needing assisted living or nursing home care.

Dr. Hooshmand has previously conducted research on post-menopausal
women between the ages of 45 and 65. Her current research is focused on women aged 65 to 85 to see if they achieve similar results as the younger women. Among the younger age group, Dr. Hooshmand found that 100 grams of dried plums (approximately 10-12) each day increased bone density. By building up that dose slowly, unwanted side effects of the high-fiber fruit were avoided. Other fruits have been tested but none have been as helpful as the dried plums. Dried fruit is generally used for these studies as it is more convenient and easier to ensure a consistent source of the fruit. Eating fresh plums to get a similar amount of the nutrients involved would require much greater quantities than the dried fruit.

Both the study group and the control group received calcium and vitamin D supplements. Dr. Hooshmand notes that these supplements, as well as regular exercise, are important parts of maintaining bone health. She also noted that bone loss is greatest in the first five years after menopause, so women should be especially aware of their risk for osteoporosis at that time. Men can also suffer from osteoporosis, though generally at an older age than women. Animal studies suggest that dried plums are effective for males as well, but no human studies have been done so far. Dried plums are thought to be effective due to their high concentration of polyphenols and future research will seek to confirm that hypothesis.

Her current study is looking at two different doses of dried plums in older women. Both study groups and a control group will receive calcium and vitamin D supplements and will be monitored over a six month period. Participants also receive compensation for their travel. Additional study participants between the ages of 65 and 80 are still being sought and interested women should contact Dr. Hooshmand at 619-594-6984 or shooshmand@mail.sdsu.edu.

Dr. Daniel Goble
Dr. Daniel Goble

While Dr. Hooshmand is studying bone density in women, Dr. Goble is concentrating on concussions in athletes. As the recent news stories on the risk of concussion for athletes attest, this is a topic of great concern to athletes as well as parents and coaches. He studies proprioception – how the brain knows where the body is in space, especially without visual clues.

His earlier work concentrated on balance in older adults. His research demonstrated that regular use of the Nintendo Wii balance games could increase balance in nursing home residents. Increased balance results in fewer falls, a major source of injury among older adults.

His current project is to develop a low-cost and portable tool for diagnosis of concussion by accessing an athlete’s sense of balance, a standard tool for diagnosing concussion. Currently there is an expensive system available to hospitals and professional sports teams to conduct these tests, but the approximately $15,000 price means that it is not a practical solution for schools and youth teams.  Again using Nintendo Wii balance technology, he has developed software to retrieve data directly from the device.  Working with a laptop and the balance device, coaches and trainers can access reliable quantitative data about an athlete’s balance.  Currently balance and the possibility of concussion
are often tested through a field test of standing on one leg or other exercises similar to those used by police officers in field sobriety tests.  A means of obtaining reliable, non-subjective data will result in more accurate diagnosis and, hopefully, eliminate the potential for athletes to
continue playing when they should be sent for medical help.

Dr. Goble currently has a working prototype of his device and is working on testing and validating its accuracy using adult test subjects from the UCSD athletics department (where his student research associate is employed) and athletes from the US Olympic training center in Chula Vista. All of the baseline tests have been completed and the team is waiting for more athletes to experience a potential concussion to continue evaluating the system. So far, two athletes have experienced a concussion and the data looks promising.

 

Graduate School of Public Health

Influencing Undergrad Education in Public Health

book cover - introduction to epidemiologyDespite it’s name, the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) awards an undergraduate degree to approximately 120 students per year. At the moment, there is only one series of textbooks specifically targeted to undergraduate students. Within the next two years there will be a second option, published by Delmar Publishers and edited by school director Dr. Carleen Stoskopf. The Public Health Basics series will contain seven books when it is finished. It was developed in consultation with the Association of Schools of Public Health’s (ASPH) education committee’s task force on public health undergraduate education, on which Dr. Stoskopf served. The task force established
the “essential undergraduate components.”

book cover - introduction to public health managementStudents who complete the undergraduate BS degree program typically enter the public health workforce and start in a specific public health program area in a non-supervisory role within a government or not-for-profit agency, with a few entering private companies. The goal of these text books is to provide the undergraduate student a broad exposure to the disciplines and issues within public health so that they are better able to see the big picture, even as they work on a more limited assignment. This helps the new public health worker start thinking in terms of disease prevention and health promotion at the community level and better understand the role they play in the overall success of public health. The public health field contains five disciplines: epidemiology, environmental health, biostatistics, health services management, and behavioral science/health promotion. Public health also uses research and methods from a variety of related disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, psychology, chemistry, biology, environmental science, math, engineering, and computer science, to name a few.

The first two books of this series have already been published. Basics of Epidemiology: The Distribution and Determinants of Disease in Humans was written by Drs. Caroline Macera, Richard Shaffer and Peggy Shaffer. Dr. Macera is associate director of the GSPH and a professor of epidemiology. The second book is Introduction to Public Health Organizations, Management, and Policy by Dr. James Johnson. Other books in the series will include the public health topics of environmental health, health promotion and behavioral health, functions of public health; international health; and an introduction to public health.

The final book will be Public Health: What Every Citizen Should Know and will be written by Dr. Stoskopf and Dr. Jennifer Schwatz, who received her Ph.D. from GSPH and is now completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia. This volume will answer the question “What is public health?” and will introduce the five disciplines within public health, related disciplines, and their relevance to both the public health worker and the public. The book will seek to familiarize students with public health issues that they face every day, prove the importance of scientific evidence in public health and policy, demonstrate the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to public health problems, and help students to understand the complex relationships that exist between the social and physical realms that must be taken into consideration in solving public health problems. Important topics include food safety and security, water resources
and quality, air quality and climate change, emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, complex determinants of health, control of chronic disease, sustainability, social determinants of health and well-being, social justice, and the roles of community groups, educators, and legislators in promoting good public health policies and regulations.

The new interest in undergraduate public health education is the result of the increasing need for trained public health professionals in entry-level positions. Most of those who graduate from the GSPH program with an undergraduate degree remain in California and take entry-level position in various state agencies, demonstrating that the GSPH is fulfilling the mission of the California State University system to prepare students to work in, and contribute to, the welfare of California.

 

School of Nursing

The Evolution of Nursing and Nursing Education

Unbeknownst to many outside of the environment of nursing practice and education, there is a revolution taking place in the field of nursing. As nurses move into a much larger role in primary care and health policy, there is a corresponding need for change in the education of nurses. And as the overall field of health care involves more teamwork and collaboration across disciplines, this also needs to be reflected in how nurses, and other medical professionals, are educated.

Nurses training in the “bed lab”.
Nurses training in the “bed lab”.

Dr. Philip Greiner, the new director of the School of Nursing, brings a new level of energy and focus to the school. He is working to incorporate the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s
(IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, into the School of Nursing. The IOM is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. After a two-year study they recommended:

  • Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training.
  • Nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training through an improved education system that promotes seamless academic progression.
  • Nurses should be full partners, with physicians and other health care professionals, in redesigning health care in the United States.
  • Effective workforce planning and policy making require better data collection and information infrastructure.

Within healthcare there is an increased emphasis on working collaboratively across many disciplines to improve the overall outcome for each patient. Doctors, nurses, all types of therapists, public health
officials, social workers, and various allied health professionals can all contribute their expertise to benefit individual patients and entire communities. For this to be successful in professional practice, students need to learn to work in a varied team. At SDSU this means more collaboration between students within the various schools at CHHS. This fall students from the School of Nursing and students in the new Doctorate of Physical Therapy program are working together in the “bed lab”. Additional collaboration opportunities are also being explored.

The emphasis on evidence-based practice means that today’s nurses, and nursing students, need to understand conducting and interpreting research and especially applying research to a specific patient. Since no patient is a “textbook case”, an emphasis on case studies and care discussions is being expanded in nursing classes. The School of Nursing is also exploring a partnership with the Theater department where theater students can learn the role of “standardized patients”. This takes the work in the Sharp HealthCare simulation lab to the next level – after practicing with very sophisticated computerized “patients”, student nurses can hone their skills while interacting with a real person.

Dr. Greiner is enthusiastic about ensuring that SDSU graduates are the best in the nursing field and have the most up-to-date education possible. He looks forward to working with the other schools within CHHS as professional education moves to inter-professional education (IPE) and practice (IPP). SDSU continues to be San Diego’s greatest source for baccalaureate-prepared nurses; this level of education is becoming the industry standard. Hospitals that desire “Magnet” status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) must have at least 80% of their RNs with bachelor’s degrees. The California state colleges have made the transition from community college to state university easier and more streamlined, helping to produce more nurses with Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees.

Africa’s Future in African Hands — Nurse Midwife Mary Koroma Speaks at SDSU

Nurse Midwife Mary Koroma
Nurse Midwife Mary Koroma

In April, the California Nursing Student Association chapter at SDSU hosted the Africa’s Future in African Hands tour featuring nurse midwife Mary Koroma from Sierra Leone, West Africa. The event focused on increasing awareness about the disproportionately high death rates amongst African mothers and babies. Other campus sponsors included Associated Students, the College of Health & Human Services, the Office of Educational Opportunity Programs, Africana Studies and the Cross Cultural Center.

The statistics are shocking and indisputable, yet often under-reported. Women in sub-Saharan Africa face a maternal mortality rate a hundred times greater than that of developed countries and nearly one in ten infants will not to live to the age of one year. Nurse Mary is a certified Nurse Midwife who has dedicated her life to saving mothers and babies in her native Sierra Leone.

Nurse Mary visits with students
Nurse Mary visits with students

Last year, Nurse Mary came to the United States to receive training in basic techniques that mean the difference between life and death for mothers and babies in the villages where she works. Since then she has trained the traditional birthing assistants in Sierra Leone, resulting in hundreds of babies born without a single fatality over the last year. Under Nurse Mary’s leadership, the Sierra Leone model has now been established in four cities and has a diverse membership of almost 500 people working on projects including a cassava farm, a vocational institute and a preschool.

To honor the work of Nurse Mary and contribute to the construction of additional birthing clinics, the CA Nursing Student Association chapter at SDSU raised funds to present as a gift. CNSA treasurer and program organizer, Rebecca Ainsworth, presented a $1,000 check to Nurse Mary at the April event.

 

School of Social Work

The Consensus Organizing Center Helps Students Reach College Dreams

Step Up participants.
Step-Up participants.

The Consensus Organizing Center (COC) seeks to “train a new generations of community organizers how to build relationships and solve problems through ‘mutual self-interest’”, according to center director Jessica Robinson. Since it was founded in 1999 by Prof. Michael Eichler, the center has been an active member of the San Diego community and a vital part of the SDSU School of Social Work community outreach efforts. In fact, the engagement with the community was what brought Prof. Eichler to San Diego to establish the center.

The premier effort of the center is the Step-Up Program. This program takes a small number of high school students each year with the aim of helping them to finish high school and then to attend and graduate from college. Students apply during their junior year in high school and are selected by interview. The program concentrates
on the “middle of the road” student who might or might not attend college without the program’s help. High achieving and motivated students are likely to go to college even without assistance and students without some preparation for college cannot complete the requirements for college admissions in time.

step up studentsAfter being selected for the program, the students enroll in a social work class at SDSU, alongside other social work students. They are responsible for getting to class and for completing the same work as the regular students. However, they receive additional tutoring and advising as needed. They learn that they can achieve at a college level and they get a taste of college life that motivates them to continue their education. Last year 93% of the students who participated were accepted into college. Since the goal is to have them graduate from college, not just enroll, center staff continue to advise and support them during their college career.

In 2001 the center began to look at the dismal statistics of those aging out of the foster care system. In San Diego County, approximately 6,500 youth are part of the foster care system. Each year, over 300 of them leave the system. After age 18, their future prospects are grim: 50% will end up unemployed, 33% will require public assistance, 25% will become incarcerated, less than 10% will attend college, and only 3% will actually graduate college. The COC wanted to see if the Step-Up model program could help foster youth be more successful in their transition to adulthood. The initial class helped the center’s staff realize that they needed to address the youth’s emotional reaction to “aging out” of the foster care system as much as the motivation to attend college. Adding additional support and resources resulted in a program where 98% of the participating foster youth finished the class and 80% of them went on to college. The classes were discontinued in 2011 due to cuts in county funds that helped support the program, and the staff are now concentrating on helping the program’s 180 alumni finish college.

Another of the center’s program is “Aim for Law” which helps students attending SDSU prepare for a career in the legal profession. The program works in partnership with Cal Western School of Law to help students who might not believe that law school is within their reach enroll in the appropriate SDSU classes and successfully take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). The program’s goal is to increase diversity within the legal profession.

Finally, the COC also engages in consulting work within the community, helping a variety of groups arrive at community-wide solutions to community-wide challenges. The staff of the COC are all instructors within the School of Social Work and the center also has a number of social work interns each year who are interested in community organizing as a career. Community Development interns work at a social service agency in the San Diego area and participate in community building activities throughout the year.

Community organizing is about helping communities arrive at solutions to issues so they can be self-sufficient and self-sustaining. Their next goals are to help replicate their programs in other areas of San Diego and to publish their successes so that other communities can follow their model, says center director Jessica Robinson.

Studying Environmental Risk and Protective Factors in Alcohol Misuse in the Marine Corps

Note: Image came from DoD photography sources. Persons depicted have no known relation to
Note: from DoD photography
sources. Persons depicted have no known relation
to those mentioned in the article.

Alcohol misuse is a serious concern to the Department of Defense (DOD) because rates of abuse are higher among military personnel than among civilians, and because it can adversely affect individual and family health and well-being, as well as combat readiness and national security. Young Marines, in particular, are at risk for alcohol misuse.

The military response to the alcohol misuse issue has largely focused on the individual Marine; however, broader environmental, social, and policy factors may also influence misuse. Dr. Susan Woodruff, along with Suzanne Hurtado and Cynthia Simon-Arndt from the Naval Health Research Center, are examining a broad range of environmental, structural, and policy variables (e.g., density of bars around the base; alcohol pricing) that may place Marines at risk for alcohol misuse, as well as protective factors that may offset those risks (e.g., availability of on-base alternative activities). This research will help identify environmental risk/protective factors that, when combined with efforts to change individuals’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, may prevent alcohol misuse and its related harm.

School of Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences

Creative Drama Whim Builds Lasting Legacy

On the set of the creative drama video series.
On the set of the creative drama video series.

In 1984, Darlene Gould Davies was an assistant professor of speech-language pathology at SDSU’s School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, then called the Department of Communicative Disorders. She was interested in the idea of using creative drama as a way to help children with communicative disorders and discussed her idea with Carol Riordan of the SDSU Media Center. They went to the chair of the SDSU drama department, Dr. Maggie McKerrow, with their idea. This group decided to share their knowledge with others by making a video. With Riordan serving as the producer, they created the video Creative Drama: An Interview with Dr. Margaret McKerrow. This video focused on the history of creative drama and children’s theater, and practical teaching suggestions for utilizing creative drama in the classroom. Davies noted, “It started as a whim, and it was much easier in those days to turn an idea into reality. There was much less bureaucracy, and we just sailed ahead.”

“Bread and Confidence.”
“Bread and Confidence.”

That video was used by schools in San Diego and elsewhere to educate teachers and others in using creative drama. With the success of the first video, the creators decided to create a total of eight videos on such topics as puppetry, international children’s drama and reading. The videos called on the expertise of the SDSU theater department and video production students. Most of the labor was provided by volunteers, with only the media center staff receiving a salary.

Puppeteer Marie Hitchcock and Darlene Gould Davis in the video “Puppetry as Creative Drama”.
Puppeteer Marie Hitchcock and Darlene Gould Davis in the video
“Puppetry as Creative Drama”.

Davies’ favorite video in the series portrays a production of Bread and Confidence performed by students who were deaf or had severe language disorders. In the first video, Dr. Davies interviews Carol Macy, who was a creative drama instructor and an artist in residence at several local schools. The second video is the performance itself, with full costumes and performers speaking, miming and signing the story for their parents, teachers and friends.

For many years the video has been part of the catalog of Insight Media and has been sold throughout the United States. While the imagery is now a bit dated, the underlying educational goals are still valid today. Sales of the video produces income for SDSU, as well as small royalty payments to the original creators. This year, Davies decided to make these accumulated royalties part of her gift to the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences.

Speech & Language Clinic Celebrates 40 Years

Jo Cormier, then and now.
Jo Cormier, then and now.

Forty years ago, in 1972, a group of reserve naval officer’s wives, headed by Jo Cormier, decided they needed a cause to dedicate themselves to.  Tired of merely social meetings, the club began a major undertaking: the creation of a speech and language clinic at the Balboa Naval Medical Center. They worked to raise the $15,000 required to open the clinic – nearly the price of a new house at the time. Perhaps more challenging, they worked to convince the Navy to provide the space for the new clinic – taking their plea all the way up the chain of command to Washington, DC. For the first few years of operation, these women also served as volunteers, as the non-clinic staff members, answering phones, scheduling appointments and assisting with research. Last May, many of these original pioneers gathered to celebrate the clinic’s 40th anniversary.

slhs-bSDSU’s School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences was also involved from the beginning. The director of the school, Dr. Sue Earnest, inspired her friend Jo Cormier to undertake the effort. Professor Emerita Darlene Gould Davies was the first clinical supervisor. Cormier recruited Davies from her position as the chair of the Speech-Language Pathology department at San Diego Children’s Hospital and Health Center, now known as Rady Children’s Hospital. Davies says, “It was really my friendship with Jo that convinced me to take the position.” SDSU professors and their students provided the clinical services. In fact, these may have been the first clinical externships the school had.

At the anniversary celebration, Cormier remembered, “It took every favor we could call in. We really had to fight to make this dream come true.” Now the clinic serves more than 4,000 patients a year and no longer depends on volunteer staff. More than 120 graduate students have served internships at the clinic, treating military personnel and their families. All “wounded warriors” returning to the west coast from Afghanistan come through the clinic for evaluation as traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have a significant impact on speech and language functioning. The clinic is a top research facility for treating TBI-related speech and language impairments.

Jessica Barlow, 2012 Faculty Monty Recipient

Dr. Jessica Barlow
Dr. Jessica Barlow

Dr. Jessica Barlow was presented with the 2012 Faculty Monty at the All-University Convocation on August 23, 2012. Each year, one outstanding faculty member from each of the university’s colleges is recognized for their outstanding contributions.

Dr. Barlow is a professor and the graduate advisor to the masters program in speech-language pathology, and a member of the faculty of the SDSU/ UCSD joint doctoral program in language and communication disorders. She is a nationally known researcher whose work directly benefits children with language disorders. Her lab has been established for 15 years and aspects of her research have been supported by the National Institutes of Health. She is a well respected researcher, teacher and mentor. Congratulations, Dr. Barlow!