Wednesday, August 27, 2014

UDC Offers Heath Screenings and Nutrition Education at the DC Job Fair

By Carilyne Vance
On Thursday, August 21, 2014, the CAUSES Department of Nursing lead a collaboration of Health Care agencies, to provide health screenings to participants of the Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s annual job fair. The event, held at the Washington Convention Center, was attended by over five hundred job seekers, of which many chose to utilize the free screening services. Basic services such as free blood pressure and mental health screenings and counseling were provided by participating providers such as: Med-Star Georgetown University Hospital, Howard University Hospital, the Nurse Practitioner Alliance, and the Nursing Department of the University of the District of Columbia. Special thanks to Dr. Pier Broadnax and her faculty for coordinating the providers.

In one instance, UDC’s Katrina Clark, along with Christine Kloby of the Nurse Practitioner Alliance, worked with 62 year-old District resident Renee, regarding her blood pressure screening results. They spoke with her about medication options and the importance of following up with her Internist. When asked of the service she was provided, she expressed that the session was not only informative, but was done in a caring and professional manner. She was not only appreciative of the information she received, but was impressed with the level of detail the professional’s offered and the sense of caring she felt. She felt that it was well worth her time and was glad that these services were so readily available. She was then referred to UDC’s Center for Nutrition Diet and Health’s table for nutrition education. 

“The job fair provided an excellent opportunity to educate District residents,” commented Dr. Lillie Monroe-Lord, Director, Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health.

Upcoming Events

Green Living Expo and Back to School Barbecue - September 11
Mark your calendars because the 2014 Green Living Expo DC will be here before you know it! This year’s annual event will be held on Thursday, September 11, at the University of the District of Columbia. The Expo will be held in conjunction with UDC’s Back to School BBQ! Collocating the two events will lead to meaningful experiences as we address how the University and local community can collaboratively continue to adopt sustainable initiatives beyond our event and into our everyday lives. Contact Dr. Kamran Zendehdel for more info.

First Harvest with City Orchard - September 14
Join Bread for the City as they celebrate their first harvest at City Orchard on Sunday, Sept. 14 from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. City Orchard is located at Muirkirk Farm, 12001 Old Baltimore Pike, Beltsville, Md., 20705. Click here for driving directions or use Google Maps

Meet the Expert: Claudia John, Institute of Gerontology

It is a pleasure and honor to join the leadership team here in the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia. As Project Specialist, the Institute of Gerontology (IOG) will continue its mission to serve the senior community of the District of Columbia with compassion and integrity. My goal for the Institute is to introduce interdisciplinary gerontology courses into the University’s curriculum, and to create a community resource for improving the lives of the elderly community. Together, we can fulfill the CAUSES motto “Healthy Cities – Healthy People” for DC residents of all ages. 

Claudia John (l) with Ms. Erma Long, 20+ year volunteer.
These are the words of Claudia John, the new Project Specialist for the Institute of Gerontology, a division of the CAUSES Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health. Ms. John has a genuine passion to serve people and especially senior citizens. She has over 12 years of work experience in Adult and Geriatric Health Services and more than 14 years of work experience in: program development and management, case management, budget management and formulation, and regulation enforcement. After graduating from college, she had the opportunity to educate and to provide public health services in a variety of health services facilitates within the state of Maryland, including government agencies, local health departments, hospitals, National Clearinghouse and Women's Health Center. 

IOG: Bodywise Senior Exercise Program

By Arielle Gerstein and Leslie Malone

Funded by the DC Office of Aging, the Institute of Gerontology runs the Bodywise exercise program, specifically designed to promote health, wellness, fitness and prevention knowledge for DC residents 60 years and older. Bodywise consists of water, stretch, walk and chair exercise classes. Each of these activities includes a health education component covering topics such as: the use of over-the counter drugs and prescription medication, blood pressure screening and the benefits of exercise for certain physical problems. The program also offers other opportunities for learning and socializing. By participating in the program, some of the benefits that may be achieved include: an increase in participant's cardiovascular efficiency, muscular strength, flexibility, and overall life satisfaction.

CAUSES research assistant Arielle Gerstein spoke with three senior citizens and long-time participants of the low-impact aerobics class: Marlanne Huy, Anita Velta and Beverly Hongfincher. They all agree that the benefit other than the physical effects is that the classes get them up and going in the morning. It’s also keeps up their spirit and gives them the opportunity to socialize. A group of women from the low-impact aerobics class get coffee after class regularly. There is a board for the Bodywise program that meets every two months to decide how to improve the program. 

Beverly says, “Each teacher brings something different.”  All the students feel grateful for the teachers and the opportunity to participate in this program.

Liliane Weinrob has been taking yoga for four years through the program. She also takes spin and gymnastics. She loves the social aspect of the classes and her only complaint is the classes aren’t offered more frequently. June Humbert, a fellow yoga participant, describes yoga as “very good for body and mind.”  Celestine Brown has been taking yoga for 15 years because it helps with her back problems. She says it’s “keeping me going.” 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Meet Siaka Nuah, GSGA Vice President

by Arielle Gerstein

Siaka Nuah is the newly elected Vice President of the Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) of the University of the District of Columbia. His goal as vice president is to ensure all graduate students are informed about campus activities. This includes sending emails and notes from GSGA meetings to all graduate students. He also wants to provide students with more networking opportunities through lecture and academic series and symposiums. In addition, he wants graduate students to have an opportunity to be more involved in conferences and competitions that are scheduled on campus.

He is currently a graduate student in Water Resources Management in the Professional Science Master’s program, a division of the CAUSES Center of Sustainable Development. His focus is on water quality and modeling with an emphasis on geographic information systems (GIS). Siaka is from Liberia, a country with poor water quality and poor water management. Using in undergraduate degree in civil engineering, he wants to return to Liberia, after receiving a Ph.D., and see how best he can help find a solution to the country’s water issues, particularly access to clean drinking water. One of his future goals is to become an entrepreneur in his home country to be able to provide jobs for others also working on water quality issues.

As for his role as vice president, he says, “I’m very happy to serve as vice president for the SGA to provide expertise in enhancing the academic structure of the institution and work with the graduate student community.”

Monday, August 25, 2014

IOG: Senior Companion / Respite Aide Program

The Institute of Gerontology's Senior Companion/Respite Aide (SC/RA) program allows the District's seniors to assist their fellow senior citizens through volunteerism. The program helps to preserve the independence of residents of the District of Columbia, supporting low income and disabled older persons 55 years and older with high quality and compassionate volunteer service. SC/RA volunteers receive a stipend and benefits, which help to improve their economic conditions and maintaining a sense of self-worth. 

Now in its 34th year and with more than 70 senior volunteers, SC/RA is facing funding cuts ahead of the next fiscal year. So why is this this particular program of so much importance? Because it fulfills a civil service amongst our growing aging population - one that after a lifetime of experience, still finds itself as the growing, forgotten majority. 

SC/RA improves the lives of fellow seniors who are in need of assistance in order to maintain dignified and independent living in their homes and communities. Senior Companions serve older adults with disabilities or with terminal illnesses for 20 hours a week. Companions assist senior clients in essential ways, including offering companionship to isolated older adults, assisting with chores and adding richness to their clients’ lives. Respite Aides provides in-home assistance to seniors living alone and also provides support to the care-giving families. This service helps the individual and/or family deal with the challenges of independent living in older adulthood.

Ms. Denise Richardson

Ms. Denise Richardson, 65, has been a Senior Volunteer with the Institute of Gerontology for two years. She serves as a home companion to a visually-impaired neighbor, aged 87. Some of her responsibilities include opening and separating mail, preparing meals, grocery shopping, washing and folding clothes and preparing her daily medication. Ms. Richardson's parents lived until their early nineties, so taking care of her 87 year old neighbor makes her feel almost as if she still has a parent to care for. 

When asked why she applied to be a Senior Companion, she explained: "I'm doing what I feel I've been led to do. I feel like I'm doing the right thing because one day someone may have to do the same for me, and I want to feel that what I've done will allow someone to be there for me when the time comes." She continued: "Most people want to be taken care of at home, not somewhere where no one is paying attention; you tend to get better care when it's one on one."

IOG: Senior In-Service Training

Senior volunteers attend In-Service at UDC.
Participants in the Institute of Gerontology's Senior Companion / Respite Aide program gather once a month at UDC’s Van Ness campus for “In-Service.” This is the term for when the almost 100 senior volunteers meet for half a day, training, fellowship, fun and to take care of program-related housekeeping items. The In-Service trainings are mandatory per the terms of the grant that funds the SC / RA program. 

"I believe that seniors should be able to age gracefully and with dignity,” she passionately explained to the seniors attending the training at UDC's flagship campus. "I see seniors as a crown jewel of society; knowledge, wisdom and experience? Seniors have it," Ms. John said when introducing herself the following day to Asian and Pacific Islander volunteers, meeting them also for the first time. 

It may come as a surprise to many, but the Institute of Gerontology's volunteer program also has an Asian-American component. There are 11 Asian-American volunteers in the program, who attend a separate In-Service in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood. For this population, the volunteers are predominantly related to their clients--an important distinction because of the language barrier. 

"These clients need people who understand them and speak their language," explains Mr. Kenneth So, director of the Asian and Pacific Islander Senior Center. "And the volunteers often don't speak English either." 

That's where Mr. So comes in, serving as translator during the monthly sessions. When necessary, a client will address an issue with their Senior Companion, who then takes the problem to Mr. So, who in turn translates the concern to the Institute of Gerontology. Mr. So has help from Ms. Kay Gibb, a community outreach coordinator for the Metropolitan Police Department's Asian Liaison Unit. Ms. Gibb volunteers with the Asian and Pacific Islander Senior Center once per week. 

"D.C.'s Chinatown is diminishing and this population is close to my heart. To the Chinese culture, the seniors are crown jewels, as Ms. John said. And they have lots of experience and narratives to share," explained Ms. Gibb.

"For our seniors, because of the language barrier, sometimes they are not well informed in certain matters, so it's good to have the month In-service and guest speakers; such as today's session on Alzheimer's. There is a need for practical information on this and many more issues."
Asian-American volunteers meet separately and with a translator.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

IOG: Senior Tuition Program

The University of the District of Columbia has a program which offers free tuition for D.C. residents aged 65 and over; a policy instituted in 1978. The senior tuition program offers two free classes every semester. Senior D.C. residents matriculating in a degree program pay half of regular tuition. CAUSES research assistant Arielle Gerstein spoke with two long-time program participants about their experiences. 

Gerald Smith has a long past at UDC. He was a student at the Teachers College in the 1960s and worked for the Metro Transit System for 40 years. He’s been taking classes for 10 years and likes to take oil painting every fall. He’s also taken English, Spanish and math classes. He says about the program, “It’s a beautiful program, it’s truly great.”

Thursday, August 21, 2014

UDC to Launch Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate Program

The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is pleased to announce the launch of the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate Program, the first of many certificates to provide classroom and experiential knowledge to community residents. With the global population projected to increase to nine billion by 2050, and 70 percent of whom are expected to live in urban areas, building the capacity to feed the world remains a top priority. The District of Columbia continues to experience high growth as well. 

In response to this growing need, the certificate program will address urban agriculture, urban food production and urban agribusiness, and sustainable design for urban agriculture, providing more information to participants about small-scale, urban gardening and farming. These courses will utilize the Muirkirk Farm in Beltsville, Maryland, and other program sites throughout the District, to teach participants how to successfully grow produce as well as learn about the methods in which to make farming more sustainable.  The courses will also provide participants well-rounded knowledge about agriculture from designing small farms and gardens to understanding the nutritional makeup of different fruits and vegetables.

“We use the research conducted at our farm and landgrant centers to develop community education programs that help people translate what we do, to their own neighborhoods and households,” explains Dr. Sabine O’Hara, Dean of CAUSES. “By offering this certificate program, we are teaching people not only how to grow their own fresh food, but how to turn that knowledge into a viable business opportunity for their local communities.”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

CAUSES to Host Green Living Expo DC alongside 9th Annual Back to School BBQ

The 2014 Green Living DC Expo will be held on Thurs., Sept. 11, in conjunction with the 9th Annual Back to School BBQ for the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). Conjoining the two events will lead to meaningful experiences as the University explores how it and the local community can continue to collaborate in adopting sustainable initiatives beyond the Expo and in our everyday lives. The events will be held on Dennard Plaza on UDC’s Van Ness campus from 12:00 - 8:00 p.m. The Green Living Expo, which officially starts after the BBQ ends, is free and open to the public. 

New this year, events will be designed to be “Zero Waste,” meaning water bottles will be discouraged, refuse will be recycled, compostable and recycled paper and plastic goods will be used and food waste will be composted, among other environmentally-friendly initiatives. There will be various programs for kids to help them understand the concept of environmental sustainability. Kid-friendly events will be offered beginning at 3.30 p.m. and listening sessions geared toward adults will begin at 6:00 p.m.

Monday, August 11, 2014

UDC Faculty Published in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Congratulations to Drs. Tolessa Deksissa, Lily Liang, Suzan Harkness and Predeep Behera for having their research published in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning! The four UDC faculty members co-authored, "Fostering Significant Learning in Sciences," about experiential learning as taught in Summer Bridge in Environmental Science and Technology, a program funded by the National Science Foundation. The four week course was designed to provide high school and incoming college students with the essential skills necessary to succeed in college studies and beyond, while attracting them to the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Here's the abstract for the scholarly article:


The new global economy depends on workforce competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics more than ever before. To prepare a strong workforce, attracting and educating underrepresented minority students in science is a challenge within our traditional American educational approach. To meet this challenge, fostering significant learning in science that nurtures 21st Century skills in students is crucial. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of a set of teaching and learning approaches that foster significant learning in sciences. Using a new introductory environmental science course in urban water quality management, the effect of a set of learner-centered teaching approaches, including hands-on learning, scientific inquiry, frequent feedback, and critical thinking exercises, was analyzed. The results of the pre- and post-course survey questions together with formative and summative assessments showed that our students’ cognitive learning skills and interests in learning science were significantly improved.

Friday, August 8, 2014

CAUSES TV: College Summit

There are many things that influence success in life. Yet there may be no factor that is more important than getting a good education. A college education continues to be the single most important predictor of economic success and career satisfaction.

Joining Dean O'Hara on this episode of CAUSES TV to talk more about the link between a college education and success are: Rustin Lewis, Executive Director, National Capital Region College Summit and Mardia Blyther, Program Director, National Capital Region College Summit.