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College of Health and Human Services

a student rides a bike across the Fitch St footbridge

Southern Connecticut State University is one of only 153 universities and colleges around the world to be honored by Exercise is Medicine® for its efforts to create a culture of wellness on campus, achieving the initiative’s gold-level designation. To achieve this recognition, students in Southern’s Exercise Physiology Club teamed with the campus Fitness Center and Health Services to track student physical activity via questionnaires. Health professionals followed up with each student for physical activity and nutrition recommendations. Further, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all questionnaires and interaction were moved to an online format, allowing the club to continue promoting physical activity engagement. These steps garnered SCSU an additional accolade from EIM, the “COVID Conqueror” badge. The Conqueror Badge is a new honor given to campuses that demonstrated creative adaptations to physical activity programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exercise is Medicine® (EIM), an initiative of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), is committed to the belief that physical activity promotes optimal health, is integral in the prevention and treatment of many medical conditions, and should be regularly assessed and included as part of health care. The Exercise is Medicine-On Campus (EIM-OC) recognition describes university campuses that provide movement and physical activity opportunities as part of the daily campus culture for students, faculty, and staff. The “gold” level of recognition means that SCSU has achieved the highest possible level of campus engagement.

“We are thrilled to recognize these campuses’ commitment to make movement a part of daily campus culture and equip students with tools to cultivate lifelong physical activity habits, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Robyn Stuhr, vice president of Exercise is Medicine. “These campus programs are nurturing future leaders who will advance a key tenet of Exercise is Medicine: making physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in health care.”

William Lunn, professor of exercise and sport physiology and nutrition and coordinator of the undergraduate program in exercise and sport science, said, “None of this recognition would be possible without the hard work of our Exercise Physiology student club officers: President Adrian Haughton, Vice President Jane Sherman, Secretary Aysia Comins-Sporbert, and Treasurer Jason Sawicki. Also, I must recognize the collaborative effort of Jessica Scibek, Assistant Director of the Fitness Center, and the guidance of the club faculty advisor, Dr. Robert Axtell. Dr. Axtell shepherded the club through the challenge of a pandemic, yet was still able to promote the initiative of EIM on Southern’s campus.”

Exercise is Medicine gold certification badge

Of the 153 campuses recognized this year, 73 received gold, 59 silver and 21 bronze. All gold, silver, and bronze universities and colleges will be officially recognized in June as part of the 2021 virtual Exercise is Medicine World Congress, held in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine’s Annual Meeting.

EIM-OC launched its recognition program in 2014 to honor campuses for their efforts to create a culture of wellness. Schools earn gold, silver or bronze status based on their activities. Gold-level campuses have created a referral system where campus health care providers assess students’ physical activity and refer students as necessary to a certified fitness professional as part of medical treatment. Silver campuses engage students, faculty and staff in education initiatives and make movement part of the daily campus culture, while bronze-level campuses promote and generate awareness of the health benefits of physical activity. View a complete list of recognized schools and learn more about the EIM-OC program.

About Exercise Is Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) co-launched Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) in 2007 with the American Medical Association. ACSM continues to manage the global health initiative, which seeks to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care, connecting health care with evidence-based physical activity resources for people everywhere of all abilities. Visit www.ExerciseisMedicine.org for additional information.

About the American College of Sports Medicine

The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine. More details at www.acsm.org.

 

A photo of Sharon Misasi beside an image of a hand being bandaged by another hand
Sharon Misasi

Recognizing Sharon Misasi’s Contributions During National Athletic Training Month

by Dr. Gary Morin, chair, Health and Movement Sciences Department; and Diane Nowak, secretary, Health and Movement Sciences Department

As we celebrate athletic training at Southern during this National Athletic Training Month, we would like to recognize Dr. Sharon Misasi and our program advancements under her leadership.

Dr. Misasi is currently a professor in Southern’s Department of Health and Movement Sciences. She returned to her alma mater in 1988 to propel the athletic training program into what was then called a National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) Approved Program. Prior to that date, Southern’s program was considered an internship program but there was an interest in moving toward an accredited program. “Back then there were two routes to become an athletic trainer: an internship program or a NATA Approved Program. We were going from internship to NATA Approval,” remarked Misasi.

At the time, athletic training was still a relatively new profession for women, and the selection of Misasi as the program director was somewhat unique. “There were not many women program directors or Athletic Trainers. My certification number is 497 after becoming certified in 1984.” Misasi elaborated, “In fact, back then Southern still had separate women’s and men’s physical education programs.”

At the time, female athletic trainers were looked at differently. “My journey was interesting as job interviews are often done by athletic directors and coaches who were men. They would include questions about why I wanted to work with male athletes and go into the locker rooms. They didn’t ‘see’ women athletic trainers as medical professionals,” furthered Misasi. “I would educate them and stand firm stating I was a medical professional and treated all athletes regardless of gender identity.”

Misasi and her colleagues, including then Head Athletic Trainer Linda Holbrook, worked tirelessly through the Women’s Physical Education Department to get the courses approved through the process, becoming the first in Connecticut to gain NATA approval in 1990. Since gaining that first NATA approval, the Athletic Training Education Program went through many changes to become the prestigious program it is today.

The divided women’s and men’s departments merged in 1990 and later became the Exercise Science Department. A little over two years ago, with the addition of the Health Science and Respiratory Therapy degree programs, it was renamed the Department of Health and Movement Sciences. The Athletic Training program became accredited first through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) and later Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), and just recently, the program became a master’s degree program offering admission through a traditional master’s degree or through an accelerated BS/MAT offering.

As far as gender equality is concerned, athletic training has changed greatly. After being a distinct minority among the profession, women now make up the majority of members in the National Athletic Trainer’s Association and have attained many of the national professional leadership positions. “Some of our female graduates have made a definite mark in our program either in the form of student leadership positions in the Eastern Athletic Trainers’ Association such as Meaghan Kelley and Dolci Wagner who became the leaders of the EATA’s Student Leadership. Others have gone on to very successful careers such as Janet Simon who is on the faculty at Ohio University and Hannah Berg who is on the staff at Boston College,” according to Dr. Gary Morin, the department chairperson of Health and Movement Sciences and former athletic training program director.

a doctor in a white coat administers a vaccine in the arm of a patient

The CARE (Community Alliance for Research and Engagement) program, based at both the SCSU College of Health and Human Services and the Yale School of Public Health, is using a major CDC grant to advance several community-based initiatives, including promoting the importance of flu vaccinations as a way to ease the burden on health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alycia Santilli is the Director of CARE.

According to CARE’s data, during the 2019-20 flu season in New Haven, more people of color than whites were hospitalized due to the flu: 35 percent of Black and 31 percent of Hispanic residents, compared to 22 percent of white people. This year, with COVID threatening to overwhelm health care facilities, keeping people safe from the flu seems more crucial than ever. So CARE is engaging in outreach within city neighborhoods, with seven newly hired community workers visiting places like food pantries, senior housing, barber shops and hair salons, to talk to residents about the flu vaccine and encourage them to get vaccinated. The New Haven Register recently published an article about CARE’s efforts to calm residents’ fears about vaccines and encourage them to get vaccinated:

“Flu Fighters Combat Vaccination Fears in New Haven”
By Sujata Srinivasan December 16, 2020

 

student Jierah Reid, '22, with VP for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree
Student Jierah Reid, '22, with Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree in the campus food pantry

Southern student Jierah Reid, ’22, was recently named one of 30 randomly selected winners in Sodexo’s “Spread The Joy Sweepstakes” as part of its fall resident dining promotion series. Sodexo is the university’s dining services provider. This national prize sweepstakes focused on the positive things we can spread – like joy to others – giving students across the United States the chance to win one of 30 $500 donations made in their name to their campus food pantry or a local hunger-related charity. This comes at a time when food pantries are deeply in need of donations, given the COVID-19 environment. Reid selected the SCSU Food Pantry as her charity beneficiary. In addition to the donation, Reid will receive a $100 VISA® gift card to spend any way she would like. Reid presented the food pantry with her $500 donation at a recent event held in the food pantry, which is located in the Wintergreen Building.

The SCSU Food Pantry opened October 28, 2020, and 40 dedicated volunteers ran the pantry six days a week during the fall semester. To date, over 1,400 lbs. of food have helped 50 SCSU student shoppers in 132 visits. The food pantry is open over the semester break on Mondays from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and Wednesday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The pantry recently added a baby section of diapers, food, and wipes. There are plans to stock more refrigerated and frozen items to better support the needs of SCSU students.

Reid is a junior at Southern. She is majoring in Healthcare Studies with a concentration in Clinical Research and a minor in Public Health. Reid is an active member of the Southern community; she has been involved in the Residence Hall Association since her freshman year and is currently serving as an RA. Reid is passionate about supporting others and says the SCSU Food Pantry is something she is a huge advocate of. Of the sweepstakes win, Reid said, “I want more students to be able to benefit from the food pantry. My hope is to eliminate the stigma that may be attached to the service and instead have the food pantry embraced as an valuable campus resource. There are so many students who are in need, whether they’re residents or commuters, I want them to see this and know about it. I hope this will raise awareness and build momentum for the SCSU Food Pantry so it can continue to expand its offerings and become something more people are comfortable utilizing.”

Featured at more than 600 Sodexo-managed colleges and universities nationwide, Sodexo’s fall resident dining promotion series featured a number of safe, physically distant events for students in addition to the Spread The Joy Sweepstakes. Two core dining showcase events, #RockTheBlock and Foodie Revolution, celebrated the beautiful outdoor weather and capitalized on the historic 2020 election with themed foods, activities and more.

Sodexo, Inc. (www.sodexoUSA.com), the leading Quality of Life services company in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, delivers On-site Services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government and Remote Site segments, as well as Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Sodexo, Inc., headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD., funds all administrative costs for the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation (HelpStopHunger.org), an independent charitable organization that, since its founding in 1999, has made more than $22 million in grants to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at blogs.sodexousa.com.

This article was written by student Ketia Similen.

Do you have students that are looking for a way to gain valuable and paid on-the-job experience while working in their respective fields? Meet the Cooperative Education Program at Southern. This program allows students to gain employment experiences as part of their undergraduate careers. Students enrolled in this program can reinforce and sharpen their classroom learning while making meaningful contributions in the workplace.

Once enrolled in the Cooperative Education course, students spend a semester employed by an organization, business firm, or a government agency of their choice, in a position that they must secure on their own, in order to apply their academic studies to practical employment situations. Thus students can have a paid work experience while earning up to 12 credits towards their degree. The credits earned will be applied towards students’ programs as electives — 50 hours of work are equal to 1 academic credit. This is a great option for students who may not have the means to take on an unpaid internships. In the co-op program, students who are already employed by an agency can apply their on-the-job experience for credit.

In order to apply, undergraduate students must:

  • be a junior or senior with a minimum 2.0 GPA,
  • must secure an employment experience that closely maps onto their degree, and
  • meet with their academic advisor to discuss cooperative education within their program of study.

Once these steps are completed, students should contact the cooperative education coordinator, Dr. Sobeira Latorre, to discuss eligibility and further details. If the program is a good fit, then students will receive an application to complete and submit by the end of their current semester prior to the beginning of the course.

Once admitted into the course, students will be required to fulfill their employee responsibilities, develop goals for their experience, reflect on and revise their goals as they progress in their experience, meet with the Office of Career and Professional Development to craft or update their resume, and receive an evaluation from their employer on their performance during their experience. This program also allows students to reapply. As long as they haven’t reached the maximum 12 credits that the program allows and they’re performing a new task, completing a new project, or starting a new position, students will be able to continue their cooperative education.

For questions or more information on the Cooperative Education Program, contact the program coordinator, Dr. Latorre, at latorres1@southerct.edu. Students may also send an email to co-op@southernct.edu.

 

Erin Duff

This article was written by student Ketia Similen.

Erin B. Duff is a graduate student in the Master’s in Public Health (MPH) program and Southern’s COVID coordinator. She has always been involved in student affairs and is constantly trying to learn and grow through public health conferences and experiences on campus. Working as a hall director for Chase Hall and the Wellness Center for the past two years has helped Duff in managing her new position. Transitioning into the COVID coordinator role was an evolving experience, as the responsibilities of this position increased over time. Duff takes joy in this position as her new experiences have reinforced her passion for public health while highlighting the importance of it in our society. Duff says, “Every day I know I am helping someone and I think that is the best feeling, whether that is answering a question or making Southern a little bit safer by putting someone in quarantine.”

In addition to contacting those who test positive for COVID-19 or those who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19, Duff speaks to students and staff about health education and how they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe, while clarifying any misconceptions around COVID-19. The most challenging part, Duff says, is that the actions of others cannot be controlled, making control of COVID-19 unpredictable. “Every day is different so I don’t always know what to expect – which is good, as it keeps me on my toes – but also can be overwhelming at times.” As Southern’s COVID Coordinator, Duff meets with the Department of Public Health once or twice a week for updates, while also working closely with other Connecticut schools to discuss the best practices that will help her be more effective in her job at Southern.

Duff is seeing first-hand that Southern students are resilient and committed to their safety and the community’s safety. Southern’s students continue to work hard during this pandemic so they can finish their semester strong, despite all the barriers that they face. “I am hopeful for our future,” Duff says. “I know we all crave a sense of normalcy and to one day go back to the way things were – but to do that everyone needs to play a role. By social distancing, washing hands often, and wearing a mask, that is the best way that we are going to combat this virus and come out stronger.” Duff tells us all, “Do not give up hope! We’ve got this!”

Photo by Prateek Katyal

Written by Dr. Michele Vancour, Interim Associate Dean of the College of Health and Human Services

Work-life balance is as intangible as the Holy Grail.

The idea that the work and non-work parts of our lives can be balanced as static, constant ideals is completely unrealistic, because in reality life is messy, unpredictable, and often overwhelming. As oxymoronic as this perfect storm may be, it’s 100% ours and we need to embrace it rather than spend an exorbitant amount of time and energy trying to compartmentalize and balance.

As a named “work-life expert,” some may be surprised by that opening. I didn’t always buy into this chaotic utopia (and most days, I still struggle with the lack of fair division, uncategorized and unorganized reality that is my life); however, seeing something personal in print a few years ago pushed me into this different way of thinking and being.

An award-winning, New York Times best-selling author and acquaintance asked if she could interview me for an article on the elusiveness of work-life balance from the perspective of work-life experts. As luck would have it, the day of the interview started as one of those mornings. I had to scramble to get my two sons and myself out of the house on time. My youngest son forgot his drums for band practice at home, so I had to run back home and back to school—navigating the bus-lined, impatient-parent-filled parking lot, the school’s new security protocol, and arctic morning temperatures twice—then rushed to the office in time for the reporters’ phone call.  It seemed fortunate at the time that her schedule also was off-track, as she made the call while still on the train commuting to her office. The phone connection was terrible, especially for her recording device, so she asked to call again in the afternoon. I agreed. While more relaxed when the second call came in at 4pm, I was, however, now in transit to my older son’s ice hockey game an hour away and was relying on my car’s navigation support to get me there. Before the official interview began, we shared a moment as I was somewhat joking with her about the day’s unplanned episodes, and how they are so commonplace in many working parents’ lives.

Fast forward now to the date her article hit the Internet. Imagine my surprise as I read the headline: “Even Work-Life Balance Experts Are Awful [emphasis added] at Balancing Work and Life.” I was taken further aback in reading further to find my name and the following:

Consider Michele Vancour, for instance, a professor of public health at Southern Connecticut State University whose area of expertise is how the stress and guilt of work-life conflict can make us sick. Yet she herself gets stressed out by work-life conflict. I spoke with her on a morning when all had gone smoothly until she went to drop her son off at school on her way to work and realized she’d forgotten to put the drums he needed for the day into the car. Her head started to pound. She sighed. “Every time I have to go give a talk, I always say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’” (Schulte, 2017).

I think those who know me would say that I am authentic, and while I embrace this term as germane to my identity, the paragraph above left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. My initial reaction was embarrassment. But, as a tough self-critic, I pondered this statement and my feelings until I realized that this was one of life’s amazing signs or more poignantly a personal call-to-action.

Over the following few months, I invested considerable time in reflection before I was able to pinpoint the lesson I was meant to learn and how I could make changes that would prevent this from reoccurring. I quickly realized that I wasn’t bothered by the fact that balance was elusive after over 15 years of practice as a work-life expert. I also wasn’t upset that I shared my personal story of the day with a reporter. The thing that hit me to my core was the message about life I was sharing with everyone who listened. I am not sure when I adopted the phrase, ”do as I say, not as I do,” but I knew I said it often. I further surmised that it originated from an internal feeling of inadequacy. My research focused on the ideal mother and ideal worker, and as many other parents, internally I felt like I was failing when in my heart I knew differently. Once I was able to get my heart and head in sync, I reframed my story, so that the one I believed in, lived and shared were the same.

Here are five actions that were critical to my progress and feeling of greater work-life balance.

Reflect: Reflection can move us from chaos to action even when we have those days when things don’t meet our expectations. Maybe you spill coffee on your shirt, get stuck in traffic, can’t find a parking space, miss an appointment (or all of above and more). It’s not the sum of things that do not go as planned as much as it is the way in which we react to them. Ask yourself these questions next time this happens to you: How do you feel? What’s wrong? What’s going right? What needs to change? How can you do something different to minimize the impact and add protections so that these emotions and events happen differently next time?

Debunk Perfection: Perfection is an unrealistic ideal; don’t perpetuate it. Move your thoughts from not-good-enough to self-acceptance. Shift your focus. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses and making comparisons to others to focus on your strengths. Reframe your ideal realizing that we need to utilize other people’s strengths and to collaborate to fully achieve goals. No burden should fall only on one person at work or at home. Move away from unrealistic ideations of perfection and pressures to succeed. Focus on life being a journey rather than a destination.

Align Values and Purpose: If we do not prioritize our values (the people and activities that matter most in our lives), we likely will run out of time before tending to them. But, how do we identify our value priorities? Consider these questions:

What do you love (not love) to do? Does time fly by when you are doing that thing or spending time with that person? What drives you? What energizes you? What are you willing to sacrifice to have the thing(s) you love and enjoy the most? Who do you want to help? How do you want to help? You need to try it out and be willing to reflect, revise and try again.

Rebrand: You are the author of your story. Try asking yourself, how can you change your narrative? What is your message? What do you want people to remember about you from your story? You can revise your story as many times as you need to. Be self-accepting and focus on small successes that have shaped you along your journey.

Control: Small wins equal BIG change, especially when we have prioritized ourselves in the process. If we are not able to function at full capacity, the risks are greater to finding success in all of our relationships, activities and goals. If you feel like you do not have enough time in your schedule, then you may need to add boundary setting to your time management plans. Schedule uninterrupted time for dinner, fitness, meditation, reflection, and sleep. Setting boundaries allows us to be present in activities that help recharge us physically, mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. By setting priorities around values, it makes it easier to achieve goals. If you’re like me, you may need to be selective with the things you say yes to, schedule specific time to ”work” on tasks, and avoid emailing colleagues after 6pm and on the weekends to stay on track.

Finally, start a gratitude practice. According to Psychologytoday.com, being grateful has been connected to improved sleep and self-esteem, greater empathy, reduced aggression, increased connectedness, and better overall health. A great way to start is to let someone know you’re thankful for them. By the way, I am really grateful that you let me share this with you today. If you’re interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out to me.

Faculty, staff and students watch as the ceremonial final beam is put in place on the new College of Health and Human Services building.

The final steel beam for Southern’s new home for the College of Health and Human Services building was swung up and into the building’s structure on October 23, as part of a “topping off” ceremony on campus.

Scheduled for completion in fall 2021, the building will provide greatly enhanced, research and experiential learning opportunities for students and faculty in the health-related fields.

Healthcare today is fully integrated – for example, recreation therapists, nurses, and speech language pathologists work side-by-side to provide to provide essential services to their patients,” said President Joe Bertolino. “ It is vital that our health and human services programs share a common facility where they can interact and communicate.”

By producing more graduates with much-needed expertise in these fields, Southern will continue to be a key player in Connecticut’s economic revival, Bertolino said.

The final beam is moved into place.

The new building will also serve as resource for the off-campus community, through expanded speech therapy and hearing clinics, human performance lab and our center for adaptive sport and inclusive recreation – all of which will be free and open to the public.

As part of the ceremony, members of the Southern community signed the beam before it was lifted skyward. The beam carried with it a small fir tree, a nod to a contractor’s tradition begun years ago by Scandinavians who believed their gods lived in trees. Today, adding a tree is a nod to sturdy and lasting craftsmanship and a symbol of good luck to the owner

In his comments, Bertolino said that the completion of the new building’s framework also symbolized that “the beating heart of Southern is alive and well.”

“That despite the challenges we face, our teaching, our work, our services in support of our students continue to move ahead,” Bertolino said. “And that one day soon we will emerge from this pandemic stronger, more versatile and more innovative than we were before.”

College of Health and Human Services Dean Sandra Bulmer, far right, front, and members of the CHHS faculty

Artist's rendering of the new College of Health and Human Services building, scheduled to be completed by fall 2021

The College of Health & Human Services welcomes our nine new tenure-track faculty members! Read about them below:

Susan Burger, PhD, RN, CNE, is an associate professor in the Department of Nursing with more than 30 years of nursing experience. Her clinical expertise is in Community-Public Health Nursing and Maternal-Child Health Nursing. Dr. Burger is an active researcher and presenter. Her program of research focuses on reducing re-hospitalization among chronically ill individuals through more effective self-management.

Susan Burger

Anuli Njoku, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Public Health. Her research and teaching specialties include cultural competency in higher education, health disparities, health promotion and education, rural health, and environmental health equity. She has extensive experience developing and teaching university courses and publishing about health disparities.

Anuli Njoku

Karen D’Angelo, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work, specializing in community practice and community-engaged research. Her scholarship focuses on community-driven solutions to health inequities. Previously on the faculty at the University of Illinois Chicago, Dr. D’Angelo is excited to return to Connecticut in order to be closer to her long-term research partners, her family, and the world’s best pizza.

Karen D’Angelo

Jillian McNiff Villemaire, Ed.D., is an associate professor of sport management in the Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management. Dr. McNiff Villemaire has been teaching sports management full-time since 2011 and before that worked in marketing for Boston University’s Fitness and Recreation Center and in marketing and corporate sponsorships for the New England Patriots, New England Revolution, and Gillette Stadium. Her research primarily focuses on sports management graduates’ career outcomes and sport management education. She presented in September 2020 to the European Sport Management Association on creating opportunities where everyone can succeed in a sports management classroom.

Jillian McNiff Villemaire

Joshua Knickerbocker, PhD, earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing at SCSU in 2006. Dr. Knickerbocker worked as a registered nurse in pediatric emergency, adult emergency, and flight nursing. He obtained his MBA from SCSU in 2011 and worked at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, Quality and Safety Department. In 2018, he graduated from Quinnipiac University with a doctoral degree in nursing and has been practicing in emergency medicine as a nurse practitioner ever since.

Joshua Knickerbocker

Michele Griswold, PhD, MPH, RN, IBCLC, has a background in maternal-child and pediatric nursing and is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. She has led statewide and global policy and advocacy efforts targeting equitable access to breastfeeding and lactation care as well as family-friendly policies. Dr. Griswold’s research interests involve the identification of unjust social barriers to breastfeeding and understanding how implicit biases of health care professionals contribute to poor health outcomes for marginalized populations.

Michele Griswold

Joanne F. Roy, PhD, RN-BC CNL, has been a nursing professional for over 39 years, earning a PhD in nursing from the University of Rhode Island, an MSN from the University of Connecticut, and a BSN from Western Connecticut State University.  Dr. Roy holds two specialty certifications as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist (RN-BC) and Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), and has held numerous nurse educator/leader positions in practice and academic settings. Dr. Roy’s expertise resides in evidence-based practice, nursing leadership; and theoretical foundations and transitions within professional nursing practice roles.

Joanne F. Roy

Svenja Gusewski, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders Department. Dr. Gusewki’s research focuses on bilingual language and literacy development. As a multilingual speech-language-pathologist, she has provided clinical services in Germany, Spain, and the U.S. She is excited about connecting teaching, research, and clinical training at Southern. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her husband, Dylan, and their two dogs, Archie and Samson.

Svenja Gusewski

Kelly Coleman, PhD, is a nationally certified athletic trainer and a licensed athletic trainer in Connecticut, with over 10 years of clinical experience providing athletic training services at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. She is active in professional organizations at the national, regional, and local levels, with teaching experience at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Coleman’s research interests include academic and clinical leadership of athletic trainers as well as promoting access to appropriate medical care for athletes of all ages.

Kelly Coleman

Before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our lives and introduced us to distant learning, students looked forward to the learning experiences they found on campus. Interviews with a few students and professors from the College of Health & Human Services suggests that they are adjusting well to remote learning. Although it is nice not to have a commute to campus for classes or struggle to find a parking spot, to walk across campus in the rain, or wait in long lines for coffee, students do miss many of the in-person experiences of university life. Some students feel that it’s not the same and really miss the in-person learning experience. Being completely online can be a bit difficult and some students fear that they are not absorbing the information as much, compared to previous courses that they took in person. However, students find themselves adjusting to the situation and find that Southern is doing a phenomenal job in assisting students to get the most out of distance learning. Professors are even becoming more comfortable with the technology to help create a supportive environment for their students.

Students miss participating in on-campus events and enjoying the beautiful sights of the campus and nature that is around us. Those little walks from one building to another when the weather was nice was something that many appreciated. Students would run into familiar faces around campus and interact with people in between their classes or on their way home. Now students are finding new creative ways to stay connected with each other, enjoying new activities, and discovering new talents about themselves. It really helps to remain positive and to find a routine that works for you. Students have found that going on walks and setting up weekly FaceTime or Zoom calls helps them from socially distancing themselves completely and losing hope in our current situation.

Despite the new changes, students are working smarter this semester and finding new ways to manage their workload. Public Health senior Annie Ricupero shared, “I have found that making short to-do lists for myself for each week helps me to stay organized and on top of my school-work without feeling too overwhelmed.” By planning ahead and keeping track of due dates on assignments, and setting up a quiet designated work area, students are able to stay focused without being too hard on themselves.

Though many students miss being able to utilize Buley Library and all the in-person resources it has to offer, they are creating new routines at home and taking advantage of the library’s online resources, the Academic Success Center, and the other facilities. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of the virtual office hours for your professors. They are easy to access, and students finding the accessibility to be helpful, as they can still receive the one-on-one help they seek on assignments. Professors are doing their best to accommodate their students and helping students feel adjusted to their classes. Communication Disorders senior Annie Prusak said, “I always like to introduce myself to professors when I first meet them, and while I was able to do it this semester over Zoom, it isn’t quite the same as shaking someone’s hand.” You build a stronger connection with not just the professor but with classmates as well, as the first couple of minutes coming into the classroom enables students to create conversations with their peers.

Many students are finding it easy to follow the safety protocols – wearing a face mask, washing their hands, and using hand sanitizer – both on and off campus. Students mainly find themselves at home unless they need to go to work, classes, or grocery shopping. Though many students do not have access to campus, they find that Southern is doing a great job announcing what services are available to students and when and what events are being held, whether on campus or virtually. Professor Joseph Milone of the Recreation, Tourism, & Sports Management Department said, “staying connected can be as simple as reaching out to classmates to set up a study session or just talk. Reach out, get involved, and stay connected in some capacity.”

Though it is easy to feel isolated when classes are online, it’s important to think about your mental health. Students find that talking to a therapist every week has helped them work through their thoughts and feelings. You should also continue to strengthen your physical connections with your family members and peers as they are a great support system to have. Milone commented, “one tip to manage stress, which applies to everyone, is to step away from the computer when needed. Take a walk, get some fresh air, set up a chair outside to watch the birds, and get away from it all for a few minutes. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to rethink how we engage with outdoor spaces”. Overall, students are feeling lucky to be able to continue their learning from a safe environment where they can still get the help that they need and require, making this transition a better experience.