Virtual Dementia Tour puts students in the shoes of those with dementia

dementiatour290You never truly know the plight of another person until you are walking in their shoes. The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community gave students the opportunity to do just that during through the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT), which was part of UIndy’s recent Interprofessional Education (IPE) Week. With the country’s number of baby boomers set to become the largest living adult generation, all students will likely interact with a person with dementia, whether as patient or a family member.

The VDT simulates the sensory disturbances experienced by people struggling with debilitating effects of dementia. The VDT takes place in a home-like environment, and participants are given a simple task to complete within a 3-minute time frame. Before entering the mock apartment on the 4th floor of the Health Pavilion, participants were given headphones, visual obstruction goggles, and oven mitts to simulate poor hand control.

Janette Hensleigh, a Master of Occupational Therapy student, remarked, “The headset with the background noise and the occasional fire siren paired with the obfuscating glasses did a great job of muddling both the instructions I was given and my awareness of things around me.”

These multi-sensory disturbances are a normal daily occurrence to the millions of people living with dementia worldwide.

“This immersion into the world of a person with dementia has the ability to change perspectives of healthcare professionals across all fields,” said Kayleigh Adrian, CAC project coordinator. “The virtual dementia tour allows the student to switch their perspective from knowledge about a disease to true compassion for another person.”

dementiaglovesThe students who participated found that the short experience in the apartment will change their mindset for the long term. Samantha Wallenberg, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy student, said the experience has allowed her to “be more mindful of those who have dementia and understand how to communicate with them better, as well as how to communicate with their family.” Her classmate, Nicole Scholl, agreed.

“If I ever work with a client who has dementia or even memory loss, I am going to be patient and understanding with them,” Scholl said. “I will also be advocating for people with dementia when interacting with their caregivers and other people because what people with dementia are going through is very difficult and challenging.”

Each participant’s reflection had a common theme: frustration. Scholl was frustrated when “I forgot what I was doing and I could not find anything. By the time I found what I was looking for I forgot why I needed the object in the first place.”

This emotional experience led Hensleigh to rethink how she interacts with not only patients, but family members. “I will definitely keep this experience in mind when I interact with people with dementia,” she said. “I have a family member in the early stage of dementia, and I will remember to keep questions or statements very simple so he can better understand.  I will keep that in mind when I work with people with cognitive deficits, too.”

Last month’s VDT received interest from students pursuing health careers, but the experience is open to all students, faculty, and staff. The VDT will be offered again in the Health Pavilion on Tuesday, November 13 from 5:00-6:30pm and again from 6:30-8:00pm. Space is limited and reservations can be made online here.

Written by Olivia Horvath ’20 (OTD)

Public health students present at national conference

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Public health students and faculty from the University of Indianapolis presented advocacy strategies to reduce gun violence at the Society for Public Health Advocacy (SOPHE) Advocacy Summit in October. The national event, hosted in Washington, D.C., brought students and professionals together to advance the discussion of firearm-related violence as it relates to public health.

The UIndy delegation included Master of Public Health (MPH) students Yordanos Gebru and Shawn Schweitzer, undergraduate Megan Davish, and MPH Program Director Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch. Their presentation, “Strategies for the Novice Advocate: Creating Advocacy Plans to Fight Gun Violence,” provided a toolkit for professionals to make a difference in their community.

Dr. Hancher-Rauch, who serves as co-chair for SOPHE’s Advocacy Committee, says the access to professional opportunities that the public health program offers is central to her students’ success.

“We worked together on the whole process, from start to finish,” she said. “Attending the conference is important, but often students don’t have the opportunity to see behind-the-scenes of a professional experience. This takes their learning to the next level … These are the opportunities I would have liked to have as a graduate student.”

Learn more about the Master of Public Health program and the undergraduate Public Health Education & Promotion program

Presenting on such a hot-button issue at the national level was at first an intimidating prospect for Schweitzer. But he knew there was no turning back once their abstract was accepted.

“Not a lot of people want to talk about things like this, but it needs to be discussed,” he said. “This was a perfect opportunity to get out of my comfort zone.”

This conference was one opportunity among many for Schweitzer to engage with his field outside of the classroom.  For example, he is developing an after-school program to help area high-school students utilize coping skills in the face of stress.

“It’s amazing how much hands-on work we get to do. It has given me a lot to think about—what kinds of projects do I want to continue working on after I graduate?”

Hailing from Ethiopia, Gebru plans to attend medical school after earning her graduate degree.

“The MPH program has shown me the different factors that affect the overall health of a population—policies, programs, health education,” Gebru said. “Problems are more expansive than simple explanations like a lack of doctors or health facilities.”

Dr. Heidi Hancher-Rauch can be contacted at rauchh@uindy.edu.

Written by Logan McGrady, Communications Specialist for Graduate & Adult Learning Enrollment.

Artist-in-Residence Drew Petersen creates unique learning opportunities for piano students

Drew Petersen master piano class - February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Drew Petersen master piano class – February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

INDIANAPOLIS – Music students at the University of Indianapolis are reaping the benefits of an artist-in-residence program that connects them with unique learning experiences and a global professional network.

Drew Petersen, 2017 American Pianists Awards winner, Christel DeHaan fellow and University of Indianapolis artist-in-residence, has held masterclasses, private coachings, lectures and performances as part of the partnership between the American Pianists Association and the University.

Petersen returns in October for a performance at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Oct. 29, followed by master classes throughout the week that serve as a catalyst for students in the University’s music program.

Learn more about the University of Indianapolis Department of Music programs.

Drew Petersen master piano class with UIndy students at CDFAC on the Ruth Lilly Perfomance Hall stage on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

A cum laude graduate of Harvard University in social sciences, Petersen pursued undergraduate and graduate studies in music at the Juilliard School. He also has been a prizewinner in major international competitions and has been profiled in the New York Times, New York Magazine and the documentary Just Normal.

Petersen said interacting with the talented music students on campus has been one of the biggest rewards of his new connection to the University.

“Whenever I interact with the students and faculty, I am reminded that each day at UIndy is an opportunity to explore great music together and examine and innovate the best ways we can share it with the community. I’ve been having a great time, and I look forward to all that lies ahead,” Petersen said.

Drew Petersen master piano class with UIndy students at CDFAC on the Ruth Lilly Perfomance Hall stage on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. (Photo: D. Todd Moore, University of Indianapolis)

Students also have enjoyed Petersen’s mentorship. During her masterclass with Petersen, Carrie Atkinson ’18 (music – piano) was inspired by his remarkable playing technique and personable approach.

“Drew brought an excitement to the music that was inspiring to see as well as some wonderful insights to the music that reinforced what my teachers had already been instructing me in,” Atkinson said.

Richard Ratliff, professor of music, said Petersen’s fall 2017 performance on campus demonstrated the kind of grace under pressure that he encourages in his students.

“After our week with Drew, students approached the remainder of the semester with energy and enthusiasm. Students now realize that such mastery is a step-by-step process,” Ratliff explained.

Cole Snapp ’18 (music – piano, composition concentration) had a private lesson and a masterclass with Petersen and found both experiences to be motivational.

“Having an amazingly proficient pianist like Drew coach me was extremely valuable. He was able to bring things to my attention that I would not have otherwise thought. In a Zoltan Kodàly piece I was working on, he asked me to play the climactic section louder and louder until I was literally throwing my whole weight into the keys,” Snapp said.

“Since Drew is not much older than our students, his command in public presentation really made an impact. His expertise in a wide variety of repertoire — from the 18th century to the present — was apparent to everyone as he worked with students and spoke insightfully about the music he performs and is planning to record,” Ratliff said.

Atkinson said she’s grateful for the partnership between the APA and the University.

“I think that it is so enriching to get to work with musicians of his calibre. Drew is one of the top pianists on the scene right now, and getting to work with him was a very valuable and fresh experience. The best part, for me, was seeing how excited he got about the music,” she said.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@uindy.edu with your campus news.

Master of Science in Sport Management off to a record start

UIndy MSSM students benefit from the faculty's positive relationships with the NCAA. Sometimes that even means having class at NCAA headquarters.

UIndy MSSM students benefit from the faculty’s positive relationships with the NCAA. Sometimes that even means having class at NCAA headquarters.

The new school year is off to a blockbuster start for the Master of Science in Sport Management (MSSM) program. The program, which is housed in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Sciences, welcomed nearly two dozen new students this year – more than twice the size of any previous MSSM cohort.

Jennifer VanSickle, program director for both the undergraduate and graduate sport management programs, has some ideas for why the program is enjoying such a boost in enrollment.

“We made the master’s program more accessible,” she said, noting that applicants who posted at least a 3.0 GPA in their undergrad degree are no longer required to take the GRE. “The change in the admissions procedures puts us more in line with other sport management programs in the state.”

UIndy’s geography is also a draw for many students. The proximity to the NCAA headquarters and professional sports teams including the Pacers, Colts, and Indy Eleven –and the university’s working relationships with these organizations – is a plus for students seeking careers in the sports industry.

“We require two internships with a sports organization,” VanSickle said. “So our students gain valuable experience and have plenty of opportunities to network.”

Jessie Benner is in her second and final year of the sport management master’s program. Her internship experiences include a community relations internship with the WNBA franchise team, the Indiana Fever, and a championships and alliances ticketing experience at the NCAA.

“Both of my internship experiences have given me the opportunity to foster positive
relationships with those around me while expanding my network,” Benner said. “I am able to interact with and learn from leaders within the sports industry, at both the collegiate and professional levels. The hands-on experience of internships also allows me to strengthen my skills as look to enter the workforce in the near future.”

The internships, as well as class assignments, help MSSM students understand the rigorous nature of the world of sport management.

“A lot of people want to work in sports because it’s glamorous and they want to work in an
industry that matches their passions,” VanSickle said. “But the hours are long and most of the work is behind the scenes, so much that you might not actually get to see the ‘scenes.’ You have to work your way up before you can sit in the club suite and hobknob.”

Students don’t just have to take VanSickle’s word for it. Each MSSM student is paired with a sports industry mentor. Benner’s mentor is Kellie Leeman, senior director of ticket sales and service at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).

“Kellie has experience in several areas of sport, including the NCAA and IMS,” Benner said.

“Since I’m still unsure about what career path I want to take, Kellie’s knowledge of different areas is very helpful. We meet once a month to discuss developments on my end; she has offered me great insights. I really value her opinion.”

Prior to working as a mentor, Leeman collaborated with VanSickle to collaborated to develop the NCAA externship program several years ago.

“I really enjoyed working with the UIndy students through that program,” said Leeman, who joined the staff at IMS in 2016. “The sport management mentor program was another great opportunity for me to work with UIndy students.”

Leeman offered this advice to sport management students, “Network and seek as many different types of experiences as you can so you can learn what you like and don’t like about the industry.”

VanSickle also emphasized that the responsibility for networking and taking advantage of all the MSSM program offers lies with the student.

“We set the table for them; they have to close the deal.”

Written by Amy Magan, communications manager for the Center for Aging & Community and the College of Health Sciences.

Roche Academy: Forging new career paths for chemistry and biology majors

Roche_Mobile500Getting the chance to meet the company CEO, or learning to take apart complicated instruments and putting them back together again, are experiences that go beyond the average summer internship. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for students participating in the Roche Academy, a new program for chemistry and biology majors at the University of Indianapolis.

The Roche Academy is a new partnership between Roche Diagnostics and the University of Indianapolis. Co-developed with Ascend Indiana, a Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) initiative, the Roche Academy will create a custom talent pipeline for biomedical equipment technicians.

With nearly 93,000 employees worldwide, Roche is the world’s leading biotech company with 17 biopharmaceuticals on the market, and was one of the first companies to bring targeted treatments to patients. Roche Diagnostics U.S. headquarters in Indianapolis is home to more than 4,500 employees.

Students accepted into the Roche Academy will complete a Roche-customized curriculum path and summer internship experience focused on the hands-on, life science and engineering skills necessary for employment at Roche. Students successfully completing the program will receive financial and educational incentives, including a job offer from Roche upon graduation.

William Durchholz ’20 (chemistry) is among the first students to participate in the Roche Academy. As an intern with Roche Support Network, he took part in professional development workshops and received valuable new science and computer skills. He called it “a fantastic experience.”

“I gained skills in working with computers, hardware, and software that I did not have before. I also got to put soft skills into practice in a real world setting. I learned a little bit about the business world that I had never been exposed to as a chemistry major,” Durchholz said.

David Styers-Barnett, chemistry chair, said Roche approached the University of Indianapolis with the opportunity. Faculty from chemistry, biology, engineering and physics worked with Roche to develop a curriculum.

“They really liked how we all got in the room together and worked on this as a group. They felt our infrastructure would work for their needs,” Styers-Barnett explained.

The program will be in full swing by 2019, and an August event on campus attracted dozens of students who toured Roche’s Navigator mobile lab, which features a virtual reality interactive display and examples of the instrumentation that Roche Academy students will learn to maintain.

“As Roche’s customer base continues to grow, the demand for quality and properly trained biomedical equipment technicians continues to increase. These technicians are critical to Roche’s operations, as they maintain critical lab equipment and provide customer service across Roche’s 32 geographic service regions,” said Jim Floberg, vice president of Roche Support Network, Roche Diagnostics Corporation.

The 2019 cohort will include ten students, growing to 25 by the third year of the program.

“It’s a clear career path. It definitely offers students a unique opportunity with a major biomedical corporation that not a lot of undergraduate science students would otherwise have,” Styers-Barnett added.

For Durchholz, the Roche Academy provided him access to industry mentors.

They helped me with the etiquette and find my way around. They became good friends who helped me succeed while at Roche. I know if I needed it, I could contact them and they would be more that happy to help me,” he explained.

That experience also reflected the one-on-one mentorship he received at the University of Indianapolis – something he says is integral to student success in the chemistry program.

“These relationships are why I have been successful and also why I was able to get this internship with Roche. UIndy has connections!” Durchholz said.

Learn more about the Roche Academy.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Manager, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@uindy.edu with your campus news.

School of Business Finance Lab brings Wall Street tech to students’ fingertips

Finance_Lab_Dedication500A new School of Business Finance Lab will bring students access to state-of-the-art technology to develop their skills as they learn about the world of finance. A dedication ceremony, which marked the start of 2018 Homecoming festivities, highlighted the lab’s twelve Bloomberg terminals and stock ticker – tools designed to give students hands-on experience and a competitive edge as they enter the workforce.

Students will be trained using Bloomberg Market Concepts software on Bloomberg terminals, the most widely used tool of its kind in the world. Those who complete the training program will receive certification in the software, which offers a wide array of data on businesses, analytics, financial variables, corporate governance and more. With twelve terminals, the Finance Lab provides the largest degree of higher education access to Bloomberg tools in central Indiana.

Dr. Larry Belcher, dean of the School of Business, describes the $300,000 lab facility as an experiential learning device to serve as a framework for curriculum-building. The focus on applied learning ties in closely with the school’s ethos.

“This is a major development for the School of Business. For students who want to go into finance and other disciplines, having exposure to professional-grade tools and the opportunity to be certified in their use is huge,” Belcher said.

The Finance Lab acts as a contemporary “front door” to the new home of the School of Business on the first floor of Esch Hall. In addition to the Bloomberg terminals, which provide access to the software, an electronic ticker displays financial data, including the stocks in a student-managed portfolio and major market indices and news.

The UIndy Student Fund is one example of the School of Business’ approach to hands-on learning. Students in the one-semester class manage about $100,000 in a brokerage account. Belcher explained that they learn to research companies and make investment recommendations based on their research. If approved by their instructor, the Schwab custodian will execute the trades. While the students don’t actually trade, Belcher said they do have a fiduciary responsibility.

“You are now legally in charge of somebody else’s money. There are professional and ethical responsibilities that go along with that. They will be held accountable for the decisions they make,” Belcher explained.

The facility and capacity offered by the Finance Lab will filter into a variety of areas in the School of Business curriculum, including a new graduate program in data analytics slated to begin in fall 2019. Belcher said there is also potential for interdisciplinary collaboration.

“Data management is a huge thing in health care. We’re looking at opportunities to utilize the capacity in cooperative ventures with other programs, primarily in the health professions,” Belcher said.

Through the Campaign for the University of Indianapolis, the generosity of more than 150 donors supported the creation of the Finance Lab. Major supporters included Stephen Fry, chair of the University Board of Trustees, who was instrumental in the project, along with Tom Martin; Joe and Kim Cathcart; John and Melissa Duffy; Jeff and Stacy Mitchell; Larry and Jane Keyler; and JP Morgan.

Interprofessional Education Week emphasizes benefits of multidisciplinary learning

SimulationExerciseCollaboration is key in today’s healthcare settings, and the inaugural Interprofessional Education Week at the University of Indianapolis will highlight the benefits of this approach for students, faculty, medical professionals and patients alike.

Taking place Oct. 1-5, 2018, with many events open to the public, Interprofessional Education (IPE) Week is the brainchild of organizers from the College of Health Sciences, the School of Nursing and the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences. Students will have the opportunity to participate in classroom and extracurricular activities to learn about trending topics in various healthcare fields.

While many interdisciplinary events are hosted each academic year, this marks the first time that organizers are bringing them together in a single week.

“Interprofessional practice and education are critical components of working in healthcare. It’s very rare that we as healthcare professionals work in a silo, where we don’t interact with anyone else,” said Alison Nichols, assistant professor of occupational therapy and IPE Week organizer.

IPE Week features a kick-off event Oct. 1, and panel discussions on topics including addiction, health disparities and ethics, which are all open to the public. Dr. Brenda Howard, an assistant professor of occupational therapy who serves on the Ethics Commission for the American Occupational Therapy Association, will speak about the importance of ethics and how that affects everyone, regardless of their profession.

Other events are aimed specifically at students in healthcare-related fields, including a home assessment, an emergency simulation and the Diabetes Escape Room.

Briyana Morrell, assistant professor of nursing and IPE Week organizer, said the goal is to encourage students to consider how they will address various patient needs alongside colleagues in other professions.

“We have found that some students do not even know what another profession is, what those professionals do, or settings in which they work,” Morrell explained. “These purposeful learning activities break down barriers and facilitate learning about quality healthcare while learning about each other.”

Nichols provided the example of an inpatient rehabilitation floor of a hospital, where a patient might come into contact with a physician, nurses, occupational and physical therapists, a social worker, pharmacists, speech language pathologists, and more. She said everyone on the patient’s team needs to work together – and IPE Week helps students recognize the benefits of collaboration.

“All of us engage in ethical behavior and decision-making; we all need to recognize the roles that each member of the team can play; we all need to be able to communicate effectively; and we all have to be able to collaborate in order to give the patient the best client-centered care possible,” Nichols explained.

The interprofessional perspective pays dividends for faculty as well as student success. Emergency simulations held in 2016 and 2017 have served as the basis for several scholarly pursuits for UIndy faculty, and dozens of faculty have presented posters or talks on IPE at regional, national and international conferences.

“Many of the faculty who are organizing this event also have an article in press, another under review, and a final one near submission. What’s more, these events have helped faculty learn about each others’ professions, programs, students, and work,” Morrell said.

Morrell encouraged the entire campus community to be part of the inaugural IPE Week.

“Even if you think you know a lot about healthcare, you may find you don’t know as much as you think and have room to learn and grow.  It will benefit you, your profession, other students, and your patients,” she said.

The Interprofessional Education Week planning committee would like to thank the following sponsors: Lambda Epsilon Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community, the Central Indiana Oncology Nursing Society and Community Health Network. Additional thanks to Zoll for cardiac resuscitative equipment.

Schedule of events (contact Alison Nichols with questions.)

Monday, Sept. 17

Event Location Time Audience
Diane Healey Geriatrician Lecture R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 4 p.m. Public. L/P credit available.

Monday, Oct. 1

Event Location Time Audience
Panel discussion: Addictions R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 9-11 a.m. Public
Kickoff event: Conceptions and Misconceptions: What do you Know about the Many Healthcare Professions? R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion noon-1 p.m. All healthcare students
Mock trial R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 2-4 p.m. Public
Ask ProEdge: Resume and Career Coaching Health Pavilion atrium 9-11 a.m.
1-3 p.m.
All students

Tuesday, Oct. 2

Event Location Time Audience
Home assessment CLC apartment 8:30-11 a.m. Invitation only
Emergency simulation Health Pavilion and Nicoson Hall gym Noon-3 p.m. Invitation only for nursing and athletic training students
Virtual Dementia Tour CAC Apartment Round 1: 5-6:30pm

Round 2: 6:30-8pm

Public

RSVP to adriank@uindy.edu

Wednesday, Oct. 3

Event Location Time Audience
Home assessment CLC apartment 8:30-11 a.m. Invitation only
Panel discussion: Solving Ethical Problems Interprofessionally R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 10-11:30 a.m. Public
Panel discussion: Interprofessional Practice: A Case Study with Community Health Network R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 5:30-6:30 p.m. Public
Diabetes Escape Room Simulation Space, Health Pavilion 1-3 pm Invitation only
IPE Ask the Recruiter (with ProEdge) R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 3-4:30 p.m. All students

Thursday, Oct. 4

Event Location Time Audience
Home assessment CLC apartment 8:30-11 a.m. Invitation only
Emergency simulation Health Pavilion 8-11 a.m.
12-3 p.m.
Invitation only for nursing and athletic training students
Panel discussion: Addictions R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 6-8 p.m. Public
Women in Leadership: Strategies and Successes (LP credit) UIndy Hall B 6-8 p.m. Public

(note related to sport industry)

Friday, Oct. 5

Event Location Time Audience
Panel discussion: Health Disparities R.B. Annis Theatre, Health Pavilion 9-10 a.m. Public
Diabetes Escape Room Simulation Space, Health Pavilion 1-3 pm Invitation only
Breaking Down Stereotypes with OT and PT Across Campus; HEAL 208 12-1pm Current OT and PT students only

 

University of Indianapolis hosts Inaugural Chief Diversity Officers Symposium

The University of Indianapolis will host the Inaugural Chief Diversity Officers Symposium Sept. 11-13, 2018. The event is organized by CoopLew, a collaboration of national diversity researchers, experts and former chief diversity officers focused on developing transformative diversity leadership.

University of Indianapolis Officer of Inclusion and Equity Sean Huddleston explained that the decision to host the symposium aligns with the goal of positioning the University as a recognized diversity, equity and inclusion leader.

“We believe that by serving as a convener and major contributor for these types of conversations and events, UIndy can help organizations and institutions connect to research theory and practices centered on advancing innovative strategies for leveraging their diversity,” Huddleston said.

Around 20 chief diversity officers from higher education institutions across the country will be immersed in strategic approaches to finance, budgeting and strategic diversity fundraising.

“More and more, this is becoming an area of responsibility and focus for higher education chief diversity officers to help bolster their efforts while mitigating budget and funding limitations,” explained Huddleston. “However, there hasn’t been a great deal of training emphasis offered on fundraising for CDOs to match the increasing demand for these skills. This symposium will offer a particular focus on developing fundraising skills and strategies.”

CoopLew approached Huddleston earlier this year at the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education conference about the possibility of hosting their 2nd annual CDO Bootcamp for new higher education chief diversity officers in February 2019.

“We agreed to host the bootcamp, but recognized an additional opportunity to host their inaugural CDO symposium as well. We discovered lots of mutual benefit and decided to move forward with hosting both events,” Huddleston said.

Huddleston expects the number of symposium participants to grow in future years, and is looking into the University hosting the event annually.

University of Indianapolis Beyond Borders Team installing water stations in Texas borderlands

waterstation600BROOKS COUNTY, Texas – The University of Indianapolis Beyond Borders Team continues its humanitarian and scientific mission this month with the installation of water stations in South Texas. Led by Krista Latham, director of the University of Indianapolis Human Identification Center and associate professor of biology and anthropology, the team continued its collaboration with the South Texas Human Rights Center with the goal of preventing migrant deaths by installing the water stations.

Latham’s research and field work has brought national attention to the humanitarian crisis happening at the border. Since 2013, Latham and her graduate students on the Beyond Borders Team have been working with other organizations and universities to uncover remains from unmarked grave sites and identify the bodies of those who have died while making the journey to the United States.

Latham explained that the water stations are an important extension of the project’s ongoing work in South Texas.

Follow the Beyond Borders blog.

“Our work would not be necessary if there were not so many deaths in the desert due to overheating and dehydration.  This could partly be prevented by providing life-saving water. I believe our humanitarian aid contributions to this crisis are expressed in many different ways,” she said.

The group’s current trip to Brooks County involved the team successfully raising $750 to cover the cost of supplies for ten water stations. The students will prepare and set up the water stations at various locations throughout the county, which covers 944 square miles of brush land and desert.

“It is our hope that the donation and our work in setting up the new water stations will save countless lives,” Latham said.

The Beyond Borders Team will also participate in searches for the remains of those who died while crossing the border. If remains are located, Latham’s group will assist in recovering the remains so they can be identified and repatriated home.

As forensic specialists we volunteer a very specific skill set that contributes to the identification and repatriation of the unidentified migrants in the Texas Borderlands, but on a broader scale we are working to promote basic human rights. We are treating these individuals with dignity in death as we work towards giving them a name and a memory,” Latham said.

waterstation2For the students on the Beyond Borders Team, the trip is an opportunity to participate in a real world application of scholarly knowledge, skills and humanitarianism.  

“This opportunity represents hands-on training in the practice of global citizenship by empowering the students to utilize their education in a way that operates to promote a sense of common humanity and social responsibility. Promoting human rights and working for social justice in this unique situation will provide UIndy students the opportunity to grow professionally and personally,” Latham said.

Angela Zimmer, who is pursuing a master’s degree in human biology, is a team rookie on the trip.

“We are so proud of all we were able to achieve, but the reason for our work here has not been lost on us. The water stations we built today may save lives. The searches we conduct may help bring loved ones back to their families. Did we put in a lot of work today? Absolutely, but our work here is not finished. We’ve reached one goal but we’re only just getting started,” she said.

Follow the Beyond Borders blog.

 

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