June 29, 2017 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
Only 11 students from across the University were selected by The Graduate School to join the 2017-2019 cohort of the Graduate Civic Scholars Program, and Arnold School students have earned four of these highly competitive spots. Sarah King (health promotion, education and behavior), Lorelei Philip (communication sciences and disorders), Samantha Weber (exercise science), and Maria Zubizarreta (environmental health sciences) will join the innovative, professional development program, which will provide them with an enhanced understanding of the role of scholarship in community and public engagement, action-based research, and social justice.
This year, health promotion, education, and behavior associate professor Lucy Annang Ingram joins the program as co-director. “The scholars this year represent such a diverse pool of disciplines,” says Ingram. “It really is an embodiment of what civic scholarship means to span a variety of backgrounds and areas of research, study and engagement.”
Originally from outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, Sarah King discovered her passion for public health as a history and health science double major at Furman University. She plans to use her master of public health in health promotion, education, and behavior degree as a program coordinator for a public health organization or health coalition to create health programs that aid chronic disease prevention in local populations. As a graduate civic scholar, King is looking forward to working with external partners and stakeholders on a health-related project within the Columbia community—an experience that will serve as excellent preparation for her future career.
“I see this as an opportunity to practice the skills that I have learned within my degree program thus far and learn more on those that cannot be taught within a traditional classroom setting, such as community engagement and leadership,” she says. “I hope to not only gain further experience in the field of public health through the Graduate Civic Scholars Program but also learn from others on how civic scholarship is viewed within their own fields of study and apply some of those ideas within my own project.”
During her undergraduate program at Duke University, Concord, North Carolina native Lorelei Philip studied linguistics. She then went on to study speech-language pathology at Vanderbilt University. Philip had always been interested in the brain and language, and her bachelor’s and master’s programs furthered her curiosity about acquired language disorders and particularly aphasia, a communication disorder resulting from stroke or injury to the brain that impacts patients’ ability to speak, listen, read, and/or write but does not affect intelligence. With this background, joining the Arnold School’s communication sciences and disorders doctoral program was a natural transition for the current and future teacher, researcher, and clinician.
“While my program has allowed me to focus on teaching and conducting research in multiple areas such as aphasia treatment, prediction of outcomes, and the neurophysiology underlying speech and language functions, the Graduate Civic Scholars Program will allow me to pursue another area of interest which is quality of life and social support in chronic aphasia,” says Philip. “That will provide me with a well-rounded background from which I can think about aphasia from multiple perspectives, and I believe that will serve me well in my future career.”
Samantha Weber has a background in athletic training (Concordia University of Wisconsin) and sport and exercise psychology (Northern Illinois University). She came to UofSC from Greenfield, Wisconsin to join the No 1 ranked Ph.D. in Exercise Science program after discussing the department’s graduate degree options with advisor and associate professor Toni Torres-McGehee. With her doctoral degree, Weber plans to pursue a tenure-track position in an athletic training program where she can both teach and conduct research. She is looking forward to being a graduate civic scholar because it will provide her with opportunities to network with colleagues at UofSC, sports medicine directors, and head athletic trainers around the state. The program will also provide a platform for her to advocate for athletic trainers and their needs at their respective universities.
“My research goals with the Graduate Civic Scholars Program are to increase awareness of mental health resources for athletes and determine the barriers for implementing mental health and wellness programs at other universities in South Carolina,” says Weber. “Mental health is often an overlooked, invisible problem many student athletes have and we want our athletic trainers and medical professionals to all be on board to provide optimal care.”
After growing up in Columbia, Maria Zubizarreta earned a bachelor’s degree in geology and environmental geosciences from the College of Charleston. She chose the Arnold School’s master of science in environmental health sciences program to further develop her understanding of how environmental pollutants affect aquatic organisms and human health. The interdisciplinary nature of public health and the interdependent connections among environmental science, biology, human health, and global studies appeal to Zubizarreta—leading her to pursue a career working for a lab or organization that addresses some of the world’s largest environmental health concerns.
“I am specifically interested in researching how anthropogenic pollutants influence marine mammal and human health and disease risk,” says Zubizarreta, whose graduate civic scholars project will involve working with Charleston Waterkeeper on outreach projects to effectively communicate information about keeping water ways clean. “Collaborating with students and mentors from other disciplines is a huge advantage of the program because this intersection between different academic areas of interest can allow for constructive feedback, discussion, and creativity with the projects being worked on.”
Each of the new graduate civic scholars will engage in a collaborative university-community project as proposed in their application materials. They will present their findings at Discover USC 2018 and will receive a transcript notation upon completion of the program.
The GCSP, begun in 2015, is organized by The Graduate School in cooperation with the Career Center, Office of the Vice President for Research, Office of Student Engagement, Graduate Student Association, and Center for Teaching Excellence. Allison Marsh (history) and Lucy Annang Ingram (health promotion, education, and behavior) serve as co-directors for 2017-2018.