School of Health & Human Services

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.

A dedicated scholar of the poetry and art of William Blake and a researcher studying medieval cartography will be presented with the 2019-20 SCSU Faculty Scholar awards at a Virtual Celebration of Excellence that will premiere on Nov. 5 at noon on Facebook Live. Anthony Rosso and Camille Serchuk, respectively, were chosen for their academic and creative work of exceptional merit and will each receive a cash prize of $2,500.

Anthony Rosso, professor of English, teaches courses in the British Eighteenth Century, the Romantic Era, the English Epic, the English Novel to 1900, Literature of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, a Seminar in William Blake, an Introduction to British Literature 1800-Present, and all levels of Composition. An avid scholar of Blake, Rosso has published numerous lectures and conference papers, reviews, and essays, as well as three books, Blake’s Prophetic Workshop: A Study of ‘The Four Zoas’ (1993); Blake, Politics, and History, co-edited with Christopher Z. Hobson and Jackie DiSalvo (1998); and The Religion of Empire: Political Theology in Blake’s Prophetic Symbolism (2016).

Rosso’s newest book, The Religion of Empire, specifically was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its “precision of writing,” “thorough and comprehensive quality of research,” and “important contribution the book makes to the study of Blake’s later works.” The book, which is the first monograph in the history of Blake criticism to analyze three major poems in one study, has been enthusiastically received within and beyond Rosso’s field of Blake studies. Aimed at reaching audiences in contemporary biblical, gender, and empire/post-colonial studies, the book draws on Rosso’s writings about Blake published over the last 30 years, in essence, a culmination of a lifetime of research.

In Sibylle Erle’s review in the British Association of Romantic Studies, she noted that Rosso has achieved a “beautifully written, very confident and accessible book.” Other reviewers called the book “an unparalleled ability to communicate complex readings and meanings lucidly” and “a significant, indeed landmark, contribution to Blake studies in particular and the evolution of political theology.”

Camille Serchuk, professor of Art History and assistant director of the Honors College at Southern Connecticut State University, teaches courses that focus on the art of the Middle Ages, gender and Art, and the methodology and historiography of art history. Her exhibition/catalogue “Quand les artistes dessinaient les cartes: vues et figures de l’espace français, Moyen Âge et Renaissance” was recognized by the Faculty Scholar Award committee for its interdisciplinary nature, academic merit, and public impact. Serchuk further was lauded for the project’s “colossal effort” and “prestigious setting.” Even more, the language in the exhibition texts was “evocative yet precise” and “very fun to read.”

Serchuk is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities, the National Humanities Center and the Newberry and Huntington Libraries. In addition to being an impassioned researcher of art and cartography in France, 1400-1600, Serchuk has published several journal articles, book chapters and reviews; she’s also been the recipient or more than a dozen scholarly grants.

Additional awardees who will be recognized at the Virtual Celebration of Excellence are:

· Joan Finn Jr. Faculty Research Fellowship: Steven Bray (Biology), Rachel Furey (English)

· Mid-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Kelly Stiver (Psychology)

· Senior-Level Faculty Research Fellowship: Armen Marsoobian (Philosophy)

· Robert Jirsa Service Award: Susan Cusato (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award: Carrie Michalski (Nursing)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (F/T): Elliott Horch (Physics)

· J. Philip Smith Award for Outstanding Teaching (P/T): Carolyn Thompson (Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences)

· BOR Teaching Award: Thomas Radice (History)

· BOR Adjunct Faculty Teaching Award: Shelley Stoehr-McCarthy (English)

· BOR Research Award: Steven Brady (Biology)

· Million Dollar Club: Kathleen De Oliveira (Academic Success Center)

· Undergraduate Research Assistants – Faculty Award Grant: Amy Smoyer (Social Work)

· Mensa – Distinguished Teaching Award: Kenneth Walters (Psychology)

· CSU Professor: Elliott Horch (Physics)

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

Top row: Joshua Groffman, Al Seesi Sahar, Patty Bode, Marcell Graziano, Sujatha Herne; middle: Anuli Njoku, Svenja Gusewski; bottom: Melanie Uribe, Joshua Knickerbocker, Hanyong Chung, Kelly Coleman, Lauren Tucker

As society continues to grapple with subjects related to health, equity and the environment, Southern has opted to hire more than a quarter of its 31 new tenure-track faculty in clusters related to those real-world topics.

Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs, recently announced that small groups of faculty have been hired to form three academic clusters – healthcare informatics; climate change, resilience and the blue economy; and equity, social mobility and access.

“These areas represent strong interdisciplinary approaches in fields that are growing, have great relevance to today’s world, and have strong employment opportunities for our students,” Prezant said.

“They also represent areas already strongly represented on our campus allowing for a compounding of our disciplinary power, enhancement of our potential curriculum and scholarship, and wonderful opportunities for external partnerships.”

The initiative is also designed to create synergy for faculty research. Each cluster is represented by faculty from at least two or three academic disciplines and at least two of Southern’s colleges.

“Bringing in a team of faculty members whose disciplinary and scholarly interests overlap creates an instantaneous set of collaborators,” he said.

“All too often new faculty members are hired and they must search out or work with current faculty and administrators to find those relevant partners. This saves the effort of new faculty searching for disciplinary partners and instantaneously creates enhanced areas of disciplinary excellence.”

Prezant explained the selection of these three topical clusters was made from nine proposals across the campus. “The selection of the final three was difficult and made after lively discussions and debates by members of the Provost’s Council.”

Jean Breny — chairwoman of the Public Health Department who played a key role in the creation of the equity, social mobility, and access cluster — said she is excited about the opportunities being afforded to students.

“We know that our students today are passionate about making a difference in the world and in the communities they live,” Breny said. “We see this in the topics they choose for papers and internship placements, and their increased engagement in political and social issues…Because this is an area where data collection and analysis have proven very fruitful, students will gain hands-on experience with data issues adding to their marketable skills at graduation.”

New faculty members selected for one of the clusters include:

  • Climate change, resilience and the blue economy: Amanda Bertana, sociology; Marcello Graziano, management; Miriah Kelly, environment, geography and marine sciences.
  • Equity, social mobility and access:  Karen D’Angelo, social work; Anuli Njoku, public health; and Adam Pittman, sociology.
  • Healthcare Informatics: Sahar Al-Seesi, computer science; Andy Bartlett, Mathematics

Other new tenure-track faculty members include:

  • Punit Anand, finance. Research interests include asset pricing and investments, as well as corporate finance.
  • Patricia Bode, art. Research interests include multicultural education, postmodern perspectives in art education, and the importance of art education in society.
  • Jennifer Cooper Boemmels, earth science. Research interests include post-rift structural evolution of the Vermont and New York portion of the New England-Quebec Igneous Province.
  • Susan Burger, nursing.  Research interests include health promotion and use of telehealth to manage chronic illnesses.
  • Dana Casetti, physics. Research interests include astronomy and astrophysics.
  • Shi Biao (William) Ding, marketing. Research interests include factors shaping gift giving.
  • Qu Chen, counseling and school psychology. Research interests include factors related to empathy.
  • Hanyong Chung, accounting. Research interests include financial reporting and corporate governance.
  • Kelly Coleman, health and movement services. Research interests include athletic training in secondary schools, and doctoral education in athletic training.
  • Denver Fowler, educational leadership. Research interests include ethical leadership among school leaders.
  • Michele Griswold, public health. Interests and research are in the area of social inequities and structural barriers surrounding infant feeding and maternal child health.
  • Joshua Groffman, music. Research interests include environmental communication through music and sound.
  • Svenja Gusewski, communication disorders. Research interests include language and literacy development of young Spanish-English dual language learners, and culturally sensitive intervention methods for culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
  • Joshua Knickerbocker, nursing. Experience includes instructing pediatric advanced life support simulation at Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.
  • Atul Kulkarni, marketing. Research interests include digital marketing and analytics, and sales promotions.
  • Nicole McGowen Madu, curriculum and learning. (January hire)
  • A. Casey McPherson, counseling and school psychology. Research interests include mental health in rural America, and improving training practices of early-career faculty.
  • Joanne Roy, nursing. Background in nursing leadership and professional development.
  • Anastasia Sorokina, world languages and literatures. Research interests include bilingualism’s effect on autobiographical memory, and liberal vs. conservative media coverage of Crimean crisis of 2014.
  • Lauren Tucker, special education. Research interests include assistive technology in education, and the use of Twitter by teachers.
  • Melanie Uribe, art and design. Research interests include migrant identity and acculturation (refuges/displaced), exhibition design and installations as medium for effective communication, experimental design and book arts.
  • Jillian McNiff Villemaire, recreation, tourism and sport management. Research interests include career decisions among sport management students, and transferable skills for student-athletes.
  • Alice Wieland, management/international business. Research interests include gender and decision making in the business world.

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.

Susan Burger
Susan Burger

The proliferation of COVID-19 has sparked a major increase in the use of telehealth appointments in an effort to reduce the chances of spreading the disease.

Some in-person medical visits are necessary even during times when the number of coronavirus infections is high. Other appointments can safely be postponed. But many of those important, non-emergency needs have been met through the use of telemedicine.

Susan Burger, associate professor of nursing who had done considerable research on telehealth before the pandemic, recently discussed the pros and cons of telehealth during an interview on Channel 30 (NBC Connecticut).

 

Barbara Aronson

A grant award recently secured by Nursing Professor Barbara Aronson will support nursing students by authorizing cancellation of a percentage of educational loans in exchange for full-time post-graduation employment as nurse faculty.

The federal funds, totaling almost $1 million, are welcome assistance, given the critical nursing educator needs in Connecticut and nationwide.

“There’s a huge nursing faculty shortage nationally,” Aronson said. “First, nurses can make more money in a clinical area. Second, faculty are aging.”

Aronson, the director of the Ed.D. program in the Department of Nursing at Southern Connecticut State University, has secured substantial grant funding over the years from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The most recent award, $891,374 from the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP), is the largest the department has ever received and brings Aronson’s total to more than $3 million.

“The first grant I wrote was in 2012,” Aronson said. “That first year, we only got a minimal amount, but we didn’t have as many students as we do today.” (The program has since grown to about 50 students.)

The Ed.D. in Nursing Education is a collaborative program between Southern and Western Connecticut State University (WCSU). Designed for individuals with clinical expertise and a master’s degree in nursing, it is an innovative doctoral program that prepares nurses for faculty roles by focusing on the content and skills required to be effective faculty members, advance the science of nursing education, and transform the education of future nurses. Current students in the program are family, pediatric, geriatric nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and faculty who plan to teach in undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral-level programs. Students at Western will receive a share of the funds.

According to HRSA, “Aging and population growth are projected to account for the 81% of the change in demand for primary care services between 2010 and 2020.” And a Special Survey on Vacant Faculty Positions released by American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) reported that in 2018, a total of 1,715 faculty vacancies were identified in a survey of 872 nursing schools with baccalaureate and/or graduate programs across the country. Most of the vacancies (90.7 percent) were faculty positions preferring a doctoral degree.

“It is hoped that our program will have a lasting impact on the faculty shortage by preparing the next generation of nurse educators,” Aronson said. “They will fill faculty positions in Connecticut, the northeast and nationwide and will also contribute to the advancement of the science of nursing education.”

Aronson was a staff nurse for many years before she decided she wanted to teach. After earning advanced degrees in nursing education, she began working at Southern; she has worked in the Nursing Department for 20 years, has run the undergraduate program for seven years and directed the Ed.D. program since 2012.

“I have a lot of experience in nursing and nursing education,” she said. “Technology, the push for student-centered learning strategies, and COVID-19 have changed the way we teach, and we are preparing our students to meet these challenges. At Southern, nurses love the program because they interact with other students who share the same interests.”

Aronson earned her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, her MSN from the University of Hartford, her BSN from Saint Joseph College, and her diploma from Hartford Hospital School of Nursing. She has more than 30 years of experience in nursing education in the acute care and academic settings.