Conference Honors K Student’s Research

Sarah Bragg discusses her research during a poster session at the inauguration of President Jorge Gonzalez.
Sarah Bragg discusses her research during a poster session at the inauguration of President Jorge Gonzalez.

Sarah Bragg ’17 won an award for her poster detailing research on barriers to HIV testing. She presented the poster at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Tampa, Florida, this month. Her work was awarded in the conference’s Behavioral Science and Public Health category.

Sarah conducted her research during 12-week summer internship at Morehouse College and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. She plans to expand the project she completed (titled “Barriers and Solutions to HIV Testing Among College and University Students”) and make it the basis of her Senior Individualized Project. That project will compare the prevalence and contexts of HIV testing at public and private institutions of higher education. During all four years of her undergraduate experience at K, Sarah has served as a Civic Engagement Scholar in the College’s Center for Civic Engagement. She has worked in a weekly mentoring program with young women. She also has worked with Assistant Professor of Psychology Kyla Fletcher on her three-year NIH study on daily HIV risk reduction behavior in African-American partner relationships.

Sarah is earning her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in community and global health. She plans to pursue a career in public health and, after graduating this June, to apply for a one- or two-year fellowship with the CDC. About the work she did during her summer internship, Sarah wrote: “I was able to use the skills that were cultivated at Kalamazoo College, especially through my work at the Center for Civic Engagement.” The CCE stresses the connection between effective social change and work that applies a social justice perspective. “We do not strive to save the world,” explained Sarah. “We collaborate with communities in an effort to find solutions that are suitable and that ensure the dignity and respect for the community.”

Alumna Prepared for Fulbright Teaching Assignment

Ellie Cannon
Ellie Cannon – Photo by Hein Htut Tin ’17

Next month it’s off to Spain for Ellie Cannon ’15, who feels thoroughly “K-Plan prepped.”

Ellie received an English Teaching Assistantship grant with the Fulbright Student Program. For nine months she will work at a school of commerce in Galicia, an autonomous community in northwestern Spain. She is excited, of course, and grateful, “Over the last five years I received invaluable academic and professional mentorship from college faculty, staff, and alumni,” she said. “Friends and classmates also educated and encouraged me.”

Galicia is one of Spain’s lesser known cultures. The population and local government are bilingual, operating in Spanish and the local language, Galego. Many Galicians identify with Celtic culture, which some attribute to pre-Roman era migration and to a more recent process of adopting Celtic-related tradition.

“I look forward to being a student and a teacher of culture,” said Ellie. “The K-Plan prepared me for both.”

She spent her early childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a neighborhood blended with immigrant, refugee and working class families. When she was in middle school her family moved to a small rural town on the west shore of Lake Michigan, where “I learned about rural and maritime cultures, began to study Spanish, and tutored the bilingual children of dairy and migrant farm workers.”

When it came time to pick a college, K seemed a great option to more deeply develop intercultural competence. “As a first year student and later as a Teaching Assistant, [Professor of English] Bruce Mills’ seminar on autism acquainted me with the idea of neurodiversity,” said Ellie. “The Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement facilitated additional service-learning in Kalamazoo, partnerships that included a poetry club at Kalamazoo Central High School, a bilingual nutrition club at El Sol Elementary, and research for the Kalamazoo County Sobriety Court.” Ellie majored in biology and psychology and earned a minor in Spanish. She shaped her academics–as well as an externship and her Senior Individualized Project–mindful of her burgeoning interest in medicine and public health. “I interned with Dr. Andrew Terranella ’99 at the bilingual Navajo Area Indian Health Service in Arizona,” she said. “My SIP reflected my interest in ecological health, and I collaborated with Dr. Paige Copenhaver-Parry on an investigation that eventually was published in the journal Oecologia (Copenhaver-Parry and Cannon, 2016).” Since graduation she has worked with immigrant families in the Kalamazoo Public Schools Bilingual Program under the direction of K alumnus Scott Hunsinger ’94.

“I look forward to continued intercultural exchange,” said Ellie. “It’s vital. I’ve come to understand that a healthy community is educated, equitable, and medically fit. And each of those components is inextricably linked to diversity and culture.”

K Joins WMed to help local students dream big and enter pipeline to health science careers

SC07417Kalamazoo College welcomes 24 local high school students to campus this week for Early Introductions to Health Careers Level II (EIH-II), a cooperative program between K and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed).

The program intends to foster biomedical science and health career aspirations for underrepresented minorities and disadvantaged high school students, grades 10-12, in Kalamazoo County. Students will participate in interactive-presentations, hands-on lab experiments, note-booking, and be exposed to physicians, health professionals in allied health, and basic scientists.

The program is designed to improve students problem solving and critical thinking skills and “help them dream a little bigger and have fun,” said Dawn DeLuca, Healthcare Career Pathways Coordinator, Office of Health Equity and Community Affairs. According to DeLuca, EIH-II is part of Kalamazoo County’s first pipeline educational initiative for health professions. It also includes EHI Level I, a program for elementary school students, and Kalamazoo Education Enrichment Pre-Med Summer Program (KEEPS), a program for students in their first two years of college.

SC07430Two Kalamazoo College students are involved in KEEPS, which aims to add to the development of current undergraduate students who are science majors and interested in pursuing health professional careers through their participation as mentors and teaching assistants. The K students and high school students will also spend time with current WMed students, which include eight K alumni.

Laura Furge, Ph.D., associate provost and Roger F. and Harriet G. Varney Professor of Chemistry at K is leading EIH-II students through numerous presentations and experiments in K’s Dow Science Center this week. Among students’ activities will be learning basic lab safety and practices, talking about sodas and calculating how much soda they drink, conducting extraction and HPLC experiments, learning about enzymes via “toothpickase” activity, looking at the structure of proteins through 3D printing, and hosting a notebook competition and poster tour in Dow.

SC07426“Pipeline, pre-professional and enrichment programs are an important strategy for addressing the educational achievement gaps and diversifying the health professions and shortage of underrepresented minorities in the health professions,” said DeLuca.

“We believe it may also contribute to reducing health disparities in students’ communities through their improved knowledge about health, social determinants of health, and active citizenship through service learning with community organizations.”

Kalamazoo College is a Goodwill Partner

K student Andrew Parsons ’19 helps Goodwill student Estefani Rosales with her GED studies
K student Andrew Parsons ’19 helps Goodwill student Estefani Rosales with her GED studies. Photo by Tony Dugal

Kalamazoo College has received the Community Partner of the Year Award for 2016 from Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan.

In announcing the award, Goodwill officials noted that “Kalamazoo College has been an invaluable partner to Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan and its Adult Education programming for more than a decade.”

K students, working through the College’s Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement provide tutoring support in Goodwill classrooms for adults studying to pass a General Educational Development (GED) test, a credential that’s commonly considered equivalent to a high school diploma.

“K students also offer encouragement to our students and demonstrate that K cares about the well-being of the community at large,” said Scott Goodwin, coordinator of education services for Goodwill Industries of Southwest Michigan. “Over the years, the faces of the K students have changed, but the results remain constant. K students are committed to the students at Goodwill.”

According to Goodwin, one Goodwill student who recently passed her GED exam commented that the biggest reason she was successful was because of her K tutor’s commitment to help her and encouragement that she could finish.

“And she did,” Goodwin said.

“Kalamazoo College’s service-learning programming puts an emphasis on helping educational programming throughout Kalamazoo and the results have been wonderful. We are pleased to honor Kalamazoo College with our Community Partner of the Year Award.”

STORIES Wins at North by Midwest

EDITOR’S NOTE (May 24): “The Stories They Tell” won the Kalamazoo Film Society’s “Palm d’Mitten” Award for best local film. And the documentary won second place for best feature film at this weekend’s NxMW Film Festival in Kalamazoo! Pictured (below) at the award ceremony are (l-r): Zac Clark ’14 (Production Assistant), Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan (Co-Authorship Project Creator), Visiting Instructor of Art Danny Kim (Director), Matt Hamel (Photographer/Animator), Michelle Hamel (Videographer) and Dhera Strauss (Videographer). CONGRATULATIONS!

Film Creators of 'The Stories They Tell'









(April 26) “The Stories They Tell,” a documentary film by Visiting Instructor of Art Danny Kim is an official selection of the 2016 North by Midwest Film Festival and will be shown in the Wellspring Dance Theater at the Epic Center (359 S. Kalamazoo Mall) on May 21 at 3:30 p.m.  In this charming film, Kalamazoo College Professor of Psychology Siu-Lan Tan partners every Kalamazoo College student in her “Developmental Psychology” class with a child at Woodward Elementary School to write children’s books together. The project’s concept has been expanded and continued through a partnership with the College’s Center for Civic Engagement. As the student (college and primary school) create these whimsical, amusing and surprising stories, the connections they make with each other have a lasting impact, not only in literacy and learning, but in understanding their pasts and futures.  The film also screened at the Lake Erie Arts and Film Festival in Sandusky, Ohio, the East Lansing Film Festival in Michigan, and Reading FilmFEST in Reading, Pennsylvania. The tickets for the showing at the Wellspring Dance Theater are FREE but registration is required.

Diamonds in the Rough

Tom HigginsTom Higgins ’92 returned to his alma mater in early April as part of a visit coordinated by the Kalamazoo Section of the American Chemical Society. Higgins talked about “How Undergraduate Research Experiences Can Change Students’ Lives.” He should know.  Higgins and a number of collaborators have made great strides in cultivating future scientists by introducing undergraduate research experiences for students at two-year institutions. Known as STEM-ENGINES (Engaging the Next Generation in Exploring STEM), their research collaborative has enabled over 286 Chicago-area students, including many first-generation American citizens, to gain academic-year and summer research experience mentored by chemistry and biology faculty. Often these “diamonds in the rough” may not have envisioned research as a potential career path.

The K chemistry major cites his foreign study experience (Erlangen, Germany) as a source of insight and empathy into his own students’ discomfort in learning beyond their comfort zone. He sees community colleges as important part of the higher education landscape and his research demonstrates that small investments in a student can have a big payoff benefiting individuals, families, institutions, and communities.

Higgins is a program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Undergraduate Education, and he also serves as a professor at Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago.
He began teaching at Harold Washington in 1998 after completing his Ph.D. at Northwestern. He never thought he’d be there as long as he has been, but–as he told an audience of students and faculty from K, Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College– the atmosphere created by small class sizes made it hard to leave.

Text and photo by Ann Jenks

K Awarded Top Civic Engagement Honor

2016 Civic Engagement Scholars
2016 Civic Engagement Scholars

Kalamazoo College is Michigan’s 2016 Engaged Campus of the Year! Michigan Campus Compact (MiCC) recently announced K’s selection for the honor by a team of national reviewers at MiCC’s Awards Gala, held at Michigan State University’s Kellogg Center in East Lansing.

K students, faculty, staff and community partners represent the College
K students, faculty, administrators and community partners represented the College at the 2016 Michigan Campus Compact awards ceremony in Lansing.

The Engaged Campus of the Year Award recognizes an institution of higher education for exemplary commitment to the education of students for civic and social responsibility; genuine and sustained investment in community relationships; and a commitment to service learning and civic engagement opportunities for students across all disciplines.

In particular, the award is a tribute to the work of the College’s Center for Civic Engagement. Through service-learning courses and student-led programs, the CCE has engaged more than 5,500 K students in long-term, reciprocal partnerships to foster academic learning, critical problem-solving, and a lifetime of civic engagement while strengthening the community. “The students have worked with thousands of community residents, some 50 different organizations, and in more than 30 different community-based courses,” says CCE director Alison Geist.

Mallory McClure Innovations in Community Impact
K senior Mallory McClure ’16 accepted the Innovations in Community Impact award for K’s Swim for Success program.

Kalamazoo College also earned an MiCC Innovations in Community Impact award for its program Swim for Success (SFS). The Innovations Award recognizes creative and measurably effective approaches to community problem solving. SFS is a swimming program for local children that takes place on K’s campus three evenings a week. It is a partnership between K and the City of Kalamazoo led by Civic Engagement Scholars Kevin Ewing and Mallory McClure. More than 20 K students are involved as tutors or swim coaches in the program. Kevin and Mallory are both members of the college swim team and are also coaches in the SFS program. K students also provide tutoring onsite one hour before swimming lessons begin.

In addition, Susmitha Daggubati ’16 received MiCC’s 2016 Commitment to Service Award for students. The Commitment to Service Award recognizes outstanding students for their commitment to service. Students are chosen specifically for either the breadth or depth of their community involvement or their service experience(s) and the demonstration of meaningful reflection of those experiences.

Susmitha Daggubati Commitment To Service
K senior Susmitha Daggubati ’16 received the MCC’s 2016 “Commitment to Service” award.

Michigan Campus Compact is a coalition of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education. The organization promotes the education and commitment of Michigan college students to be engaged citizens.

Happy Birthday, Center for Civic Engagement

Center for Civic Engagement turns 15 this yearThe Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) turns 15 this year, and its hard to imagine better origins. It began as a joint brainstorming effort between students, faculty and several community partners with the intent on redefining what a liberal arts education was all about. Students were not just de facto city residents while they studied at K; they were community assets as well. Annually, about 600 K students participate in service-learning in some way with the CCE.

From work on sustainability issues to girl’s and women’s empowerment to health and economic equality to food justice, CCE programming engages students in work that promotes social justice, further pushing the College’s mission to create lifelong learners.

“For some of our students, it’s the first time they’ve witnessed first-hand a variety of ‘isms,’” says Alison Geist, CCE’s director. “We put students on the front lines of many societal issues in a way that sitting in a lecture or classroom just can’t.”

Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) turns 15 this yearSusmitha Daggubati ’16 mentors a second-grader at Woodward Elementary School in Kalamazoo’s Stuart Neighborhood, adjacent to K’s campus. Daggubati, a senior majoring in chemistry and earning a concentration in biochemistry and molecular biology, is in her second year at Woodward and serves as a Civic Engagement Scholar, a kind of on-site leader who mentors other K students working at sites across the community, scheduling their shifts and organizing meetings to brainstorm programming ideas.

Daggubati moved with her family to the Kalamazoo area from their native India ten years ago. Still very much tied to her Indian roots, her time in service-learning has also given her a greater understanding of the complex social issues at play in American society “In many classes, we learn the theories about the roots of so many social problems,” she says. “But I am able to make those connections to the real world when I’m involved. It keeps me rooted in the realities of the world, and it has given me a greater understanding of American culture.”

Tom Thornburg is the managing attorney at Farmworker Legal Services, a non-profit agency based in Bangor, Mich., a small community about 25 miles west of Kalamazoo, in an agricultural area where hundreds of migrant workers flock each year to work in fields and orchards. His agency assists these workers – overwhelmingly Hispanic – with everything from language services to information on their legal rights to informing them of resources available to them. He’s been working with the CCE for almost a decade, and the K students who’ve come through his doors have become an invaluable resource.

“The students from K are some of the brightest, best-equipped and most professional volunteers we get,” Thornburg says. “They come here with a sense of enthusiasm to help, a sense of what to do, an autonomy. They’re excellent, right up there in many ways with the law students we have working here.”

Over the years, hundreds of the nearly 2,000 students Associate Professor of Psychology Karyn Boatwright has taught have participated in service-learning programs, in a diverse group of local agencies, from the Kalamazoo Public Schools to Planned Parenthood to Goodwill Industries.

Through more than 30 different courses at the College designed with community partners, faculty at K have engaged thousands of students, community residents and leaders to create opportunities for experiential learning and impact derived organically and intentionally from service-learning work.

Says Boatwright, “The CCE and their students consistently impress upon us the need for reflection to ensure that we are not only connecting the proverbial dots, but understanding the political and social connections between success and social factors. Civic engagement experiences improve the quality of learning for our students and strengthen our community.”

The College’s solid commitment to developing the next generation of leaders who are observant, lifelong learners intent on crafting solutions to problems plaguing a suffering world is stronger now than ever. Concludes Geist: “The founders of K were always interested in social justice, and our programming is a manifestation of that. It’s the idea that we should be creating a fellowship of learning, not just working in ivory towers tucked away from society.”

(Text by Chris Killian; photo by Keith Mumma)