Future health educators win state conference competition

KOKOMO, Ind. –  Educate. Advocate. Empower.

As future health educators, Kathryn Bushaw and Kristina MacLain will use what they’ve learned at Indiana University Kokomo to accomplish these goals.

They showcased their skills with a first-place finish in the Indiana Society for Public Health Education (InSOPHE) case study competition, creating a program to combat the likelihood that women released from the Indiana Women’s Prison will be re-incarcerated.

Both women are proud of this accomplishment.

“It was really cool to get to represent our school at something important, and to come home saying we won,” said Bushaw, from Logansport, who graduates in December. “I can look back at my time here and know I went out on top.

“We just set the bar for the students following us.”

Ghadah Alshuwaiyer, assistant professor of health science, encouraged them to team up, enter the competition, and attend the conference

It was the first time for both to attend and compete, and she was proud they won, besting teams from IUPUI and the University of Indianapolis.

“I believed in them. I knew they could do it,” she said. “I know they are passionate about public health, and they are committed to public health.”

Two weeks before the contest, each team received their case study, which outlined a scenario and challenged them to design a research-based health education program, including the seven core competencies of health education to address the issues.

They presented their final programs to a panel of 12 judges, all certified health educators, with only notecards to organize their thoughts — no PowerPoint slides, handouts, or papers allowed.

MacLain, from Kokomo, said they were well-prepared for the challenges from their classes. She had worried as a part-time student that she might forget what she learned in earlier semesters, but the conference showed her she had not.

“It was nice to prove that to myself,” she said. “There is something in each class that reflects back on the previous ones, so you’re continually building on your knowledge. When you get topics you get passionate about, it’s easy to talk about it. You’re feeling what you are saying, not just repeating something you wrote down.”

It was a confidence-booster for Bushaw, as she prepares to seek her first job in health education.

“Now I know I have the ability to get up in front of people,” she said. “I can be an advocate. I can stand up and say, ‘This is what we need to do.’”

Both appreciate the support of their faculty members, especially Alshuwaiyer, who pushed them to step out of their comfort zone and compete.

Alshuwaiyer plans to take additional students to the conference in the future, and said Bushaw and MacLain showed what students from IU Kokomo can do.

“This award shows our students have the tools to succeed,” she said. “It’s a matter of them going out and getting a job, and contributing to the community. That’s what they’re waiting for.”

Attending this conference is part of the IU Kokomo Experience and You (KEY) program. The program’s goal is to provide students chances to connect with people and participate in real-world experiences. The KEY program offers authentic learning experiences for students, starting with a supportive freshman learning community, and including travel, internships, connecting with people who work in their field, researching with faculty, and more.

Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.

SOURCE: News release from Indiana University Kokomo