Last month, the Office of Service Learning (OSL) and the Center for Faith and Public Life (CFPL) at Fairfield University celebrated a great year of student projects and service learning courses, and introduced new courses for the 2018-2019 academic year at the annual Service Learning Appreciation Celebration and Poster Session.
The formal event began with the recognition of Eunsun Hong ’19, an international studies major and biochemistry minor, who was presented with the 2018 Newman Civic Fellow Award. Hong participated in the Global Scholars program in The Gambia where she worked with Starfish International, a non-profit organization focused on girls’ education. During her time in the program, Hong taught courses in health and nutrition for middle and high school girls. After returning from the program, Hong continued to make a difference in the world. She co-founded the Global Health Club on campus, which will coordinate outreach between the University and local public health-related and educational facilities. The fellowship, one of 268 across the country, is part of Campus Compact, a national coalition of nearly 1,100 college and university presidents committed to improving community life and educating students for civic and social responsibility.
The Outstanding Community Partner Award was presented to Christine Toni of the Hope Dispensary. The Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx Faculty Award for Excellence in Community Engagement was awarded to Tom Sobocinski, adjunct professor of English in the College of Arts & Sciences for his work as a grant writer for Homes for the Brave.
Partnerships for Social Change Grants were awarded to:
- RIZE - Research, Internships, and Zoo Education, with Ashley Byun, associate professor of biology; Jim Know, curator of education at the Beardsley Zoo; and Rob Thomas, head animal curator at the Beardsley Zoo.
- Expanding Arts Education at Claytor Academy: Literature, Drama, and Creative Writing, with Jill Bodach, adjunct professor of English; Christina Moore, vice principle at Geraldine Claytor Magnet Academy; and Shannon Kelley, associate professor of English.
- Transition Opportunities for Post-Secondary Success (TOPS), with Allyson Martin, co-director/assistant professor of the Special Education program at GSEAP; Emily Shamash, co-director/visiting professor of the Special Education program at GSEAP; Wendy Bloch, administrator of program and business development at The Kennedy Center; and Jessica Grabowski, MA candidate in the Special Education program at GSEAP.
The poster presentations, held in the Kelley Center Presentation Room, showcased over 20 student projects ranging from research trips to Brazil, to regional economic development, to community and global health. Projects were also developed across a variety of fields, from economics to nursing.
Below are some of the unique projects students and faculty presented.
Community, Public, and Global Health Nursing: Under the direction of Associate Professor Diana Mager, DNP, RN-BC, ten Fairfield nursing students traveled to Nicaragua over spring break to immerse themselves in a new healthcare environment. This program was launched in 2009 for nursing students to collaborate with the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) and community partners, to develop and implement sustainable, evidence-based interventions to address health concerns.
To address the high rates of cervical cancer deaths in the Nicaragua, students completed house-to-house interviews with over 100 men and women in Ayapal, where they asked about the interview subjects' knowledge of pap smear tests and cervical cancer. After evaluating the learning needs of the community, program participants developed a handout to educate the community on the importance of pap smear screening to detect cervical cancer in its early stages and to promote better outcomes.
Nicaragua also has a high rate of childhood obesity. To combat this issue, students visited Nueva Vida to complete a third year of tracking growth data for a primary school. Program participants measured weights and heights of 230 students in a Nicaragua school. In addition to collecting this data, they developed educational activities addressing healthy food choices, exercise habits, water safety, and bullying.
Biology Field Experience in Brazil: Associate Professor Ashley Byun, PhD lead a group of 11 Fairfield biology students with PROFAUNA to study the negative impact urban and agricultural development has on the environment and wildlife. According to the Brazilian Center for Road Ecology Research (CBEE), an estimated 475 million wild animals are killed every year on Brazilian roads. Students worked with PROFAUNA to analyze road kill occurrences and to develop a non-invasive deterrent system to keep wild animals off the roads in critical areas that run through the Atlantic Rainforest.
While volunteering with PROFAUNA, students also took part in a jungle expedition in the Atlantic Rainforest known as Serra do Mar to document the presence of the endangered southern muriqui, the largest primate in South America, and to initiate conservation efforts to protect the muriqui population in Serra do Mar. Muriquis are subject to high risk extinction rates due to forest destruction and predatory hunting. Serra do Mar is considered one of the remaining places where populations of muriquis still occur.
Health Communication for Healthcare Professionals: “Health Communication for Healthcare Professionals,” a course taught by Dr. Michael Pagano, associate professor of communication, had students engage with patients and staff at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in West Haven, CT, to learn more about healthcare delivery. Students were able to see and experience the interaction between patients and healthcare providers, and witness the important role communication plays in healthcare.
Additionally, the Office of Service Learning announced service learning courses with OSL grant support for 2018-19: Economic Development; Educational Technology Capstone; Psychology and Aging; Shakespeare and the Pedagogies of Justice; and Service Learning in South India: Challenges of Development and Democracy, which will include an international service learning immersion in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, India.