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Counseling Psychology team helps girls “see the best” in themselves

Dr Britney Brinkman Chatham University
Project members included Whitney Ringwald (University of Pittsburgh); Ashley Dandridge, PsyD; Britney Brinkman, Ph.D.; Sara Goodkind, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh); Kelsey Johnson, MSCP; Samantha Marino, MAP

In September 2016, a troubling report was released. It begins:

“Until very recently, little public attention has been focused on understanding the ways Black girls and women experience institutional racism and sexism. Over the last year, the national conversation about the experiences of Black girls has gained momentum. This report is an attempt to share some troubling local data in order to support additional conversation and draw public attention to these issues. Among its findings:

  • Black girls are suspended from the Pittsburgh Public Schools at more than three times the rate of white girls.
  • Black girls are referred to juvenile court three times more often than white girls nationally. In Allegheny County, it’s 11 times more often.”[1]

While black females are not incarcerated at the rate of black males, that’s not to say they fare better in schools. The phrase “pushout” is used to describe institutionalized racism and sexism that results in inequitable treatment of black girls in school, and the subsequent effects on their lives.

From this, it seems clear that furthering understanding of the girls’ lives—and of the girls themselves—is key to combatting institutionalized prejudice. And who better to tell you about that than, well—them?

“There’s a surge of research on African American girls right now, but we want to make sure that the body of research is informed by girls’ direct perspectives,” says Britney Brinkman, Ph.D., associate professor of counseling psychology and co-founder of Chatham’s Psychology of Gender Research Team.

In January 2017, Dr. Brinkman, along with the University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Sara Goodkind, launched a project as part of local non-profit Gwen’s Girls “See the Best in Me” campaign. “See the Best in Me” is an initiative focused on self-esteem, critical thinking, and advocacy skills that enable girls to better understand and express themselves about the issues that affect them daily.

The project involved about 80 girls, who participated in Gwen’s Girls after-school programs. They used a research method called photovoice to capture their experiences. “Rather than responding to questionnaires or focus group prompts, photovoice offers a broader way of expression, through photos but also drawing, poetry, and collage,” says team member Jeremy Holdorf, MSCP ’18.

For about six months, Dr. Brinkman, Holdorf, and the other members of the team met periodically with the girls to talk about how the photographing is going, bat around ideas, troubleshoot technology mishaps, and otherwise touch base.

The program culminated in a gallery exhibit at Chatham that ran from June 6-9. The exhibit displayed these photos by 26 girls, along with drawings and notecards from a workshop that included over 80 girls.  The goal was to share the work with as many people as possible, to counteract negative stereotypes and get more positive messages out into the community.

exhibit-33“We wanted to help kids connect their individual experiences to group experience,” explains Dr. Brinkman. “To help them see that it’s not just them; that other black girls might be having similar experiences. It lets us not only learn from individual experiences, but also paint a bigger picture of what’s going on.”

Dr. Brinkman takes an individualized approach to mentoring research assistants. “Part of our mentoring is getting to know each student, their strengths and growth edges. Jeremy has an MFA in film and video, and we’ve worked on how to connect these skills to psychology. Another team member has worked at Gwen’s Girls, and with her, it’s like ‘You’ve worked with these girls the most, so tell us when we’re missing something, and we’ll help develop your competencies in research methods.’ I love it when our team members have different strengths and our team is collaborative.”

Chatham University’s Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology and Doctor of Psychology in Counseling Psychology programs focus on the professional, intellectual, and personal growth of students, emphasizing human-centered values as well as evidence-informed treatment approaches. 

[1] Goodkind, Sara. (2016). Inequities Affecting Black Girls in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Pittsburgh, PA: FISA Foundation & The Heinz Endowments.

 

Campus Message from President Finegold

Dear Chatham Community,

Yesterday an article was published on PublicSource.org by a recent Chatham graduate and Public Source intern that focused on self-injury policies and procedures at Chatham and other universities.

Due to the nature of the article, which involved three former Chatham students (whose names were changed for the article), Chatham chose not to comment in specifics in order to respect and comply with privacy requirements for these and other students at Chatham. After reviewing the article, the University believes that it contains information that has been taken out-of-context and mischaracterizes the environment at Chatham.

Mental health is an issue of great importance to me and to all of Chatham, including the staff and faculty across the University dedicated to our students’ safety and well-being.  Our priority is, and continues to be, ensuring students get the help they need in a supportive and caring environment when dealing with self-injury and mental illness.  Most importantly, I want to stress for those students who are dealing with mental health issues, please know that our Counseling Services department and response team are here to support and help you, not to discipline you. I hope that you will reach out to them at any time you feel the need.

In support of this priority, I have asked today for the creation of a task force to undertake a review of our current policy language and procedures to identify if there are areas where we can improve. The task force will include:

  • Deanna Hamilton, Assistant Professor in our Counseling Psychology Department;
  • Sharon Novalis, Assistant Professor in our Occupational Therapy Department, who led the campus-wide initiative to partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention earlier this year;
  • Elsa Arce, Director for Counseling Services;
  • Zauyah Waite, VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students;
  • Other key staff and department liaisons

This task force will build on Chatham’s ongoing efforts to support students including the hiring earlier this year of another licensed psychologist for Counseling Services and additional wellness and mental health resources available to students across campus. Following the review of the task force, we will communicate their findings and recommendations accordingly.

Sincerely,

David Finegold
President

Campus Message on Charlottesville

Dear Chatham Community,

As Sue, the kids, and I were finishing up our summer vacation with her family in England this weekend, we were stunned by the news out of Charlottesville. Like millions of others around the world, we are shocked, angered and saddened at the racist and anti-Semitic demonstrations, hatred and violence that occurred. I immediately reached out to my friend, Professor Len Schoppa, who is a Dean at the University of Virginia to check if he and his family were okay, and to extend our sympathy on behalf of Chatham to the families of those who were killed and to those individuals who were injured and impacted by these horrific events.

As we prepare for the start of another academic year, I want to reaffirm Chatham’s commitment to our values of diversity, inclusion and respect. This is a commitment not just of shared values, but one that is also a central tenant of the University’s Mission: to prepare graduates who “recognize and respect diversity of culture, identity, and opinion.”  We all take great pride in being a part of a community where hatred and violence in any form have no place.    

The leaders of Chatham’s Diversity & Inclusion Council will send a follow-up message with additional information, events and resources that are available to students, faculty and staff over the next two weeks and throughout the academic year.  In the meantime, please join me in sympathy and solidarity with the University of Virginia and Charlottesville communities.

Sincerely,

David Finegold
President

 

Five Questions with Monica Riordan

Name: Monica Riordan
Title: Assistant Professor of Experimental Psychology
Joined Chatham: August 2012
Born & Raised: St. Louis, Missouri
Interests: family time, hiking, and travel

 

 

  1. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

My first job was at the YMCA when I was 15. I worked in the baby nursery and taught gymnastics classes and summer camps for children. I learned quite a lot about negotiating and compromise (especially from the toddlers), how to make boring tasks seem fun (like making up songs for stretching routines), and showing leadership skills when in charge of a group of many different personalities and interests.

  1. What aspect of your life before teaching best prepared you to do so?

Working with children is a fantastic training ground for just about any career you ever take in life. It teaches you to think on the fly, be flexible from one moment to another, always have a plan B (and often C and D), work with many different people of many different backgrounds and needs, develop coping skills for high-stress environments, and show grace under pressure.

  1. What makes teaching at Chatham special for you? 

At many universities, teacher-student interaction is limited to the classroom, but I have found at Chatham (for better or worse), students weave themselves into the teachers’ lives. They email me articles that they think will be interesting to me, they ask about my son, they invite me to their plays and sporting events, and greet me by name and a hearty “good morning!”

  1. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

Most students are eager to learn and they spend time trying to relate material to their own lives and come up with examples of how they see psychological theories acted out in the real world. This transfer of learning from paper to practice is heartening to me as a teacher.

  1. What is your passion?

I like to design experiments and collect data, but am happiest when analyzing the data in the hope of finally finding answers to questions. Despite my passion for research, though, writing, unfortunately, I find to be necessary drudgery.

Monica Riordan is an assistant professor in the Psychology department at Chatham.  She challenges her students to identify her one tattoo.

 

 

independent monitoring for quality

“What Independent Monitoring For Quality (IM4Q) allows us to do,” says Chatham Professor of Counseling Psychology Anthony Goreczny, PhD, “is to help improve the quality of life for people who have historically not had much choice or opportunity to do so.”

IM4Q is an information-gathering method used in Pennsylvania to improve the lives of individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability. The state has contracted with Chatham to conduct this research in Allegheny, Washington, and Greene counties. Dr. Goreczny is principal investigator for that work.

goreczny-anthony“Here’s how it works,” he says. “Each year, we receive a list—a random sample of individuals who are receiving services through Pennsylvania’s Office of Developmental Programs. Then we go out and interview them in teams of two. Typically, one of the two will be an individual with an intellectual disability (ID), or a family member of an individual with ID. We interview folks in their home, or wherever else they’d like to be interviewed, and ask them how satisfied they are with their lives, and with the services they’re receiving.”

“And we ask them an important question: what would improve your quality of life?”

“They might say that they want to go to a Pirates game, or to go to church services more often, or to take a college course of some sort,” he says. “We submit their request to the county, and the support coordinator has 45 days to take action toward making it happen.”

“When we first started, a lot of participants were interested in moving,” says Dr. Goreczny. “Now, there seems to be a movement toward empowerment and self-improvement for people with ID. Instead of just accepting their lot, they’re saying ‘I want better’ and it’s really neat. They want to take a college class, learn how to vote, become more integrated and included in the general community.”

Dr. Goreczny considers individuals with disabilities to be underserved yet rewarding populations to work with. “When it comes to people who want to go into the helping people professions, there tend to be three groups of people that they don’t want to work with: older adults, the chronically mentally ill, and people with developmental disabilities. However, research has shown that when we bring people into the fold of working with these populations during their training, it opens up a whole arena that they’d never considered working with.”

“I’ve had several people say to me that they never thought of this as a population they’d want to work with, but now it’s all they want to do.”

Dr. Goreczny estimates that over 100 Chatham students have been involved in IM4Q, both graduate and undergraduate, and their degrees of participation vary with their interest and availability. Chatham students conduct interviews, enter and analyze data, and even publish in scientific journals based on work they’ve done through the program.

“IM4Q gives them in-depth interviewing skills, and also the opportunity to do more research analysis,” he says. “Students who work on the project really feel good about it.”

One of these students is Terrie Haggey, PsyD ‘21, who came to Chatham from Maine for the Master of Psychology program and for the opportunity to work with Dr. Goreczny on the IM4Q program. She co-conducts interviews, and serves as the coordinator for IM4Q Washington county.

“Chatham was one of very few programs I found that has an emphasis on research with people with intellectual disability,” she says. “I’m already working on a couple of studies with Dr. Goreczny, and I haven’t even finished my Master’s degree yet.”

This summer, Haggey will be presenting results from a study at the annual American Psychological Association conference in Washington, DC, focusing on how the overlap of intellectual disabilities with physical or behavioral disabilities affects quality of life. “We in the United States have done very little research on this,” she says.

For Haggey’s doctoral work, she’s interested in looking at co-morbidities of mental health and intellectual disability, particularly with regard to what types of treatments individuals are getting. “It’s about healthcare equity,” she says. “Even when people with ID have access to healthcare, providers aren’t necessarily trained to work with them, so they’re maybe not getting the care that they could.”

Chatham University’s Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in Counseling Psychology program is one of a small number of APA-accredited Counseling Psychology PsyD programs in the nation. The program includes three years of coursework and practicum experiences, followed by a one-year internship.

 

 

Alumna profile: Hallie Dumont, Master of Interior Architecture ‘16

hallie

It was while working in home remodeling with her partner Jodi that Hallie Dumont’s eyes were opened to the unhealthy relationship that some people have with their homes.

“Big houses tend to be a burden, I think, for people,” she says. “They lend themselves to people holding on too too much stuff. My partner came in one day and found a homeowner lying on the floor one day curled up in the fetal position.”

Dumont and Jodi were working on a particularly big remodeling job. “It was a house for two people that was about 22,000 square feet—that’s about the size of a Walmart. It really flipped some sort of switch for me. The project just seemed so unsustainable. They probably had four air conditioning units for this one home for two people, and the material choices were just not intelligent as far as health or environment. I became very interested in the opposite end of the spectrum, which is the tiny house movement, micro-apartments—everything we call alternative housing.”

That brought her to Chatham. Dumont enrolled in the Master of Interior Architecture program, with the goal of concentrating on alternative housing.

‘From the beginning at Chatham I was interested in creating intelligent, smart, efficient residential spaces,” says Dumont. “So my thesis here was on pre-fab interiors, which isn’t really a thing but I made it a thing. I got an internship in Shadyside with an architect named Eric Fisher. I loved working under him; I learned so much. It was like having another studio course. I asked him if I could stay on and if we could design a tiny house (which I called the Nanohouse) over the summer. So I got to do that with him, which was awesome.”

“My goal was to build the Nanohouse, but when I tried to find funding, I realized that it was going to be really expensive. And building tiny houses for rich people wasn’t my goal.”

Eric Fisher had opened his studio space to all sorts of creative people working in Pittsburgh, and fortuitously, that’s where Dumont met her future business partner, Brian Gaudio, an architect recently returned to Pittsburgh from Central and South America. Brian was working to get his start-up, Module, off the ground. In Dumont, he found a kindred spirit and, what’s better, his future Chief Design Officer.

Tiny houses aren’t that new, but Module has some new takes on the idea. For one, they’re designed to be urban. “Normally when you see a tiny house, there’s all this open land around them,” says Dumont. “These are designed to be taken off a trailer and sat on a concrete foundation.” They’re also stackable. Second or third floors can be added, and additions can be added to the side or rear.

“What we’ve found is that the idea of a starter home—a home that you buy when you’re first starting out and then sell once it no longer meets your needs—isn’t really resonating with a lot of millennials. So Module’s solution is to offer alternative housing that can grow with you.”

“Module designs adaptable housing that changes as your needs do. Through a patent-pending wall system and design platform, Module provides first-time homebuyers with just the right amount of space at the right time.” – from Module’s website

What might that look like? There are a couple of prototypes.

One incorporates a built-in Air BnB unit, with a separate entrance and bedroom/bathroom that is totally cut off from the house. “It can help help supplement your mortgage payment at the beginning,” says Dumont, “but over time, the house can absorb that unit, so it can become a half-bedroom, maybe a workspace or a nursery, and the exterior entrance can be removed.”

image

Another design starts as a co-living space, but over time, as the owner makes more money or the family grows, the house can split. “You insert a party wall, and you get what’s basically a duplex. Each can have their own separate single family unit,” Dumont explains.

“I think the coolest thing is how excited people get about the idea. Everyone from baby boomers to millennials. That’s been really cool to see.”

“We designed and built a demo unit that would be attached to a larger house for a ‘faux client’,” says Dumont. “He likes to entertain and have family members over to stay, and he’s also a workaholic. It’s a space where he can play board games and have movie nights. A local furniture maker called Bones and All made a coffee table that can flip out into a card table, and there’s a Murphy bed that transitions into a desk unit.”

kennys-house

module-demo
“That unit was the first time I started with a blank piece of paper and a blank space and then made something real,” says Dumont. “In smaller units, every bit of space—down to a sixteenth of an inch—has to be accounted for. In this case, the furniture and the building were being constructed at the same time, so we had to hope all the measurements worked out. It ended up being really close. I had space under a window where we wanted to put in a bench seat, and we had to rip off an edge banding and trim down an outlet. I learned a lot on this project,” she laughs.

The unit will be on display throughout the summer on the North Side, and Dumont is excited to have people walk through it. “We’ve partnered with Comcast for it, and the unit incorporates their smart home technologies—integrated home security, automation, and energy management controls,” she says.

Chatham University’s Master of Interior Architecture is a first professional interior design program that prepares students for practice in an interior design or architecture firm. The program, accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), is geared toward students with undergraduate degrees in fields other than interior architecture or interior design.

Five Questions with Julie Slade

Name: Julie Slade
Title: RN-BSN Program Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Nursing
Joined Chatham: July 2010
Born & Raised: Born in Honolulu, Hawaii (my dad was in the military), I moved back to Pittsburgh, PA on my first birthday and have been here ever since
Interests: Nursing education, hospice/end-of-life nursing, spending time with my family and puppy, traveling

1.  How did you develop an interest in the field in which you teach?

When I was four, I told my mother that I wanted to be a nurse. To this day I don’t know where the idea came from, because neither I nor anyone in my family had been sick or in need of medical care. When I graduated from high school, I went straight into a 4-year program and earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. I worked in a few different intensive care units in local hospitals and eventually returned to school to earn my Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on nursing education and my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Even after earning my DNP degree I wasn’t sure where I was going to take my career. I applied for a job at Chatham as a Clinical (Practice Experience) Coordinator and fell in love with nursing education. Nowhere in my life plans or on my career path did it ever occur to me that I wanted to teach nursing. Somehow I always knew that I wanted to be a nurse.

2. What was your first job and what did you learn from it?

One summer break in high school I worked a temporary job doing filing, mailing, and a small amount of data entry. Every day, I reported to a woman who gave me my assignments. On several occasions, I would do them, and when I returned for more she would say “Why are you working so fast? Take your time. You’ll make the rest of us look bad.” I remember feeling very uneasy at this. Why do a job when I’m not going to do it to the best of my ability? Why waste time doing purposefully slow work? I learned that any job worth doing was worth doing well, and that anything less than my best effort was not good enough for me.

3. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

I mostly work with RN-BSN students—working adults who have completed an Associate or Diploma program and are now working towards a Bachelor degree in nursing. My students, by far, are my favorite part of my job. They are bright, motivated individuals who are making a difference in the lives of their patients but they don’t always realize how far they can go as individuals or how far they can take the profession. During the program, I see students grow and develop in ways that they didn’t even know they could and, by the end of the program, many realize they are the leaders I knew they could be. Often students reach out to me after graduation and ask for letters of recommendation because they are going on to even higher levels of education. Or students will reach out and tell me about new positions they are taking or endeavors they are conquering. I couldn’t be more proud!

4. What is your passion?

That’s a really hard question, especially because I don’t have just one passion. In nursing, I’m passionate about nursing education and hospice/end-of-life nursing. As a nurse educator I don’t currently work clinically at bedside. I feel that my job right now is to nurse nurses. Through my students, I touch a myriad of patients and by helping nurses be the best nurses they can be, I am improving the care patients receive.

Many people are afraid of death, understandably so, but I see death as a special time in life that none of us can avoid. I don’t believe anything will ever eliminate a person’s fear of death but, with proper care, the dying process can be greatly improved. Our country has a far way to go in making this a universal idea. I spend time learning about improvements in end-of-life care and sharing the knowledge I have in an effort to benefit patients and families facing end-of-life situations.

Outside of nursing I also have many passions; my most intense is probably for my family. I believe everyone should be the best version of himself or herself and I try to always give my all to those I love and care about.

5. What one individual had the greatest impact on you and how?

I don’t know that I could identify one individual that had the greatest impact on me. My father taught me the value of hard work and providing for your family. My mother taught me to be a strong woman and that anything is possible. My colleagues teach me how to continuously improve my teaching skills. My students are a constant source of inspiration. I truly can’t identify one individual as the most influential in my life.

Julie Slade is program coordinator and an assistant professor in Chatham’s Master of Science in Nursing Program. You may find her changing a tire on the weekends when she serves as her husband’s dirt track racing pit crew.

Five Questions with Kristin Harty


Name: Kristin Harty
Title: Chairperson/Program Director for Education
Joined Chatham: 2012
Born & Raised: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Interests: My children and their interests

  1. How did you develop an interest in the field in which you teach?

When I was a teenager, I volunteered in The John Merck Unit at Western Psychiatric Hospital.  That unit was specifically for children with dual diagnoses of an intellectual disability and mental health issue. I knew I wanted to be a teacher when I entered college, but had no idea that I could teach children with disabilities. As I was reviewing the advising sheet, one of the majors was special education! I knew then and there that I was going to be a special education teacher.

  1. What makes teaching at Chatham special for you?

My colleagues from all departments make Chatham special. They always have the students’ best interests in mind. I enjoy working with everyone and am very grateful they are willing to help me, even if I ask the same question ten times!

  1. What is your favorite thing about working with Chatham students?

They are the best part of my day! I love teaching! I enjoy getting to know students in and outside of the classroom.  I love when they drop by and ask a question or just stop and chat.

  1. What is your passion?

My passion is working to improve the lives of students with disabilities. I hope that I teach my students to treat people with disabilities with respect and to never place limitations on them.  Allow them to reach for the stars, you just might have to take a different path to get there.

  1. What one individual had the greatest impact on you and how?

My mom and dad! They are my biggest cheerleaders and they lead by example. They instilled the importance of education when I was young. My mom went to night school part time to get her BSN and we graduated together with our master’s degrees from the same university. It was very special having my mom right next to me during the commencement ceremony. My dad always said, “when you go to college“ (never if) and “once you get that degree, no one can take that away from you!” My parents’ love and support for me is what has led to my success.

Kristin Harty is an associate professor of Special Education in the Chatham University Education Department. She loves musicals where her children perform and work on stage crew and the whole family goes to see as many musicals as possible in Pittsburgh and New York.

 

Alumna Profile: Nicole Stout, DPT ’98

Dr. Nicole Stout
Dr. Nicole Stout

Chatham Doctor of Physical Therapy alumna Nicole Stout (’98), DPT, CLT-LANA, FAPTA was the recipient of a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the highest award membership category in the APTA, with only 250 Fellows among the roughly 95,000 members. The Catherine Worthingham Fellow designation honors individuals whose contributions to the profession through leadership, influence, and achievements demonstrate frequent and sustained efforts to advance the physical therapy profession. The award was made based on the contributions that Nicole has made in changing the landscape of the physical therapist practice in cancer rehabilitation. A renowned health care researcher, consultant, educator, and advocate, she is the chief executive officer of 3e Services, an information technology consulting firm.

In a recent interview, Nicole gave Chatham University some insight about her Chatham and life experiences.

Q: What brought you to Chatham?

A: I had applied to a number of graduate programs for a master’s in physical therapy and the admissions were quite selective. I was wait-listed at Chatham and was accepted into other programs in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Chicago. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh so my desire was to stay in my hometown. So when I was accepted to Chatham, it was a definite for me.

Q: What is a typical day in the life of Nicole Stout?

Nothing is typical about my days. It is rare that I string together more than three or four days that are even similar. I might start my day on a call with the Chief Data Officer’s office at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA…yes, airplanes) to touch base on how our Enterprise Information Management project is running, review status of deliverables that my team is responsible for and discuss strategy for expanding the data management and data analytics services. I might then be running to the airport to catch a flight to…pretty much anywhere. Recently it’s been to Buenos Aires to speak at an International Rehabilitation Medicine Conference on a Global Initiative in Cancer Rehabilitation, Kansas City to teach a continuing education course on cancer rehabilitation, or Rockville, Maryland to participate on a health IT expert panel to talk about wearable sensors and personal health analytics on behalf of Zansors LLC, a start up company to which I provide Medical Affairs consulting services.

I’m usually working on several projects all around cancer rehabilitation, health IT and wearable technology, and various enterprise data strategies. As I move between client calls and meetings, delivering webinars, and writing, I am also pretty keen about keeping up with communication and engagement on Twitter (find me at @nicolestoutpt).

I might also be working, on a given day, on the family foundation that we established after the death of my father. Our memorial fund raises money to support community projects in Pleasant Hills and Jefferson Hills communities in southern Allegheny County. We are currently working to fund and kick off groundbreaking for a walking and fitness trail in my hometown of Pleasant Hills.

If it’s a really good day, I get to play 18 holes of golf with my ladies league or with my husband at our golf club in Sarasota, and the best days are when I am cooking dinner and sit down to have dinner at home with my husband and get to sleep in my own bed.

Q: How did your Chatham education inform your work today with your company 3eServices?

A: Interestingly, the Chatham influence was very indirect on the business that I am currently running. 3e Services is a technology consulting firm, helping clients solve their problems through better use of technology. The most important thing I learned at Chatham was how to hone my skills in problem solving. In fact, I might argue that there is no greater skill set.

I deal with the process problems and the problems are very similar regardless of whether we’re talking about airplane data, or patient co-morbidity data; people have a lot of data, they need to understand how to bring it all together, analyze it, and learn how to change operations or improve based on the findings.

This is what we do in Physical Therapy every day! We try to bring together all of the relevant data, analyze it and make improvements based on the findings. If we miss the relevant data, if we work from flawed assumptions, or if we fail to execute (or execute incorrectly) based on our findings, we don’t succeed. Being able to step back and really identify the problem and recommend ways to fix the root of the problem are how my learning at Chatham has informed my work today.

Q: What advice would you give to our current students or students considering starting their higher education at Chatham?

A: When I graduated from Chatham our commencement speaker gave us this message “Go For It”. I say that often when I speak to graduating classes. Go For It, do something different, create something, take a risk and go all in. Have the wherewithal and grit to do the unglamorous work because that is the only way people succeed and sustain success. You can get lucky once, maybe even twice, but a strong work ethic and an open, exploratory attitude will keep you on positive growth trajectory.

Q: What is the best advice or experience that you have gained that prepared you to do what you are doing now?

There has been a lot of good advice along the way, but my own personal advice to myself is always “There is never a reason to be mean. Ever”

But, I have to say that the best advice that I received came in the way of actions that I saw in my mentors. Senior researchers sitting on the floor with me at 9 p.m. on a Friday night going through medical charts in a data validation exercise because our back up computer crashed and we had to guarantee the data integrity (this was before everyone had a cloud and 15 forms of back up). How easy would it have been for them to walk out the door at 5:00 and leave me (the junior) with all of that work? I saw my research mentor asking thoughtful questions to a young researcher with very flawed results at a national conference presentation. How easy would it have been for her to slam this youngster for the inadequacies in his methodology? But they always took the time to do the right thing. The actions that I saw from my mentors are the behaviors that I have come to replicate and I am so grateful that I was exposed to such stellar experiences.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

A: Spend time with my husband is first and foremost on that list. We love every minute of every day together. I enjoy golf, yoga, travel, museums and breathtaking art, music…I can’t live without music. I love to cook as it’s almost therapeutic for me to cook at the end of a crazy long busy day. My paternal grandmother was Italian and taught me to make pasta, sauce, literally everything from scratch. Veggies came from our garden and wine was what she made in the basement.

Q:  Anything else to add?

A: I think one of the most important things that I have learned about professional growth and success is to find way to find gratitude in all situations. Be grateful for opportunities that arise, appreciate that there was a really good reason that you chose not to take that job, even if you can’t fully put your finger on exactly why. Appreciate that not everything works out the way you want it to and that you don’t always win and you certainly don’t always get recognized. You have to be happy with your work and your choices and that has to come from within. Appreciating yourself and the hard work that you do is a huge first step in finding self-fulfillment. Until you love yourself and your work, it’s hard to truly appreciate much of anything else.