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Toward Tomorrow Students respond to today’s pandemic while looking to the future.












MAKING THE ROUNDS News, updates and highlights from around the College

PANDEMIC PERSPECTIVES Current students, faculty and alumni share how COVID-19 has impacted and inspired them


LIFELONG DREAM REALIZED Brittany Whites’s journey to becoming a non-stop nurse



COMMENCEMENT Celebrating our graduates


Our cover photo is the sculpture that welcomes students, faculty, staff and the community to the Clinical Sciences Building on the campus of Minnesota State University Mankato. The name of the sculpture, “Toward Tomorrow,” by sculptor Tommy Riefe, perfectly sums up this issue of Pulse, our College community’s philosophy, and the spirit of our students.



Greetings, As I write this, the world is still in the midst of the evolving COVID-19 health pandemic. The words “uncharted,” “unprecedented,” “strange,” “uncertain” and “challenging” are routinely used to describe this situation. While they may be accurate, I also want to share with you the words that come to my mind: “innovation,” “resilience,” “optimism,” “success” and “hope.” These words are also accurate and reflect what I’ve seen from our students, faculty and staff—not just in the past several months, but continuously. Our collective priority this year—as always—is our students. I’ve heard endless stories of the many behind-the-scenes things faculty and staff have done to make sure our students were set up for success – an email, a phone call, a word of encouragement, an accommodation for greater flexibility, or an alternate experience, to name a few. One of those stories took place the same day as our virtual commencement ceremony in May. As our graduates were being honored, I had the opportunity to help create a video that will be used to train students who may not be able to complete necessary in-person clinical experiences. In the scenario, shown in the photos, I made my acting debut playing the role of a patient who had suffered a stroke. As a former professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, it was incredibly meaningful to play a part in helping students acquire necessary clinical skills. Throughout this issue you’ll see stories about our students and alumni moving forward. You’ll see stories of their resilience and commitment to the health and wellness of individuals, families and communities. You’ll also see articles about ongoing improvements to the overall educational experience for our students. Yes, we are working to be ready to meet the needs of students today while working to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Some of the changes and improvements include: ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶

Renovating nursing and other classrooms to increase capacity as well as to broaden access to state-of-the-art technology ensuring all students have opportunity to participate Adding the Experiential Education graduate program to our roster of programs in the Department of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services Expanding the number of students admitted to the Pre-Licensure Nursing program, Dental Hygiene program and the graduate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders, to address the shortage of employees in those professions Accepting Medicare and Medicaid, improving accessibility for the community to the Center for Communication Sciences and Disorders Broadening how we support students in their success through robust new campus initiatives called MavPass and MavConnect

There may be much that remains uncertain, but I am confident that our students, faculty and staff will be successful. I’m humbled, impressed and honored to share some stories that highlight their hope, optimism and big ideas. Thank you for keeping a finger on the pulse of the College of Allied Health and Nursing. I hope this publication finds you healthy and safe. Warm regards, Kris Retherford, Dean

College of Allied Health & Nursing Dr. Kristine Retherford, Dean Departments Dental Hygiene Family Consumer Science Health Science Human Performance Recreation, Parks & Leisure Services Speech, Hearing & Rehabilitation Services School of Nursing The College of Allied Health & Nursing is dedicated to promoting health and wellness through education and service to the state, region, and global community. The purpose of pulse is to share the ongoing commitment of the College of Allied Health & Nursing with students, alumni, donors, and the broader community. pulse is published annually and welcomes story ideas. Email: amyjo.lennartson@mnsu.edu


Spring 2020 Volume Seven

College of Allied Health & Nursing Minnesota State University, Mankato 124 Myers Field House Mankato, MN 56001 Phone: 507-389-6315 Managing Editor/Writer AmyJo Lennartson Designer Linda Clavel Contributing Writers Grace Brandt Elliott Floyd Jordan Hinz Alex Rivers Photographer Pat Christman Print Coordinator Ryan Schuh An Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity University. This document is available in alternative format to individuals with disabilities by calling the College of Allied Health and Nursing at 507-389-6315 (V), 800-627-3529 or 711 (MRS/TTY). AHNU149NE



Current students, faculty and alumni

Providing care to others—even in scary times—is essential

by Jordan Hinz, Communication Sciences and Disorders Our professors are also providing us with the opportunity to earn clinical hours through an online platform that allows students to practice with clients. Classes are now held virtually. Our professors have made every effort to make these meetings feel like we are in our classrooms on campus. However, it has been difficult from a social aspect not having the opportunity to see and interact with my classmates and professors who I have been on this journey with.

Jordan Hinz As a first-year graduate student, COVID-19 has had a great impact on my education and life. When the first college-related cancellations began, I became very concerned about what that would mean for my current speech and language therapy clients at Minnesota State University, Mankato as well as the courses I was enrolled in. We now meet with most of our clients virtually through Zoom or telepractice. I was initially worried about how this might change our quality of care, but the quality of our therapy remains the same, although the formatting and modality has changed. I am so grateful we can continue working with our amazing clients.


Thankfully, our professors have been extremely understanding and accommodating throughout this process. Personally, being at home every day has been a struggle at times. Some days are harder than others, but I think this situation has made me realize just how important my education, clients and peers are to me. I will never take for granted sitting through a three-hour lecture again!

Planning for the future As I move forward in my career, I think this crazy situation will benefit me in a few ways. For example, I am learning new ways to provide therapy to clients. It might be possible that teletherapy as we are experiencing now becomes more prevalent in the future, so I am glad I have gained that experience. I am hoping to work in an elementary school under the supervision of a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). We are required to obtain a set number of clinical hours in order to graduate with a master’s degree, so I hope things improve soon. Overall, I think this situation is a very scary learning experience. What is evident is that providing care to others is essential, and I look forward to my future as an SLP to be able to help those in need.

share how COVID-19 has impacted and inspired them


Teaching timely, real-world skills to children and families

by Alex Rivers, Family Consumer Science Education I haven’t written anything like this before, but this quarantine has made me think a lot about my amazing decision to become a Family Consumer Science (FACS) Education teacher. Many people are confused by the name Family Consumer Science and I am constantly explaining that it is the new name for “Home Ec”. This is typically followed by “oh so you teach kids how to cook and sew!”

I could probably make this list go on for a very long time, but I think you get the idea... So, the next time you hear someone saying that schools should provide “adulting” classes for students, tell them that FACS is doing just that! I’m proud to call myself a Family Consumer Science teacher and can’t wait for the opportunity to start teaching students just how prominent these topics are in the real world!

I’m going to share with you a little bit about why Family Consumer Science is so much more than that and why it is important for everyone to be aware of it! Below I made a (short) list of things that are happening RIGHT NOW across the globe during the pandemic that are related to topics taught in Family Consumer Science classes: ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶ ▶

Sewing face masks How to properly wash hands Budgeting for groceries/bills Creating/updating resumes for those who have been laid off Cooking more meals at home because #stayhome Cooking meals on a budget Talking to children about their emotions and change in routines Finding developmentally appropriate activities for our kiddos at home Many family dynamics may have changed as adult children move home, parents work from home, and kids are not at school, blended or single parents struggle with custody ▶ Relationships (friends, family, and significant other) are potentially strained with the quarantine and people are finding new ways to interact with one another

Alex Rivers

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Current students, faculty and alumni

Community health education alumni share how their work has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic

Protecting the Community

Shifting the message

“’You have been activated.’ Four words that changed my day-to-day work in an instant. Before being activated to assist with duties related to COVID-19, I worked on the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) worksite wellness and tobacco prevention strategies. The priorities of mini-grant management and meeting with community partners are now working from home screening phone calls, managing volunteers and providing virtual education to organizations on COVID-19. I don’t know how long this will last or when I’ll get back to my day-to-day duties, but I do know public health is at the forefront and will continue to prevent, promote and protect the community.”

“As someone focused on tobacco prevention and controlling the youth vaping epidemic, we are slightly shifting our messaging. At this time, we are aware that although youth vaping is not the immediate threat we face, using smoking or vaping products can increase risk for COVID-19 complications. Our organization is stressing the message that keeping your lungs healthy by refraining from smoking or vaping is an important protective factor during this pandemic.”

Pa Houa “PH” Moua, a graduate of the community health education program at Minnesota State Mankato, is now a community health specialist with Olmsted County Public Health in Rochester, Minn.


Liz Heimer, MS, CHES, a graduate of the community health education program at Minnesota State Mankato, is now a health promotion specialist with the American Lung Association

share how COVID-19 has impacted and inspired them


Investigating the progression of the pandemic in real time

“As we had to completely reformat our classes to an online format halfway through the semester, I revamped all my community health courses to include the pandemic. For example, in my writing-intensive Health Communications and Advocacy course for our community health education majors, in consultation with the students, we’ve updated the major term project for the class to “As the Pandemic Unfolds.” Students chose a specific topic concerning the pandemic, observed the situation as it happened and wrote a thesis paper. Examples include: •

“Who is Dr. Fauci? Background, training, and communication strengths demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Communication regarding the science, effectiveness and relevance of antibody convalescent plasma serum trials during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

• “How is social media shaping our fears of the coronavirus?”

Students created a presentation and recorded themselves on video for classmates to provide feedback and answer discussion questions. The purpose of the project was to improve technical writing and presentation communication skills by investigating the progression of the pandemic in real time.” Mary Kramer, Ph.D., MPH, MCHES, CWC, assistant professor, Department of Health Science and communications chair, Minnesota Society for Public Health Membership (MN-SOPHE)

Mary Kramer

We are so grateful for all our faculty, students and alumni who have been working and volunteering throughout the pandemic. Thank you! To learn more about how the College of Allied Health & Nursing is responding to the pandemic, please visit us at ahn.mnsu.edu and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. @CollegeofAHN


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Lifelong Dream Realized Determined and driven from an early age, Brittany White’s path to becoming a nurse would take her on a winding journey — but never far from home and never losing sight of her goals Brittany White, APRN, DNP, knew something not many kids know growing up—what she wanted to be. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” White said. “When I was little, I was in and out of clinics and always had a lot of influential nurses in my life. I knew I wanted to give back.” White wasted no time in pursuing her dream. She got a jump start on her college education by taking postsecondary classes in high school. By the time she enrolled at Hibbing Community College, which is a partner site for the Minnesota State University, Mankato School of Nursing, she was able to focus solely on nursing classes.

Home on the Range White’s first health care job was in a nursing home. She later worked as a triage nurse and a care coordinator. And even though she loved the work, it only made her want to broaden her education. The trick was, to pursue her education close to home so she could be near family and continue to serve the rural population she loves. “I just felt like I needed to do more for my patients so I decided to go back to school,” White said. “I had heard about the opportunities through Minnesota State Mankato during my time at Hibbing Community College and applied.” White then graduated from the Family Nurse Practitioner program through Minnesota State Mankato and become certified through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in 2017. She also worked at Bois Forte Medical Clinic in Nett Lake, located on the Bois Forte Reservation. Working on the Reservation, she said, allowed her to spend more time with patients, learn about cultural differences, expand her skills 6 COL LEGE O F A LLI ED HEA LT H & N UR S I N G

in dealing with complex health conditions and further immerse herself in the challenges of rural health care. “Rural health care is hard because you play many roles. Today for example, I’m the only DNP here,” White said during her interview for this story. “But students like me, who are from rural Minnesota, often want to work in rural Minnesota—it’s home.”

Receiving support—and confidence As White continued her education, she set her sights on getting a graduate degree in nursing and received a Becky Taylor Fellowship to help her do just that. The Fellowship, available through the Glen Taylor Nursing Institute for Family and Society at Minnesota State Mankato, provides Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students with financial support, allowing them to focus on improving health care for families. As it turns out, though, White would need to focus on her own family before helping others.

Just as she was starting her graduate program, her brother was in an accident, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down and fighting for his life. Her grandmother died from Alzheimer’s the same day as that accident. Then, in the last year of her DNP program, her fiancé landed in the hospital with severe complications from influenza. He required a ventilator and was in a medically induced coma to keep him alive. Through all of this, White was sitting by his side, working on her research and attending classes online. “My brother and my fiancé’s situations made me a better provider as I can relate to my patients who are going through difficult, life-altering changes,” White said. “It made me realize how fast life can change and that you need to pursue your dreams because tomorrow isn’t always promised.” Even with all of White’s personal and professional experiences, she credits the Fellowship, the faculty, and the flexibility of the hybrid nursing program for expanding high-quality health care education to Continued, next page

Brittany White, DNP, front with colleagues at Scenic Rivers Clinic. P U L S E | S PRI NG 2020 7

Continued from previous page

students in rural Minnesota and giving her just the boost she needed. “When you start a program like nursing, walking into a patient room for the first time can be intimidating,” White said. “But by the time I left Minnesota State Mankato, I was able to go into a patient room alone and do it with confidence.”

Nonstop Currently, White is working as a family practice provider at Scenic Rivers Health Care in northern Minnesota and raising two children. She has no plans to stop nursing but can’t help thinking about new ways she can continue to give back. With the COVID-19 pandemic, White and her colleagues are implementing telehealth appointments. Her facility was identified as an essential testing site for COVID-19 and she is doing some cross-training in the emergency room to be able to assist providers if case there’s a surge in patients. Not surprisingly, the

pandemic has sparked White’s interest to learn more about acute care so she can best meet the needs of patients who have severe injuries or illnesses. Also on her radar is learning more about how mental health can impact overall health. White says patients with mental health challenges are more likely to struggle managing chronic diseases such as diabetes. “I’ve thought about going to back for a psychology degree to better serve my patients,” White said. “Mental health impacts everything and it’s a big issue in family practice. I think that will continue to grow.” In addition to giving back through her work, White is also giving back to the institution that supported her by teaching an adjunct class in nursing at Minnesota State Mankato, working with students who are in similar situations as herself. “I absolutely love it all and wouldn’t change a thing,” White said. “Life can be a bit hectic but when it comes to health, I’m nonstop.”

Brittany White, APRN, DNP, (far right in top photo and far left bottom photo) and her Minnesota State Mankato classmates, Mark Lykins, APRN, CNP and Brittany Oberhelman, APRN, CNP, shown early in their nursing journey suturing pig’s feet during a class and also celebrating together as Family Nurse Practitioner graduates.


MAKING THETHE ROUNDS: Family Consumer Science MAKING ROUNDS Making the Rounds: News, updates, and highlights from around the College

Renovated food lab gives dietetic and nutrition students a taste of their future By Grace Brandt For 70 years, students have learned valuable life and professional skills through Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Family Consumer Science.

One of the highlights, however, was an overhaul of the department’s food lab, which hadn’t been renovated since the 1980s.

The department has grown and expanded over the years, eventually offering four majors: dietetics, child development and family studies, family consumer science education and foods and nutrition. Several minors are also now included, and the program has more than 280 students working toward degrees.

The renovation included knocking out a wall between two rooms to create a larger, open space, updating the lab with state-of-the-art appliances such as a combi oven (which can automatically cook six different trays of food to six different temperatures), commercial gas ranges and video screens that can double as computer monitors at every work station. The new space also includes commercial dishwashers, an herb garden, collaboration space and a display workstation with overhead cameras at the front.

Recently, the department went through another change, when the University completed a renovation of its space in Wiecking Center. The renovation included a muchneeded update of the building’s classrooms, office spaces and technology. High-tech video displays and flexible classroom spaces were added to better accommodate individuals of all abilities.

“Prior to the renovation, we didn’t even have enough electrical outlets, so were stringing cords for a blender,” said Joye Bond, a Family Consumer Science professor.

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MAKING THE ROUNDS: Continued from previous page

Bond said the new space creates a better experience for students because she can teach using equipment that her students will use upon graduation. During classes, students are also able to either gather around one large workstation for demonstrations or watch on monitors located around the room. Hannah Supan, a senior dietetics major, has experienced both the old and the new food labs. Not surprisingly, she greatly prefers the new one. “Everything we need is in this room,” Supan said. “As professionals in the field, the facilities that we’ll be working in are a lot more like this one than the one before. I think that’s important, just to understand how to use industrial equipment.” In addition to the food lab, the department also has its own food science lab, where students have the opportunity to test and research food down to its pH and moisture levels, as well as a sensory lab, where students can taste test foods in a highly controlled environment. These types of labs are unique at the university level. They also give students access to educational and real-world experiences that better prepare them for a wide range of careers—including clinical dietitians, wellness nutritionists, food service managers, youth home directors, family and parenting educators and other opportunities that promote the health and well-being of families. “I think we are kind of a hidden gem on this campus,” said Heather Von Bank, professor and chair of the Family Consumer Science Department. “We get a lot of students who come here for something else, and then find the Family Consumer Science program and end up finding a home here.”


Family Consumer Science

(Photos on pages 10-11: Pat Christman) Dietetics students prepare for careers as clinical dietitians, wellness nutritionists, food service managers and other in-demand careers in the renovated food lab. Even with the pandemic, 100% of dietetics majors were matched to internships in 2020. The lab also includes a food science and sensory lab, allowing students the opportunity to test and research food down to their pH and moisture levels.

pulse check: An update on this article since it was first written

“This was the first year of the new food lab and our graduating dietetics majors were pretty sad they were no longer able to use the space. It just ended. While students were certainly able to do some things from home and get feedback from faculty, this lab is crucial for students to interact and get that hands-on experience. It’s been hard, but I’ve seen a lot of resiliency and the students have gotten the job done. I’m just so proud of them. Our graduating students are happy and proud they had some time in the new space and our returning students are excited–as I am–to get back in this beautiful space.” – Joye Bond, professor, Department of Family Consumer Science P U L S E | S P RI NG 2020 11


Health Science

OPIOID event highlights faculty research and connection to community As part of an ongoing effort to explore education, prevention and solutions surrounding the opioid crisis, the College of Allied Health and Nursing hosted an event earlier this year to focus on the local impact of the national epidemic. The event, called “Addressing the Opioid Crisis,” was co-sponsored by Twin Cities Public Television and Mayo Clinic Health System and featured a documentary viewing, a panel discussion and a standing-room-only crowd. “This epidemic continues, and we don’t take it lightly as we work with students and the community,” said Thad Shunkwiler, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Science. Across the College, faculty are actively engaged in research and outreach about opioids—here’s a sampling:

in rural communities and the elderly. “What we’re really finding is that rural elderly citizens are specifically being heavily impacted by opioids, and about half of people who overdose in rural communities are aged 65 and older.”

Amy Haycraft, an assistant professor in the School of Nursing, has researched opioid use during pregnancy, including reporting standards and implications for improving practice. “To improve outcomes, a non-criminalized, non- punitive, supportive multidisciplinary approach consisting of early substance use screening/ identification, comprehensive referrals, and long-term support service is necessary.”

Shunkwiler, who is also a licensed mental professional, focuses his research on adolescent substance use and the intersection of substance use and mental health. He also notes there is a racial discrepancy around opioid use, calling the epidemic both a “health care and a social justice issue.”

Jennifer Londgren, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Science, has been researching the impact of opioids specifically

LEARN MORE: The complete video of the “Addressing the Opioid” event is available at https://link.mnsu.edu/858



Dental Education

BIG IDEA: Integrating oral health care with overall health Dental hygiene students at Minnesota State University, Mankato are helping pilot a new project that integrates oral health care into well-child visits.

identify if the child could benefit from basic oral health care such as fluoride treatments, sealants or other preventative measures and receive care on the spot.

The pilot, taking place at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, gives families the option of receiving an oral health screening and treatment from Minnesota State Mankato’s dental hygiene students as part of the visit.

In the first few months of the pilot, the program treated more than 200 children, ages six months to 17 years old. “We are also able to educate the parents, which has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the program,” Cooper said.

Dr. Erin Westfall, D.O., a family physician Brigette Cooper, professor and chair of with Mayo Clinic Health System, said the Department of Dental Education Dr. Erin Westfall, Mayo Clinic the integration helps families, but also at Minnesota State Mankato, said this Health System (left), and Brigette helps dental hygiene students shift from unique project makes sense because oral Cooper, professor and chair of the Department of Dental Education. thinking about only oral health to looking health is among the top chronic diseases in at the patient as a whole. children. Cavities, which are preventable, are considered an infectious disease, and untreated “I hope this program helps students understand the dental care has been linked to stroke, heart disease and immense role oral health has in whole person health,” diabetes. Westfall said. “And, I’m hopeful that training students in this model will prepare them for the future of dentistry “The intent of this program is to treat children who may and shared delivery models.” not otherwise be seen and make a difference in these children’s oral health,” Cooper said. Cooper said most of her students haven’t thought about this type of partnership before and that this program Funded in part by Delta Dental of Minnesota and is helping them see themselves working in a different the Mankato Area Foundation, the pilot works like setting, realizing additional career opportunities. this: Dental hygiene students are available during certain times at the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine “This is the beginning of a movement and a very unique Department at Mayo Clinic Health System ‒ Eastridge. program in higher education,” Cooper said. “We know Those families who come in for a well-child visit are it can make a huge difference in the well-being of a given the option for an oral health care screening. child and are happy to help provide this opportunity to students and the community.” For those families who choose to do so, student hygienists—supervised by trained faculty—are able to

pulse check: Since this was written in early 2020, this unique medical-dental partnership was paused due to COVID-19. The pilot is planning to resume as students are permitted to return to clinical settings.

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Human Performance

Renovated exercise science lab improves research opportunities and honors an advocate for women athletes by Grace Brandt Students studying exercise science at Minnesota State University, Mankato now have the chance to work in a newly renovated, state-of-the-art laboratory— which features an updated name that better aligns with the discipline. The Dr. Viola Holbrook Exercise Physiology Center allows for innovative research to be conducted by graduate students and faculty, as well as serving as a teaching laboratory for undergraduate students learning core exercise testing and prescription concepts and skills. The new lab features several pieces of cuttingedge equipment, including a hydrostatic weighing tank, Bod Pod, a high-performance treadmill, one electromagnetically-braked and several mechanicallybraked bicycle ergometers, one portable and two stationary metabolic carts and the Polar Team Pro heart rate monitor system. Until recently, the space was simply called the “human performance lab,” but received a new name in honor of Dr. Viola Holbrook, who began teaching at Mankato State College in 1958 and served as a teacher, coach and assistant dean. She left the Exercise Science program an endowment to help maintain equipment and facilitate student research. “Not every department or every program has somebody who’s had such foresight and been so generous,” said Jeremy Frost, assistant professor and lab coordinator. “This is a huge benefit to the students.” A state-of-the-art treadmill with additional safety and performance features was also added. Frost said the new lab is far more convenient for students, since the renovation combined two previous lab spaces into one larger, open area.


“It’s quite a bit more functional,” Frost said. “It’s easier to have students in the lab and it allows them all to work together. There’s less downtime and more collaboration.” Frost said they are also constantly looking at which equipment to update to ensure students receive access to the latest “research-caliber” resources as they go through the program and prepare for their future in the fitness industry or allied health care field. When Frost came to the University three years ago, the program only offered lower-body exercise equipment for training and study, but they’ve added two upper body ergometers, one that allows you to “pedal” with only your arms and one that mimics the arm movements of cross country skiing, along with more bicycle ergometers. “We feel like we’re in a much better position to show the students what’s new and what’s relevant, and to conduct research with the latest equipment,” Frost said. “As we’re talking about concepts in class, we can now put them on industry-leading testing equipment to get realworld experience.”

Another important aspect to the program is being able to offer students the chance to conduct their own research. Frost said faculty are always trying to do new research in the fields in which students are interested and continuously strive to offer class and lab work that’s directly applicable to the professional duties and responsibilities expected of an exercise professional. The Exercise Science program currently has about 340 total students in both its undergraduate and graduate programs; those students will go on to become exercise physiologists, strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers, physical therapists, occupational therapists, athletic trainers and sport coaches. Zach Erickson, a second-year exercise science graduate student, said Minnesota State Mankato’s program has been particularly good at teaching basic concepts and then expanding them into more complex ideas. “I believe each individual course helped build on each other, creating a solid framework for my professional career,” Erickson said.

pulse check: an update on this article since it was first written

“We have shifted to using virtual labs and other online content that are helping provide students with laboratory experiences from a safe distance. However, we are missing seeing our students in person and are really looking forward to the sights and sounds of a bustling lab and providing handson laboratory experiences again soon.” – Dr. Jeremy Frost, assistant professor and lab coordinator

ABOUT DR. VIOLA HOLBROOK Dr. Viola “Vi” Holbrook graduated from Mankato State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education in 1945 and a Master of Science degree in 1959. She taught physical education and coached women’s track and field and gymnastics at the University from 1966-1974 while earning her Ph.D. in 1970 from the University of New Mexico. She served as a teacher, coach and assistant dean at Minnesota State Mankato. Vi belonged to several professional organizations in the Mankato area and was an active volunteer. She was also a dedicated host for exchange students and enjoyed fishing, gardening, golf and traveling. Prior to her death in 2005, she established an endowment fund and scholarships to support women student athletes, international students and graduate students in physical education. As a dedicated educator and champion for physical education and research, her legacy has created countless opportunities for students and faculty to continue her work. To hear the oral history of Dr. Viola Holbrook, visit https://link.mnsu.edu/85j

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Speech, Hearing and Rehabilitation Services

Telepractice provides unexpected opportunity for students and community Like many students in the College of Allied Health and Nursing, Paige Borreson receives real-world experience by working directly with patients to fulfill necessary hours to complete her classes. So, when the pandemic shut everything down, she was nervous. Borreson wondered how she would get her clinical hours in and was concerned about the clients she had just started working with in-person. The first-year graduate student in Communication Sciences & Disorders said at first the entire situation was daunting. “The shutdown certainly wasn’t part of the plan,” Borreson said. “I thought maybe it would be a temporary pause and didn’t think it would last as long as it did.”

internship coordinator, said increasing the use of telepractice had been anticipated, but COVID-19 put everything into fast-forward. “Getting telepractice up and running on an emergency basis was a huge shift for everyone,” Glogowski said. “Ideally, we may not have done it so fast, but we had to keep our students moving toward their goals.” Originally overwhelmed with switching from working with clients face-to-face to using telepractice in a short timeframe, Borreson credits faculty for encouraging her to remain focused on the goal: determining appropriate intervention activities for the clients.

“Without easy access to materials, I had to get creative,” Borreson said. But, thanks to Minnesota State “There was some trial and University, Mankato’s early error, but it forced me think investments in state-of-the Paige Borreson (on computer screen) connects more about each session with art equipment and technology, with faculty and clients using telepractice. clients and the techniques I Borreson was able to use use, research activities and telepractice to both fulfill her prove they are effective in working with clients.” classroom hours and continue to meet the needs of the clients she and faculty were working with. As the semester progressed, Borreson enjoyed using telepractice. Despite the challenges, the entire Telepractice—the use of technology to deliver speech experience will benefit her both in her upcoming classes language pathology and audiology services by linking as well as when she graduates. client and clinician for assessments, interventions or consultations — allowed Borreson and her peers to “Through all of this, I was able to quickly adapt, evaluate continue providing social skills groups to children with myself, make adjustments and apply that,” Borreson autism, literacy activities for elementary kids and therapy said. “I’m proud of myself, my peers and the faculty who for adults who have suffered stroke or brain damage. have been involved in the intricacies of how to continue to deliver services.” Kate Glogowski, director of the Center for Communication Sciences & Disorders and clinical


OPENING EYES—AND EARS—TO HEALTH-CARE CAREERS Audiology undergraduates share their passion with high school students who are exploring educational options and career paths To help high school students learn about health care careers they may be unfamiliar with, the College of Allied Health and Nursing participated in a program that allowed the students to explore a wide range of health care opportunities. The Health Care Career Exploration Program, sponsored by Mankato Area Public Schools and held in early 2020, provided high school students real-world experiences through clinic rotations, shadowing, observations and networking in a variety of settings including Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Communication Sciences and Disorders students Megan Pederson and Zoya Parsi help lead hands-on activities for high school seniors who are exploring health care careers.

One of the departments that participated was Speech, Hearing and Rehabilitation Services. Megan Mahowald, department chair and professor, said most high school students tend to first think of doctors and nurses when they think about a health-care careers—not necessarily audiologists. “We get a lot of students interested in nursing, but often, when they see other allied health professions it’s exciting for them,” Mahowald said. “We had one high school student who, when looking in an ear, said she could do this all the time. Who knows what that one experience sparked for that student?” Mahowald said Minnesota State Mankato students helped facilitate and share their own experience with high school students. That interaction, she says, makes the programs more relatable for high schoolers and gives college students additional real-world leadership skills. Zoya Parsi, who graduated in May 2020 with a BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders, was one of the students who volunteered to work with the high schoolers. “I probably had as much as fun as they did,”

Parsi said. “It was so cool to really explain audiology to others. It’s an important profession that changes lives.” Parsi guesses most of the students she met weren’t familiar with audiology before they came in but said that was part of her goal—to raise awareness. Besides, Parsi says it wasn’t that long ago that she was in high school facing the “what are you going to do next?” question. Like many students, Parsi said she came to Minnesota State Mankato with one career in mind but switched to audiology because she found it more interesting. Mahowald said that exploration is part of the journey— for high school students as well as those in college. “I encourage students to be open to new experiences with older adults, kids and people with disabilities,” Mahowald said. “It may not be a particular profession that inspires you, but it could be working with a certain population. You may not know until you’re immersed in it.”

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Recreation, Parks and Recreation Services

RECREATION THROUGH A COMPUTER SCREEN? Recent graduate spends last semester trying to keep kids and families active When Brandon Carlson started his Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services (RPLS) practicum in early 2020, he was helping plan summer programming for the community of St. Peter, Minnesota. Carlson, who graduated this spring with a double emphasis in resource management and leisure management, began the year engaged in planning a summer camp for kids in grades K-5, with themed activities, snacks and programs. “One of the themes for later in the summer was going to be around the Olympics,” Carlson said. “I even had a Minnesota State University, Mankato alumni rugby player lined up to work with the kids. But none of that is happening now.”

Instead, Carlson found himself helping design what has now become a familiar term: “alternative programming.” He researched online platforms, learned about “e-sports,” explored “to-go” kits for summer camps and coordinated activities—including fun runs—virtually. “I never thought recreation would be through a computer screen,” he said. Carlson, who chose to focus on resource management partially because he wanted to be outdoors, knows the role recreation plays in people’s overall health and wellbeing. He also knows how important it is to keep kids active and engaged—especially in the summer, with or without a pandemic. “Families need access to recreation and activities,” Carlson said. “It’s a big challenge now, trying to keep the community connected and making activities inclusive so that everyone can participate.” Carlson, who is from Minnetonka, plans to spend the summer reassessing his next steps. He would like to work in community education or be a recreation supervisor, and hopes his experience having to switch gears to online programming will ultimately help him. “I received a great education at Minnesota State Mankato,” Carlson said. “It ended through a different lens, but it may actually help up open up additional or different avenues for me. It’s an interesting way to start my career, that’s for sure.”

Brandon Carlson



“My time at Minnesota State

Experiential Education

Education program taught me how

University, Mankato in the Experiential to best serve my students and my

The College of Allied Health and Nursing is home to a wide variety of health-related graduate programs and certificates, including Experiential Education.

community—and eventually, the

Experiential Education integrates real-world, projectbased experiences with relevant and socially-conscience skills. This could include active learning, adventure education and/or cooperative education.

learning across difference, and

Students who enroll as graduate students may have career paths that range from corporate training to environmental education. Others work in nonprofits, schools or leading project-based learning in art, music, physical education or health and wellness.

State Mankato and how what I

College of Allied Health and Nursing Graduate and Certificate Programs


• • • • • • • • • • • •

people of Minnesota. This program fosters leading, teaching and meeting everyone—in and out of the classroom—where they’re at. I’m grateful for my time at Minnesota learned there has shaped my life.” - Tim Walz ’01, MS Experiential Education, Governor, State of

Athletic Training Communication Sciences and Disorders Exercise Physiology Experiential Education Family Consumer Science Education—100% online Community Health Education School Health Education Public Health Education Doctor of Nursing Practice Post Nursing Masters Sport and Exercise Psychology Sport Management—100% online

LEARN MORE: For more information about graduate and certificate programs in the College of Allied Health and Nursing, visit: ahn.mnsu.edu.

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CELEBRATING OUR GRADUATES Congratulations to the spring 2020 College of Allied Health & Nursing student commencement speakers! Our undergraduate speaker, Matthew Schiffman, BS, Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services, has his recorded speech available at mnsu.edu/mavgrad2020, and our graduate speaker’s speech is printed in full below.

Commencement Speech 2020 By Elliott Floyd, MA, Experiential Education

Thank you, Dean Retherford, distinguished faculty, proud families, and class of 2020. I am very honored to have the privilege to share this speech with all of you. For myself, and those of you around the state of Minnesota, our nation and the world, this day marks the beginning of a new journey. Throughout the course of our time at Minnesota State University, Mankato we have ridden many rapids on an educational and professional river. Some were strong and assailed us but for a time while others smoothly took their course, and yet, we have all made it to this point. As well, as I reflect back on my own journey, I too have navigated the holds of many a rapid and if I’ve taken anything away from it all, it would be first, to “seize the day” and lastly, “that there is more in us than we know.” When I first walked into the Experiential Education Graduate program, I was not sure of what I wanted to do, nor where I wanted to go. However, through time and effort I was able to craft classes that resonated the most with me, diving deep into the realms of my curiosities. I found things like parks and recreation, positive psychology, cognitive science and how nature can bolster human health and well-being. I submitted my first manuscript to an academic journal, was selected to give a TEDx talk, wrote a research grant, and I think I’m starting to actually enjoy APA formatting. Undoubtedly though, I could not have made it through this without the unwavering support of my professors and family, and I’m confident you all echo an analogous sentiment. For me, the remorse of not trying far outweighs that of the actual failure or success. As such, I resolved to “seize the day,” taking it upon myself to pass research ideas by professors, have hard conversations about concepts that 20 C O LLEGE O F A LLI E D HEA LT H & N UR S I N G

made my mind swirl, and above all take a risk. In the end, no one got hurt except my ego on occasion. Additionally, by taking the time to seize an opportunity and risk a failure, I learned that there is a lot more in me than I ever believed existed. And now, it is with this I leave you with today: “seize the day,” finding or creating your own opportunities with an unwavering resolve, not being afraid to fall. For falling is perhaps more educative than any success. Moreover, realize that when a rapid seems to have you tightly bound (and when you muster the courage the embrace it and be present), I hope you will find and begin to believe that there is undoubtedly more in you than you know. Congratulations class of 2020!

Elliott Floyd received his Master’s in Experiential Education in May 2020. Floyd, who is from Greenwood, South Carolina received his B.S. in Outdoor Education from North Greenville University. He is an aspiring scholar with interests in the cognitive sciences, and parks and recreation. In the future he hopes to pursue further graduate studies, investigating and conducting research into the neural mechanisms that underly time spent outdoors.

The Elusive Regalia

How Minnesota State Mankato helped make commencement special for one future health care leader It was the Thursday night before Minnesota State Mankato’s virtual commencement when my phone lit up with a message from a Kate Parsi, the proud mom of Zoya Parsi, who was just about to graduate with a degree in communication sciences and disorders. “I hope you can assist – I can’t imagine not having photos of Zoya in her regalia after all of this...can you help us?” Kate wrote. Several weeks prior, when it was announced that the in-person commencement ceremony wouldn’t take place, Kate sent a message to Kris Retherford, dean of the College of Allied Health and Nursing, saying that over the years, the dean had always encouraged students and families to reach out if they had a question. Kate did. She desperately wondered if there would be any way for students – even with no in-person ceremony - to purchase “graduation gear”. “If we could order the items and have the opportunity to ‘mock up’ a graduation with the meaningful symbols of the caps and gowns it could make the sting of not having a ceremony a little lighter,” Kate wrote. Dean Retherford forwarded the request, which made its way to the folks behind the scenes who had planned to cancel all regalia orders. After seeing this and other similar requests, coordinators shifted to giving students the option to purchase regalia, which Kate promptly did. Zoya’s cap, gown and honor’s medal were set to arrive in early May – a few days prior to commencement. So, when two days before graduation, the regalia hadn’t arrived, Kate messaged me. She said others who had ordered later than she had, already had theirs, and the delivery company couldn’t help her locate the package without a tracking number. I forwarded the message to Taylor Schmahl, who was working with commencement. That night, through a flurry of emails, two staff and one mom tried to piece together where the regalia was and if it had even been shipped. In one email Taylor wrote to me “my heart breaks in these situations” noting she knew everyone was doing everything they could to make commencement

as meaningful as possible for students. But, the regalia vendor, too, had staffing limitations due to COVID-19. Despite ordering early, there was no regalia or tracking number to be found. Between Thursday night and Friday morning – commencement eve – Taylor worked with Janine Haslach at the Barnes and Noble campus bookstore, to get Zoya’s regalia. Taylor then hand-delivered it to Zoya, who was still living in Mankato, but on her way to her hometown of Winona. With all that’s going on in the world, having the regalia could seem like a low priority. But to Kate, whose mother graduated from Minnesota State Mankato, and her daughter, who is planning to pursue her doctoral degree, it was everything. It symbolized all that Zoya and her fellow graduates worked for. It represented commitment, completion and transition. “A simple “thank you” does not seem to be enough,” Kate wrote in a follow up email. “This accommodation means a great deal to us. Thanks for caring, and thanks for doing something about the request. We are grateful Zoya chose a school that truly cares about its students and their families.” - Editor

LEARN MORE: To learn more about the symbolism of commencement apparel, watch all the spring 2020 undergraduate commencement speeches and to see a complete list of graduates, and the photo gallery, visit mnsu.edu/mavgrad2020

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College of Allied Health & Nursing Minnesota State University, Mankato 124 Myers Field House Mankato, MN 56001

Lead, Partner, Achieve.


“I taught 18 wonderful years in the Family Consumer Science (FCS) Department (formerly Home Economics) at Minnesota State University, Mankato. The students were dedicated to learning in their respective majors and I enjoyed getting to know them through advising, clubs and on field trips. During my time, I also learned from the experiences I had serving on University committees and from the leadership role when I was department chair. “As a lifelong learner, I remember the many years I studied for my advanced degrees and know that it required not only time, but also the financial means to get it done. For this reason, I want to assist FCS students through my financial contributions for scholarships. I especially want to help future FCS educators so that they will have the expertise to teach the diversity of students they will find in and out of the classroom. “I continue to stay connected with the FCS Department and am proud of the high-quality faculty who are educating students who will be the future in our challenging world.”

Grace Keir, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus

LEARN MORE: To learn more about how you can give back and how your donation can impact student success, contact Chris Hvinden at christopher.hvinden@mnsu.edu or call 507-389-5621.

Profile for Minnesota State University, Mankato

Pulse Magazine Spring 2020  

College of Allied Health and Nursing annual publication.

Pulse Magazine Spring 2020  

College of Allied Health and Nursing annual publication.