COVID-19 crisis presents opportunity to serve community for UIndy student

Amy Rohr '20 (public health) '21 (master of public health)

Amy Rohr ’20 (public health) ’21 (master of public health)

Many University of Indianapolis faculty and students are contributing their time and expertise in the fight to stop coronavirus (COVID-19). Amy Rohr, who graduates in May 2020 with a degree in public health, is also working towards her master of public health, which she will receive in 2021. Rohr has gained hands-on experience during the program through various internships, including the Indiana State Department of Health’s (ISDH) COVID-19 Call Center, where she answers questions from the general public as well as healthcare providers.

“The general public is mostly calling in and requesting information or wondering if they can be tested. We also answer general public calls that are just needing assistance on resources, such as the Critical Industry Line, Unemployment, 2-1-1, and the OSHA Compliance Line. The healthcare providers call in for many different reasons such as guidance on protocols or authorization requests to give the COVID-19 test,” Rohr explained.

“It has been interesting to watch how the calls change each week. I have been working at the call center since the beginning of March and each day there is something new. We get updates nearly every day on protocols, testing, results and recommendations. It seems like a turbulent situation, but I knew what I was stepping into. The field of public health is always changing and that is what I love most about it,” she said.

One of the key components of the public health program at the University of Indianapolis is applied and experiential learning. Rohr’s work at the call center has sharpened her focus on the value of sharing accurate medical information with the public.

“My view on the importance of proper health communication has definitely heightened from this situation. I find it very interesting to see where the callers are getting their information. To me, the information has been pushed by the media, but unfortunately, that is not always appropriate or accurate. In order to be an effective health educator/communicator in the call center, I ensure that I am staying calm, giving evidence-based information, and listening to the individual’s concerns and questions,” she said.

For Rohr, it’s an opportunity to give back to the community and put the University motto, “Education for Service,” into action.

“I have genuinely loved helping the public during this time of crisis,” Rohr said. “Of course, I love all things public health, but helping others is very important to me. I always try to remember that these individuals are scared and worried during this time and some just need someone to talk to. If I can be that person for them, even for five minutes, I feel that I am doing my job.”

Rohr is grateful for the mentorship of faculty including Heidi Hancher-Rauch, director of the Public Health Program at the University of Indianapolis.

“Dr. Rauch has gone above and beyond as a mentor. She is a professional that I look up to as a role model. She has helped me develop my love for policy and advocacy, which is what I want to work in in the future,” Rohr said.

Rauch commended Rohr, who serves as president of the honorary society, Eta Sigma Gamma.

“Amy provides amazing leadership within the Public Health Program and for the ESG members, in particular. She consistently brings great ideas forward to share with others,” Rauch said.

Rohr has completed a number of volunteer internship experiences, including the Southside Quality of Life Initiative where she examined the eight SoIndy neighborhoods using GI mapping, using the information to create and analyze maps of recreational areas and how they relate to public health. She also interned with the Indiana Youth Services Association of Indiana in their Trafficked Victims Assistance Program where she created an onboarding tool for new volunteers, helped with advocacy and awareness events, and created documents used for administrative purposes.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Rohr was interning with the ISDH’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation department, where she compiled and analyzed data, helped with policy and advocacy efforts, organized datasheets, and created fact sheets. Rohr also serves as a Health and Wellness Educator for the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis and a Community Health Advocate for Community East Hospital.

After completing her MPH degree, Rohr plans to work in public health policy and advocacy, and hopes to pursue a law degree in the long-term.

I have nothing but great things to say about the Public Health program. Not only are we getting practical experience and quality instruction, but this program is also like another family to me,” Rohr said. “The hands-on experiences and courses are definitely prepared for the next steps in my career.”

Learn more about the Public Health Program at the University of Indianapolis.

 

Changing lives through occupational therapy advocacy

Kelsey LeMond '20 (OTD)

Kelsey LeMond ’20 (OTD)

Kelsey LeMond will graduate in May 2020 with a doctorate in occupational therapy. Her doctoral capstone work at Public Advocates in Community Re-Entry (PACE) truly represents the University of Indianapolis motto, “Education for Service.” The nonprofit organization provides a variety of services to incarcerated and previously incarcerated individuals and their families to lead productive and responsible lives in their community. LeMond created life skills group sessions for participants and has been featured twice in regional newscasts to discuss her work.

PACE does not offer occupational therapy (OT) services, therefore my focus was to advocate the role of OT in a community mental health setting and create and lead a life skills group called Making Meaningful Meals,” LeMond explained. “The goals and outcomes for this life skills group focused on facilitating a healthy social environment through meal preparation, opportunities for learning and application of knowledge, and increasing overall health and wellness.”

Through her consultation services for PACE, LeMond gained valuable skills in communicating effectively as part of a team as she educated staff on the role of occupational therapy. 

“Facilitating the Making Meaningful Meals life skills group has enhanced my ability to provide verbal feedback and cues for social participation, engaging clients in meaningful activities, and assisting individuals with positive peer connection and recovery,” LeMond said.

To continue her work with PACE, LeMond is working on applying for local grants in order to provide part-time OT services. “Our community has impacted me greatly. I only want to give back what I can and remain a member of the PACE family.”

She learned two important lessons in the process: “There is no recovery if there is no community to support the individual’s recovery journey and second, OT has the ability to provide individuals with guidance, hope and empowerment through advocating for the individual’s occupational justice.”

LeMond credits her success in the program in part due to mentors such as Beth Ann Walker, associate professor of occupational therapy and Taylor McGann, assistant professor of occupational therapy.

Professor Walker is one of the most dedicated, enthusiastic, supportive and passionate professors I have had the pleasure of learning from. I consider her a role model and hope to embody her passion, ethicality and spirit with my own occupational therapy clients,” LeMond said.

“Professor McGann has challenged me intellectually, professionally and personally. No question is ever considered inconsequential, and she takes the time to check in on her students. Her genuine attitude and positivity have influenced my capacity for developing a growth mindset. I would consider both Dr. Walker and Dr. McGann ethical colleagues and close friends.”

“The School of Occupational Therapy prides itself on creating a strong foundation for students through integrated hands-on experience with faculty,” LeMond added. “Many of our faculty have an open-door policy allowing students to feel comfortable and supported during the challenges of graduate school.”

LeMond appreciates the opportunities the program has created for her to collaborate with various community partners.

I love how passionate UIndy is about serving their beloved community. It truly takes a community to grow a person both in body, mind, and spirit and I am thankful for the UIndy community for  supporting me.”

LeMond completed her level II fieldwork at Community Rehabilitation Hospital North in the brain injury unit. She wants to thank her fieldwork educator, Judy Trout, for being an amazing mentor, facilitator, role model and friend. LeMond also completed her second level II fieldwork at Cape Fear Valley Health in the adult neurological outpatient center under Sara Warren. She would also like to thank Sara for her directive leadership, support, and encouragement through fieldwork and will remain a mentor and friend for life.

After taking the boards to become a registered occupational therapy (OTR), she plans to apply for a job with Community Health Network. She will continue to participate in the American and Indiana Occupational Therapy Associations, where she advocates for the benefits of occupational therapy.

Learn more about the occupational therapy program at the University of Indianapolis.

 

Art & Design faculty adapt amidst COVID-19 challenges

Art and Design mini supply kit - COVID 19

You can do a lot with a little. That was the perspective Katherine Fries had as she migrated printmaking classes to an online format during the COVID-19 pandemic. The circumstances were less than ideal, but, she decided, it was a perfect opportunity to instill in her students adaptability, improvisation, problem-solving, and creativity – valuable skills that will translate beyond their education at the University of Indianapolis. Afterall, Fries pointed out, what student leaves their undergraduate career able to afford a fully stocked art studio? 

“Printmaking at its core is paper, pressure, and some kind of ink. We can create stencils and stamps from pretty much anything,” said Fries. 

Fries collaborated with colleagues from around the country to identify ways students could continue engaging the creative process using affordable supplies they’d likely have at home. The content of each class remains the same, but the projects were adapted for functionality. Plans for a complicated carving now involve scissors and foam material, for example. And instead of touring the National Library Bindery Company of Indiana, she’s created online tutorials for a bookbinding project using a needle and thread. 

Because many students left their personal supplies on campus during spring break, she also shipped about 25 miniature art kits to students for projects during the last four weeks of the semester. 

“This is not the ideal situation, but we’re doing our best to make these classes meaningful for students even though we can’t be together,” Fries said.

Related: School of Occupational Therapy employs creativity in time of pandemic

Making the most of makerspaces

professors use makerspace

When John Kuykendall began his tenure as the dean of the University of Indianapolis School of Education, the idea of housing a makerspace on campus had been in development for several years. Launching the School of Education makerspace would become one of Kuykendall’s priorities during his first year. 

The School of Education makerspace was inspired by the notion that today’s teachers must have the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare PK-12 students for an innovation-driven economy. Makerspaces compel teachers to deliver content through “learning by doing,” immersing students in real-world projects that foster deep learning and understanding. A makerspace is a space where students can gather to create, invent and learn. Education makerspaces are housed on campus and allow people to share resources and collaborate and allow teachers to provide a “lab” where they can apply the lessons that are already occurring within the classroom. They combine education with a “do it yourself” strategy.

Last fall, the School of Education’s makerspace began operation, with programming that largely focuses on STEM fields, but is available to use in any way that professors and students can find to fit the curriculum. Ultimately the makerspace will help equip teachers with new skill sets that enable complex thinking, problem-solving, designing, collaborating, communicating and creating for today’s 21st-century student. 

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“It was a connected effort within the University to get all this done,” Kuykendall said. He noted the efforts of Deb Sachs, assistant professor of education, who helped coordinate funding from a STEM education grant.

The University’s makerspace was aided in design by Indianapolis-based 1stMakerSpace, which builds and sustains in-school makerspaces. They partner with school districts to provide students with standards-based hands-on learning experiences to complement classroom learning strategies. The goal of these makerspaces is to inspire an authentic, rigorous and motivational environment by fostering creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

“1stMakerSpace challenged us to come up with ideas how the makerspace could be used in all of the courses that we teach,” Kuykendall said. “We don’t want to pigeonhole the faculty and think that the pedagogy has to be centered around the sciences. As more faculty learn how to use it, they can begin to use it more and more often for a variety of lessons.” 

The makerspace provides an added educational layer where students can actually manipulate a problem with their hands and eyes rather than only trying to visualize a solution. 

“We’re very excited about it. It will allow students to see, apply and practice what they’re learning,” Kuykendall said. “There’s often more than one way to solve a problem. Makerspaces allow the open creativity to do that. They allow for more communication and can become collaborative pieces of learning.”

professors use makerspace

Kuykendall said housing a makerspace within the School of Education puts UIndy “ahead of the game” in offering students more resources to be successful should they end up in a school system that utilizes makerspaces.

Even though the makerspace on campus is still in its beginning stages, Kuykendall is already focused on ways in which the program will grow. “We want to continue to develop it year after year and keep growing the tools inside the space,” he said, “As more students and faculty use it that will help us envision how it will grow.” Kuykendall also envisions hosting workshops and professional development opportunities for local schools.

“Ultimately, we want programming that will help our students to interact with their future students,” he said.

Inquiries about the availability of the makerspace can be directed to School of Education Graduate Programs Administrative Assistant Rhonda Helterbrand (helterbrandr@uindy.edu) who is in charge of the scheduling and organization and management of the makerspace.

Beethoven’s birthday celebration sparks UIndy Art & Design creativity

A familiar face is on display at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis, thanks to the hard work and collaboration of University of Indianapolis faculty and students. The Department of Art & Design was invited to create a hanging sculpture for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s 2020 Beethoven Series.

The work of art was constructed in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday and the ISO’s accompanying yearlong concert series, featuring his major works and newly commissioned pieces. UIndy’s Art & Design department was recommended to the ISO by Laura Irmer ’06 (liberal studies) ’08 (M.A., English), a member of their staff who also teaches as an adjunct in the Department of English and the piece was designed and installed by James Viewegh, professor and department chair, and assistant professors Nathaniel Foley and Katherine Fries. They were given complete artistic freedom and chose to use a well-known portrait of Beethoven for the inspiration behind the sculpture.

Viewegh viewed the project as “a great opportunity for UIndy and the Department of Art & Design to partner with community organizations to create unique works of art for the public.” He went on to state that “projects like this provide Art & Design a venue to demonstrate the creative talent of our faculty and students and the community partner with cool artwork.”

This artwork adds to the Department of Art & Design’s portfolio of collaborations that extend the University’s impact on the city’s lively art scene. The River Fish sculpture, also constructed by Viewegh and Foley, these projects showcase  the ways UIndy faculty and students are teaming up with the surrounding community to make a difference and celebrate Indianapolis through art and design.

UIndy faculty member treats “So You Think You Can Dance” performers

Salamh_SYTYCD2019

When the stars of So You Think You Can Dance Live rolled into Indianapolis last week, UIndy’s Dr. Paul Salamh, assistant professor in the Krannert School of Physical Therapy, was waiting for them. No, he’s not a SYTYCD super-fan. Salamh was onsite as a healthcare professional, available to treat any injuries the dancers came in with.

“The performers do multiple shows a week, so they often come in with injuries or even just “maintenance” needs,” said Salamh, who has been the go-to physical therapist for the tour stop in Indianapolis for three years. “But its show business and the show must go on.”

He was recruited for the role by the show’s manager who learned about Salamh’s previous work with athletes. At the Old National Center where the show was held, each year Salamh is given a large dressing room so he has space to treat the dancers. He brings along any supplies he thinks he might need. In order to prepare, the show’s manager gives him a heads up of what to expect a few days before the cast and crew arrive in Indianapolis.

“The day of the show, the lead dancer usually briefs me about what’s going on with everyone,” Salamh said. “Sometimes they are reluctant to come in for treatment, but usually the lead dancer encourages them.”

He spends up to five hours treating members of the 10-person cast. This year’s cast included Season 16’s Top 10 including Anna Linstruth, Benjamin Castro, Bailey Munoz, Eddie Hoyt, Ezra Sosa, Gino Cosculluela, Madison Jordan, Mariah Russell, Sophie Pittman and Stephanie Sosa plus All-Stars Cyrus Spencer and Lauren Froderman.

Before being contacted by the SYTYCD team, Salamh had never actually seen the show. However, since then he does admit to following the show a little more closely, “but don’t tell anyone,” he laughed.

Savannah Phipps ’21 (biology) presents at ESA conference

Savannah Phipps ’21 (biology) recently gave an oral presentation of her research at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting in Louisville, KY.  ESA is the largest and most prominent disciplinary society of ecology, the study of the interactions of organisms with each other and their environments.  The ESA annual meeting hosts 5000-6000 attendees each year mostly from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and various countries of South America, Europe, and Asia.
The research study sought to determine if differences in ploidy (i.e., the number of genome copies in their cells) between individuals of Claytonia virginica (spring beauty) caused differences in phenotype and reproduction.  Diploid individuals (with two genome copies per cell) were smaller in leaf and flower measures but had greater reproduction than triploid individuals (with three genome copies per cell).  No individuals of hybrid ploidy, which theoretically are possible, have been found, suggesting a barrier to diploid-triploid reproduction.  Investigations of habitat distribution, flower development, and pollinator behavior suggest that gamete incompatibility or hybrid inviability prevent diploid-triploid hybridization.
Savannah’s research and presentation were supported by the Indiana Academy of Science, UIndy’s Research Fellows Program, a Shaheen College of Arts & Sciences Student Career Readiness and Leadership grant, the Office of the Provost, and her research advisor Dr. Daniel Scholes (assistant professor, biology).  The study was conducted in Morgan-Monroe State Forest.

Sidekicks kicking down the door

sidekick

Would Sherlock Holmes have been the world’s greatest detective without Dr. Watson? Could Batman keep Gotham City safe without Robin? Could Frodo have made it to Mt. Doom without Sam? Could the Avengers have stopped Thanos without the help of countless sidekicks along the way like Falcon, Bucky, Iron Patriot and Wong?

Despite the fact that sidekicks have played an integral role for many of pop culture’s most famous heroes, they have remained underdeveloped in literary and critical study. University of Indianapolis assistant professor of English Stephen Zimmerly has examined how the role of the sidekick is ever-expanding in modern media in his new book “The Sidekick Comes of Age: How Young Adult Literature is Shifting the Sidekick Paradigm.”

For Zimmerly, this is a passion that started early in life. “I remember that even as a kid, I would always pretend to be Robin, not Batman,” he said. “From a professional standpoint, I became interested in sidekick characters when I realized that sidekicks very seldom received any focused attention as the main subjects of literary study.

“When it suited their purposes, scholars would mention or use sidekicks, but always as a means to illustrate some larger issue, and the sidekick would exist as a colorful footnote.”

Zimmerly,_Steve (1)Zimmerly has noted that young adult literature has embraced the sidekick – recognizing the way the character can reflect the importance of growth and finding one’s place in the world. In this type of literature, authors are finding ways to add complexity to sidekick characterization. Tactics used to accomplish this include letting sidekicks “evolve” over the course of multiple books or perhaps even using parallel novels telling the story from the sidekick’s perspective. 

A specific story-type gaining traction in young adult literature right now is the superhero sidekick who tells the story from his or her point of view. These books often explain life as a sidekick, but also show how even potentially-superpowered teens experience ordinary teenage difficulties. “Very often, sidekicks are also on the cusp of moving from the ‘passenger seat’ to the ‘driver’s seat,’” Zimmerly explains, “just like the teenagers reading the books who face leaving home for the first time are on the cusp of independence.

Learn more about the University of Indianapolis Department of English.

“Because many sidekicks are young adults, it makes perfect sense for young adult fiction to tell these kinds of stories.” 

So what is the appeal of the sidekick? What leads authors and their readers to want to explore how sidekicks fit in their narratives? Zimmerly has a theory. “It is almost easier to perceive ourselves as the sidekicks,” he says. “Maybe we’re not the strongest, or the fastest, or the smartest – and usually the sidekick isn’t either.”

Giving the readers the ability to place themselves in the story is how the sidekick was first utilized in comic books. Again, because most sidekicks were far younger than the main characters, it gave younger readers someone their own age to relate to.

Zimmerly sees young adult literature as the ideal testing ground to explore new ways to write and challenge norms. “Young adult fiction has historically given its authors a lot of freedom in what they write and how they write it,” he said. “These authors can play with any number of conventions more easily and with more freedom than an author writing for more conventional, adult audiences.”

As young adult literature continues to grow in popularity, more and more of these stories will likely be told, which will continue a growing emphasis on characteristically complex sidekick characters. For more information on Zimmerly’s book “The Sidekick Comes of Age: How Young Adult Literature is Shifting the Sidekick Paradigm,” click here.

University of Indianapolis study points to positive impact of father-child play

Fathers who play with their young children are making an impact that lasts well beyond childhood, a new study from the University of Indianapolis has found.

The study, “Father-child play, child emotional dysregulation, and adolescent internalizing symptoms: A longitudinal multiple mediation analysis,” was published in Development & Psychopathology’s December 2018 edition. Jenifer Gregory ’17 (Psy.D., clinical psychology) ’14 (M.A., clinical psychology) authored the paper, with University of Indianapolis faculty Katie Kivisto and Neil Perdue as co-authors, along with David Estell of Indiana University. The paper was based on Gregory’s doctoral dissertation and is her first research publication in a scientific journal.

Jenifer Gregory

Jenifer Gregory

Gregory, who is now in private practice as a clinical psychologist at Continuum: Mental Health & Wellness in Indianapolis, said the research supports that “positive and supportive father-child relationships are very important for healthy child development.”

One way to measure those relationships is by the quality of father-child interactions during play time. The researchers found that children who have fathers who play with them “in a manner that is sensitive, supportive, emotionally attuned, attentive and challenging without being overstimulating are more likely to learn how to effectively self-regulate or cope with their emotions,” Gregory explained. This finding was true even after researchers accounted for factors like family income and quality of the mother-child relationship.

Father-child play also helps with long-term emotional growth, the study found, with the quality of those interactions predicting kids’ positive development through adolescence.

“The kids who had better quality play with their dads in first grade were better at emotion regulation in third grade and had less depression as 15-year-olds,” Kivisto said.

The study pulled data from a national data set of early childcare and youth development, commissioned by National Institute of Child Health and Development and conducted at various sites throughout the country.

“Based on our findings, fathers in particular (and parents in general) should encourage and engage in this type of positive, child-centered and child-directed play in order to support children’s emotional development,” Gregory said.

With state and national initiatives aimed at getting fathers more involved with their children, Kivisto said the research can be useful for agencies and community support networks that provide parenting advice.

Katie Kivisto

Katie Kivisto

“What dads are doing is making an impact and shaping kids’ development. We want to remind them that play is really important, and goes hand-in-hand with meeting basic needs and discipline,” Kivisto said.

Kivisto’s clinical and research background in parent-child attachment and emotional regulation development matched Gregory’s academic interests as she pursued a dissertation topic. Kivisto connected Gregory to Neil Perdue, associate professor of psychology, vice president and chief operating officer, to gain access to a database that proved crucial to the research.

“As we looked through the data that had become available to us, it became clear that we should utilize the study’s observations of father-child play as a measure of relationship quality because this type of observation is so rarely utilized,” Gregory said.

Gregory said her coursework, research and practicum training at UIndy prepared her for her current work with children and families.

“It guides my interventions with families in that I strive to involve parents, and particularly fathers, in the process of working with children. I emphasize the importance of the type of child-centered, child-directed, sensitive and supportive play that we found to be so important for child emotional development,” she said.

Kivisto points out that the sample used in the study happened to involve biological fathers, but the researchers are respectful of the fact that not every family has a biological father involved. The key takeaway for parents is to make sure that they take the time to play with children on a regular basis.

“Parents can feel stressed by the idea of adding one more thing to their to-do list,” Kivisto noted, “But research shows that even 5-10 minutes a day of this kind of play can improve child behavior and wellbeing.”

Written by Sara Galer, University of Indianapolis communications manager.

 

Doctorate student Rebecca McCormic publishes in peer-reviewed journal

Rebecca McCormicSecond-year doctorate student Rebecca McCormic ‘22 recently published an article as first author in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. The article, “‘Me too’ decision: An analog study of therapist self-disclosure of psychological problems,” is based on her thesis.

McCormic’s research topic is self-disclosure, meaning how much a therapist should share about their personal experience with a problem. According to McCormic, the results of her study indicated that participants thought better of therapists when that therapist shared that they had a similar experience. Specifically, the level of disclosure most favored included the fact that the therapist had struggled with a similar issue and shared symptoms they had experienced.

McCormic is now working on a dissertation that focuses on improving the relationship between clients from multicultural backgrounds and therapists who are white. This is being done with the help of Dr. Michael Poulakis, assistant professor in the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, who said McCormic is “really one of our best PsyD students.”

McCormic is also completing the first year of a practicum at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Marion, Indiana.

“I have done therapeutic work with veterans in the acute psych department, the residential substance abuse department, and the outpatient clinic for those struggling with severe mental illness. This typically involves one on one sessions, group therapy, or treatment planning meetings. Serving those that have served our country has been personally rewarding, since I have many family members who are veterans,” she explained.

McCormic says she is excited to continue her growth and development as a clinician and researcher at UIndy.

“I have many areas of interest, but right now I’m interested in ethical gray areas, multicultural support, improving patient/client care, and education,” she said.

 

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