Spring 2017 Blog Series 10 of 10: Recreation Therapy Students Help Fellow Students in a New “Stress-Less” Biofeedback Lab

Do you have test anxiety? Worry about the outcomes of your current project? What about the stress of figuring out your career pathway? If you are just stressed about the rigors of college life or life in general, you may want to visit the “Stress-Less Tech Lab” at San José State University’s 1st floor of the Wellness Center.

“We are celebrating the first academic year of our Lab where students help students by facilitating biofeedback computer games designed to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety,” says Dr. Susan Ross, Assistant Professor and Director of Recreation Therapy and Complementary and Alternative Health Practices in the Health Science and Recreation Department, San José State University.

Students that work in the Stress-Less Tech Lab are enrolled in the RECL 148 class, Principles of Biofeedback. They attend class twice a week and gain invaluable experience during Lab hours of Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m and Thursdays noon to 4:00 p.m.

Biofeedback is a health-improvement intervention in which patrons learn to control (self-regulate) his or her body’s functions, such as the heart or respiration rate, by seeing signals from his or her body displayed on a computer display. Physical Therapists use biofeedback to help patients regain strength and movement in dysfunctional muscles. Recreation Therapists use it to treat clients with various physical conditions such as pain or migraine headaches or mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

“Biofeedback is a real time activity that measures the body’s stress response,” says Dr. Ross. In the first session students who visit the lab will see how their stressful thoughts immediately affect their biorhythms and how simple breathing techniques will cause improved inner harmony. Ross adds, “Randomized controlled trials have shown college students can decrease anxiety in as few as 5 training sessions.”

When clients enter the Biofeedback Lab they are immediately fitted with an ear piece that calibrates their heart rate. The Stress-Less Tech Lab utilizes HeartMath software that is also used at Stanford, Kaiser, Boeing, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, NASA and more. By measuring heart and pulse rate, the software program is able to determine the stress level of the individual.

“We can look at the data on the computer screen and determine your emotional and physical state by analyzing your heart rate variability.” Poor heart rate variability is a predictor of numerous medical conditions and psychosocial disorders such as depression, panic disorder, fatigue, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, ischemic heart disease, coronary heart disease (predicts sudden cardiac death), congestive heart failure, hypertension, weight gain and alcoholism.

Sessions generally take about 30 minutes. Student workers first obtain a baseline of two minutes of normal breathing.  Then a client’s stress response is recorded to gauge the clients’ psychophysiological response to stressors. Student workers teach peer clients a 6-Breaths breathing technique that involves slow and deep breathing, six in one minute, to induce an initial physiologically coherent state. Then student workers assess, debrief, and educate. Depending on the need of the student patron, the worker may lead the client through other basic breathing techniques such as a ball moving in a smooth sine wave. Other clients might play a computer game designed to change physiology and emotions from stress to peacefulness. Student experiences are debriefed and then there is closure.

“Other randomized controlled studies have shown that biofeedback can help students improve in their ability to pay attention, which means a great deal if they want to read textbooks, write papers, or listen to important lectures” says Dr. Ross. “Most of us carry some level of anxiety due to the many demands of daily life. In fact, the Stress-Less Tech Lab is open to not only students but faculty and staff as well.”

SJSU’s Stress-Less Tech Lab is the third lab of this type in the country. The other two can be found in the Recreation Therapy Department at East Carolina University and at University of North Carolina’s Chapel Hill Recreation Therapy Department. “We are so fortunate to have participation from nursing, kinesiology, psychology and nutrition classes yet we are still SJSU’s best kept secret.”

Photovoice Projects Now on View at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

Professor Edward Mamary, Health Science and Recreation, served as Principal Investigator on two Photovoice projects. Photovoice is a group analysis method combining photography with grassroots social action, and is commonly used in the fields of community development, public health, and education. Participants are asked to represent their communities or express their points of view by photographing scenes that highlight research themes. Common research themes may include community concerns, community assets, or health barriers and facilitators. These photographs are collaboratively interpreted, and narratives can be developed that explain how the photos highlight a particular research theme. These narratives are used to better understand the community and help plan health or social programs that address community needs.

“I am proud to say that two Photovoice projects will be sponsored for separate viewing by the San José State University Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” says Professor Mamary.  “They are scheduled to be exhibited in the second floor exhibit area of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library.”

The first community-based project “A Tapestry of Resilience: Wrestling with Our Jewish Experience,” showcases the lived experiences of Jewish community members in the San Francisco Bay Area and will be shown from November 9th through mid-day December 1st, 2016.  The second project, Living in an Unfinished America: Shared Experiences of Discrimination and Resilience by Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Americans,” will be showcased late-afternoon December 1st through December 21st, 2016.

“Given the current political environment, it is important that we invite the public to explore and gain insight into how groups of people have used their own voices to combat hate,” says Professor Mamary.   “Using the community engaged method of Photovoice, our participants in both groups have responded to prejudice and discrimination by sharing their own stories through photography and narrative.  Their stories not only reveal the challenges they have encountered, but how they have responded to these challenges with resilience, cultural pride, and self-determination.”

Photovoice Projects:

Not A Personal Choice

Not A Personal Choice

This picture portrays myself either putting on or taking off a scarf.  I used to wear the hijab, but I ended up taking it off.  To this day, I still struggle with the choice I’ve made, and I hope to one day put it back on.  We live in a society that encourages personal choice, just as long as it follows the norm.  But racism, prejudice, and stereotyping took away my personal choice and my freedom of religion.  It affected my job, my ability to make friends, my ability to be heard, and my ability to be happy.

—Verdah

To Hide or Stand Out?

To Hide Or To Stand Out

This photo shows people passing by my friend near Sather Gate as he stands there contemplating whether or not to display his Jewish Star on campus.  Two photos are layered on top of each other – one of him wearing the Star around his neck and one without – to give you a feeling of the frustration and sadness I feel as a college student.

Every day on campus, I have these feelings of isolation and having to choose whether to blend in and lose my identity or to stand out and be judged for my upbringing and religious and cultural ties. There have been several times on campus where I’ve walked by, and if I’m wearing a Jewish symbol, I get dirty looks. It is a constant struggle.

There are so many movements to accept people who are different, to not judge or stereotype them, but when it comes to Jews, we are seen as different and many think it is okay to cast their prejudices on us.

As a Jewish person, I feel I have to choose whether to hide or stand out.  Do I want to be labeled as a Jew, which has a lot of negative attention associated with it, or do I want to just blend in and hide my history and culture?

—Joshua

Miranda Worthen Recognized for Early Career Achievements

Congratulations to Miranda Worthen, Department of Health Science and Recreation Assistant Professor, for receiving the Early Career Investigator Award for 2016!

According to the Research Foundation, the award recognizes tenure-track faculty who have excelled in the areas of research, scholarship or creative activity as evidenced by their success in securing external funds for their research, publishing in peer reviewed publications, and demonstrating other scholarly and creative activities, at an early or beginning point in their career.

“I felt really honored to be recognized,” said Miranda as she was surprised to be awarded and had not considered applying for the award. She received a nomination from Anne Demers, Department Chair of Health Science and Recreation, soon after being encouraged to submit an application from the College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ Associate Dean of Research, Amy D’Andrade. Amy said that Miranda’s work is competitive and that she should apply.

Miranda’s work is interdisciplinary and includes epidemiology of psychosocial factors, the development of context-appropriate mixed methodologies that emphasize academic rigor and community validity, and intervention research. She focuses on social factors that mitigate or exacerbate the physical and mental health impact of exposure to violence and stress.

Strongly believing in paying it forward, Miranda plans to encourage other faculty to apply for grants and support them through the application process. She also believes that the award is a great example for her students as she promotes nominating themselves for scholarships and awards as sometimes it is hard for students to apply as they may have never won academic competitions.

“It is especially important to encourage our students to try their Luck. I’ll definitely share this experience to illustrate for my students that even when you don’t think you will be competitive, you might actually win.”

The College of Applied Sciences and Arts is proud of Miranda and looks forward to her continued success.

Committee to Enhance Equity and Diversity Awards

The 2015-16 CEED Award winners were recognized on April 26, 2016, for their excellence in promoting and fostering a deeper understanding of equity and diversity.

The 2015-16 CEED Award winners were recognized on April 26, 2016, for their excellence in promoting and fostering a deeper understanding of equity and diversity.

The College of Applied Sciences and Arts’ Committee to Enhance Equity and Diversity (CEED) reception was held on Tuesday, April 26, honoring six recipients whose combined effort and activities have made an important contribution to enhance equity and diversity at San José State University (SJSU) and/or in the community. CEED Award categories consist of an Undergraduate Student Award, Graduate Student Award, Faculty Award, Staff Award, and Student Organization Award.

The purpose of the CEED Awards is to recognize those individuals and groups that have demonstrated excellence in promoting and fostering a deeper understanding of equity and diversity as they relate to issues of age, class, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, religion and/or sexual orientation.

The recipients for the CEED Distinguished Service Award are:

Undergraduate Student Award – Navpreet Kaur, the Valley Foundation School of Nursing

Navpreet has led or been involved in several projects that promote equity and diversity on campus. In 2015, she led the Peace Pole Monument project that helped to place an official monument on campus. The Peace Pole is a hand-crafted wooden monument that has the message “May Peace Prevail On Earth” in the 12 most frequently used languages in Santa Clara County.

Navpreet also serves on the President’s Commission on Diversity which provides “input, recommendations, and advice to the President on effective ways to create a campus environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.” She initiated this project in an effort to counteract negative publicity related to diversity issues that were occurring on campus.

Graduate Student Award – Essraa Nawar, School of Information

Essraa Nawar is pursuing her passion to be a librarian focusing on programming and outreach in bringing diverse programming to the life of the libraries and the academic institutions she serves. One of Essraa’s strengths is her ability to create an atmosphere of awareness regarding ethnicity, gender, and religious diversity across campus.

She serves on the Chancellor’s Diversity Advisory Committee and developed a program on empowering Muslim women. Essraa coordinated the support of the Sikh American Community through Vaisakhi programming, an exhibition on demystifying the turban. She also spoke at a TED Talk in Munich, Germany, to further her diversity message to change the narrative of how people see Muslim women specifically and Muslim people in general.

Graduate Student Award – Cotton Stevenson, School of Journalism and Mass Communications

Cotton conceived the slogan “Diversity University” as part of a class project to make a difference at SJSU. He didn’t stop there. Cotton decided to make issues surrounding diversity and acceptance on the SJSU campus the focus of his second master’s degree. Because of him, we now have an annual Diversity Day at SJSU.

As a graphic artist, Stevenson created the logo for the event as well. He is now in the final stages of a documentary about the history and importance of diversity on this campus. He’s already completed several impressive interviews for this project which include Jeanne Wakatsuki, the author of Farewell to Manzanar, Erik Grotz, the student who suggested the Tommie Smith-John Carlos sculptures as well as with the artist who created it.

He was also awarded a proclamation by Rep. Zoe Lofgren for his commitment to “Diversity University.”

Faculty Award – Dr. William Armaline, Justice Studies

Dr. Armaline established and serves as coordinator of the Human Rights Program at SJSU. As a part of that initiative, he implemented the  popular Human Rights Minor, a program through which students gain an understanding of various human rights problems that affect their community, including racism, discrimination, and inequality. He is committed to raising awareness on campus to issues of equity and diversity.  As a part of this effort, he founded and continues to coordinate the annual human rights event.

He chairs the Human Rights Working Group, which serves as a platform for faculty to engage in issues of equity and diversity. Throughout his work, Dr. Armaline single handedly serves as a hub for students who are interested in increasing equity on campus.  He informally advises students on activism both on and off campus.

Dr. Armaline is also involved in numerous activities in the community.  He authored reports on social justice issues, served as a National Board Member in Save the Kids, a grass-roots organization dedicated to alternatives to end of the incarceration of youth, is a Council Member in the Santa Clara County Child Abuse Council. He most recently initiated a partnership with DeBug, a San José media, community organizing, and entrepreneurial collective that leads successful social justice campaigns to advance the rights of youth, workers, immigrants and those impacted by the criminal justice system.

Staff Award – Silvia La Rosa, School of Journalism and Mass Communications

In addition to providing extensive administrative support for more than 500 School of Journalism and Mass Communications (JMC) students and 22 faculty, Silvia is a committed advocate for SJSU diversity students.

Silvia offers extraordinary time and effort to advising and mentoring all students. She connects on a powerful level with JMC School Spanish speaking students. Her translation skills combined with her knowledge of university procedures and her deep passion for helping students find their voice and express their creativity has resulted in numerous success stories that are greatly admired and appreciated in our program.

In Fall 2015, she was a leading advocate for fundraising of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts international learning initiative. She played a significant role in helping persuade a special JMC guest, CNN Correspondent Sara Sidner from Los Angeles, to donate her William Randolph Hearst honorarium to start a newly created fund and campaign to raise scholarship money to help SJSU students from poor and under-represented communities to participate. She plays an instrumental role in helping the school director create Spanish community messages and promotions that invite Bay Area business and schools to partner with JMC.

Silvia always finds the time to encourage students and faculty.

Student Organization Award – Alpha Phi Sigma Iota Chapter, Justice Studies

A team of Iota Chapter members and alumni volunteered at the Center with the Prison Education Project (PEP), teaching the 7 week Academic Orientation Course.  They met every Friday with a group of formerly incarcerated individuals currently on parole.  They created presentations about college as well as give mini-lectures based on topics in Justice Studies majors (e.g. consequences of mass incarceration and juvenile justice).  A big component of this program is engaging the program participants in discussions about the topics presented as well as their interests and needs.  In addition, Iota chapter collected and donated 100 backpacks with everyday necessities and held a clothing drive on campus for the Santa Clara County Resource Reentry Center to give to their clients.

Congratulations to all 2015-16 CEED Award winners!

CEED Logo

CASA Faculty Recognized for Years of Service

San José State University held its 17th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 15, 2016, to celebrate faculty who have reached a significant milestone year. Honorees were given a special gift with the years of service engraved.

The College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) is very grateful for its wonderful faculty and is proud to acknowledge our faculty who were recognized for 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 years of service.

15 Years of Service

  • Antoinette Bloom, Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging
  • Richard Craig, Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Ziming Liu, School of Information
  • Jennifer Schachner, Kinesiology

20 Years of Service

  • Lisa Arieta Hayes, Social Work
  • Christine Di Salvo, Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Alice Hines, Social Work
  • Clarie Hollenbeck, Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging
  • Geoffrey Liu, School of Information
  • Lee Pate, Kinesiology
  • Diane Stuenkel, Nursing
  • Gilbert Villagran, Social Work

25 Years of Service

  • Yoko Baba, Justice Studies
  • Elizabeth Cara, Occupational Therapy
  • Gong Chen, Kinesiology
  • Buddy Gerstman, Health Science and Recreation
  • Nancy Megginson, Kinesiology
  • Fred Prochaska, Social Work
  • Bob Rucker, Journalism and Mass Communications

30 Years of Service

  • Kathy Abriam-Yago, Nursing
  • Christine Hooper, Nursing
  • Linda Main, School of Information
  • Jacquelyn McClure, Justice Studies
  • Judi Morrill, Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging
  • Kathleen Roe, Health Science and Recreation

40 Years of Service

  • William Tillinghast, Journalism and Mass Communications

Congratulations to all on reaching this service milestone with SJSU and thank you for your hard work and much dedication to the success of our students. We look forward to your ongoing contributions and a successful future!