Monthly Archives: July 2015

Our Stellar Students, 2015: Jamie Altman, Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management

Hi! My name is Jamie Altman and I just finished my senior year at Penn State. I am a Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management major in the Commercial Recreation option. I’m originally from Laurel, Maryland and you’ll most likely find me outside enjoying the sunshine! At Penn State, I was involved in Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority and working at the Penn State Bookstore.

This summer, I’m completing my RPTM 495A internship requirement as an Activities Coordinator/Recreation Intern at Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida. Ocean Reef Club is an exclusive club that offers a wide variety of recreation pastimes to its members and guests.

Jamie Altman_1

As an intern, I move around from beach operations on Buccaneer Island, planning and leading summer camps with Reef Club Kids, helping out with various corporate group events, and working with the Member Events department in planning an Ultimate Summer Weekend event held in August. While it looks like paradise, it is actually a lot of work! The best part is that I get to interact with people from all around the world every day and each day is never the same as the one before.

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Here I am with the rest of the recreation team during our activities forum from June 4th (I’m in the blue shirt toward the right side!) As part of a team bonding experience, we later ended up covered in whipped cream, chocolate syrup, graham crackers, ketchup, mustard, and spaghetti! We even had a lip-sync battle with the Director of Recreation!Jamie Altman_3









I’ll be heading back to Happy Valley to walk across the stage in August. While I’m still not sure what I want to do after this internship, I do know that I really like the club culture. I like that there are many different departments that work together and that there is a relationship between the associates and members and guests of the club. The recreation industry is definitely for me!


Our Stellar Students, 2015: Kaylee Bangs, Biobehavioral Health

Kaylee Bangs PicHello, I’m Kaylee Bangs, a rising sophomore and Biobehavioral Health Major. Along with taking a
few classes and having the awesome job as a LEAP mentor, this summer has been filled with research here at University Park. I am from the small town of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania and, apart from my love of learning; I enjoy being outside as much as possible! After graduation, I really hope to join the Peace Corps before ending up in medical school. On the side of my other passions, I love to study early childhood development under the direction of Dr. Douglas Teti. I am very fortunate to have received a summer research grant proved by the John T. and Paige S. Smith Endowment for Undergraduate research that has enabled me to continue my work on infant sleep.

As a freshman, I was fulfilling my simple freshman duties of searching for possible research labs to work in. When I read the short blurb about project S.I.E.S.T.A. II, I knew I wanted to get involved right away. I was soon trained in watching videos of infant bedtime routines and learned to code certain infant behaviors along with parent-child interactions. However, coding wasn’t enough. I wanted to learn more. So, this summer I’ve gotten to start my own project. I am exploring the question “How does parental presence affect the quality of infant sleep”.

I think that parenting behaviors (and really all human behaviors) are very interesting to study because I feel that the impacts of simple behaviors are often overlooked. For example:  visiting your baby’s room throughout the night. Past research has demonstrated that greater parent presence and contact with the infant during the night is associated with poorer quality sleep in infants (Mindell et al., 2009, Sadeh et al., 2010). Dr. Teti’s Project SIESTA II has acquired approximately 100 videos of infant sleep across multiple ages as well as sleep data measured through actigraphs and nighttime video. Using these methods, the effect of parent presence and contact during the night on infant sleep quality can be studied in much greater depth and accuracy. This project could help determine what types of parental activities at night time best promote quality sleep for infants.

This seemed to be an overwhelming question at first as I had only previously been qualified to observe and quantify bedtime behaviors; however, I soon was taught how to run simple statistical tests in order to find correlations within our data. I am currently in the process of running data and testing different variables such as wake frequency, duration, and fragmentation in relation with parental presence at nighttime. I am so excited to continue my research throughout the summer and report back on what I have discovered.

Until then, back to watching infants sleep! Thanks for reading!

Our Stellar Students, 2015: Phoebe Canagarajah, Biobehavioral Health

Hello blogosphere! I’m a rising senior, double majoring in Anthropology and Biobehavioral Health and minoring in Global Health. With my belief that health is a universal human right, I’m pursuing a career in public health. I aspire to work in under-resourced areas, both domestically and internationally, using my research and advocacy skills to help people lead healthier lives. I’m also a local, from the State College area, but this summer I have the opportunity to travel out of the continent—and my comfort zone. Welcome to Senegal!

(This is a picture of the beach, so close to my apartment, it’s practically my backyard. Jealous yet?)

(This is a picture of the beach, so close to my apartment, it’s practically my backyard. Jealous yet?)

I have the pleasure of spending six weeks of my summer (almost five weeks down, a week and a half left!) in the beachside town of M’Bour, Senegal, as part of a fieldwork component for the Global Health minor. While there, I have been shadowing doctors at the local hospital, assisting in research about traditional healers, and conducting my own research on caregivers of diabetic patients. Along the way, I have been learning Senegalese culture, acquiring some Wolof, strengthening my French, and making new friends.

The biggest thing that I am doing here, thanks to funding from the College of HHD, is research for my thesis. Working with Dr. Rhonda BeLue, I’m studying whether caregivers, through their role in helping diabetic patients, are more motivated to prevent diabetes by changing their own health behaviors. This is one of the first times I’ve conducted research interviews, and they aren’t as simple or easy as they may seem on paper. So far, I’ve been learning more about the research process than about caregivers!

Firstly, interviews are long and exhausting. We ask people open-ended questions because we’re conducting qualitative research and because we want participants to tell us their own stories. However, this means every participant’s interview takes between thirty to forty minutes. Some days, I interview eight consecutive participants, totaling about four continuous hours, asking each the same questions, end on end.

Secondly, it is not only the relationship between the participant and I that matters during the interview, but also the relationship between me and my translator. This relationship is not something I have considered before, because it is rarely mentioned in academic articles. In order to have the best working relationship, we both have to respect and be patient with one another. Thankfully, I have been given a good-natured translator who has been working with his tedious and detail-oriented student patiently and tirelessly.

Finally, over the course of collecting data, my conclusions sometimes become unclear. I’m getting some of the answers I have expected to get, but I’ve also gotten some surprising ones I didn’t.

The shocking thing is that these interviews aren’t even the bulk of my work. Upon returning home, I have to compile and analyze my data, a task that is at once daunting and exciting. It’s a good thing I like the work I’m doing, and I look forward to discovering my conclusions!

Our Stellar Students, 2015: Jenny Dang, Nutritional Sciences

Major: Nutritional Sciences, emphasis in Community Nutrition and Food Security

Minor: Environmental Inquiry
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Extracurricular Activities: Teaching Assistant, UNICEF, Student Nutrition Association, Student Sustainability Advisory Council, FastStart Leadership Board, AASIA Coordinator

Jenny Dang_5Hi there! My name is Jenny Dang and I am a rising Senior studying Nutrition in hopes of becoming a Registered Dietitian. This summer I will be interning at the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh and Farm Truck Foods to fulfill a course in the Dietetics Program that requires students to complete a 300 hour field experience with a professional in a nutrition-related field. Students are expected to find a preceptor and I was lucky enough to find 2 RDs to take me on!

The Children’s Institute is the only free-standing pediatric rehabilitation specialty hospital in Pennsylvania and one of only twenty in the country. The organization is dedicated to children with special needs and offers programs for autism therapies, spinal cord injury, brain injury, functional feeding, reflex neurovascular dystrophy, and Prader-Willi Syndrome. While interning with the Nutrition & Food Service Department, I was exposed to different diets like gluten-free casein-free, ground, pureed, fat restricted, and calorie restricted. I consulted with patients for the diet orders, developed a Prader-Willi meal policy to improve patient satisfaction, and met with vendors and learned about current food trends at a US Food Fanatics Show.

The most exciting area I observed was the Center for Prader-Willi Syndrome, the world’s only hospital-based inpatient program. I noticed that an overall theme in Patient Services and The Day School is portion control, but it is especially important for Prader-Willi. Those with PW think about food constantly so if the smallest thing about their meal looks different, this can result in a behavioral problem. I learned how crucial it is to measure everything for correct portion sizes and to make sure everyone’s tray looks the same, not to just minimize any problems, but because they are on restricted diets of 600, 800, or 1000 calories for the whole day.

Jenny Dang_6This past week, I was a counselor for Cook Like A Chef, a camp that promotes good cooking and healthy lifestyles for 10-13 year olds. Each day consisted of a lesson on MyPlate, food demonstration and tasting, and cooking solely done by the kids. Each unit of 3 kids prepared a recipe together and then shared what they made for a family style lunch. It was a fun week and I was impressed by their cooking skills (and love of kale chips)!

For the rest of the summer, I will be interning at Farm Truck Foods, Pittsburgh’s first mobile farmers market! It is essentially a grocery store on a truck that will improve food security for children, families, and the elderly residing in food deserts. Their mission is to bridge the gap between farmers and community members by providing access to nutritious, affordable, and local foods. Some of my projects include presenting nutrition lessons, creating recipe cards, and doing cooking demonstrations.

I am learning so much and cannot believe how fast this summer is flying by – stay tuned to see what’s in store for me at FTF!

Shannon Rose, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Hello everyone, I am currently a rising senior majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. There is a little story that goes along with my choice of major and I would love to share it with you all. When I first got to college I was so unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. I considered entering the nursing, psychology, and criminal justice fields, but guess what? None of those selections were the perfect fit for me, so it was back to the drawing board I go.

During summer 2013 I worked at Queens College Summer Camp with children ages 8-13; it was then that the light bulb in my head shined brighter than ever. As I sat in the theater, engaging in deep conversation with one of my campers I realized that he experienced some difficulty with producing certain words and often took long pauses throughout our conversation. At that very moment my future career path could not have been any clearer. I automatically thought to myself, I have finally figured it out; I would like to be a Speech Language Pathologist for children of all ages. My genuine passion for aiding others and working with children are two of the main reasons why I am so sure of this profession. The thought of helping someone build confidence with their speech, along with watching each individual grow is simply invigorating and exciting.

I have a strong passion for working with children. So, can you guess where I am working this summer? Of course, I’m working in a summer camp with wonderful little people who come from all parts of the world. How lucky am I? I was given the opportunity to work at Camp Intrepid which is held at the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museumintrepid.

Are you wondering what the Intrepid is? Well, here’s a bit of information. Launched in 1943, the aircraft carrier Intrepid fought in World War II, and later served in the Cold War and Vietnam War. In 1974, the aircraft carrier was decommissioned, and today it is berthed on the Hudson River in New York City as the centerpiece of the museum. The museum is extremely serious about educating the youth and this is how Camp Intrepid came about.

At Camp Intrepid I was fortunate enough to land one of the three coveted Group Counselor positions. I am the group counselor for children ages 8-10 and the name of our group is called Junior Officers. Camp began on Monday and I must say it has been a fulfilling, engaging, and educational experience thus far. Throughout the past few days we have created survival bracelets, learn how to navigate a ship, create our own maps, observe sea creatures, and even went on a boat ride. I must say Camp Intrepid is not your ordinary camp but it is filled with extraordinary individuals who make camp worthwhile. I cannot wait to update you all on my awesome summer experience in a few short weeks.

Our Stellar Students, 2015: Danielle Connor, Kinesiology

M10011446_10201907736363145_954346687885079103_ny name is Danielle Connor, and I like to move. Whether it’s going for a run at dawn, swimming in the lake, or slowly, but surely, increasing my number of pushups, I love the feeling that exercise and movement give me. This led to my decision to study Kinesiology at Penn State, going from suburban Philadelphia to one of the most well-known towns on the east coast. After receiving outstanding textbook and social knowledge from my professors in KINES, I combined my love for kids and movement and put myself on the path to graduate school in occupational therapy. This summer I’m interning at Easter Seals, a non-profit, nationwide health agency that helps children and adults alike attain greater independence. The State College facility I’m with for the summer is a pre-school that integrates kids with disabilities (motor, speech, behavioral) with what’s called “typical” children – those who are normally developing. I’m working in a room with 3 & 4 year olds, so there’s learning every day both for me and the kids.

Day 1: “I have a gun.” Not two minutes into playing with my first group of kids comes this statement from a little boy, to which I respond by looking at the classroom’s lead teacher for some help. “No thank you. We don’t talk about that at school,” she replies. Interacting with the kids was my number one priority when I began, so I’ve been listening to better learn the way the teachers talk to them. It’s easy to accomplish with the more typically developing children, but it sometimes takes a little more thought for those with special needs.

Half of the kids in the classroom I work in have special needs or behavioral disorders, or they’ve received the overarching term “developmental delay,” something given to a child who is socially, physically or cognitively behind, but has not yet received a diagnosis. The other half of the kids are typically developing, and they set a great example of peer interaction for those that have difficulty with it. A child with Down’s Syndrome, for example, might not know how to play a game of Duck, Duck, Goose, so by watching what others his age do, how they cheer and react during “the chase” is important. They’re surrounded by one on one contact with parents, therapists and adults, but they don’t often click with others their age.

Easter Seals has an individualized education plan (IEP) for each child, and often letting them go test their social skills on the playground or at lunch is important – they don’t have that safe adult that understands their disorder and gives them special attention. It seemed sad to me sometimes when they ended up playing alone, but they’re trying every day to work on these skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives.