Public Health Students Visit the State Capitol

2019 SJSU Public Health Students meet Evan Low in the California State Assembly Chamber

Thirteen students from the undergraduate and graduate public health programs in the Health Science Department attended the 7th Annual CSU Health Policy Conference in Sacramento in late April.

The event brings together students and faculty throughout the CSU to the Capitol for a two-day conference on health policy and careers in state government. This annual conference draws high profile, dedicated state leaders, legislators, lobbyists, public health professionals, and student interns as invited speakers. Student participants learn about state history, observe legislative hearings, hear from fellow students about undergraduate and graduate programs in public health throughout the CSU, and engage in conversations with public health and policy professionals about careers in public health and state government.

Following two days of listening and observing, each school presents a one-minute summary of their experience and this is where everyone in the audience can hear and feel the dedication and the passion of public health students in their visions for improvement, equity, and justice.  Intermixed throughout these testimonials are commitments for continued engagement in health policy and a clear understanding of the power and impact of policy in our lives.

Each of the participating CSU Public Health programs continue to support this event because of what our students tell us about the experience. The event is meaningful and important to all who attend. Here are some overarching thoughts that this year’s group of SJSU students shared about their experience.

“This conference was inspiring. Being exposed to the state policy makers – I thought – wow – this is where things really happen!”

“Being there was really impactful. It made me re-evaluate my own life and the choices that I am making to better myself and my own knowledge.”

“The trip is really important because we learn a lot, but also because of the scale of the event. We are up there with students from other campus and seeing the ways in which the discipline and the profession spans so many topics and we are all working together for social justice. Wherever we all are, we have to come together and advocate for health and justice for all.”

“I was honored to be part of SJSU and it made me feel really proud to be a student here.  I felt it first when we had our picture taken with State Assembly member Evan Low. I felt so good about my decision to be a SJSU student.”

“Policy influences every facet of our life and regardless of our careers, policy will affect us and we all need to be engaged. Engagement might look different to different people, but it means we have to vote – at the very least – we have to read and we have to pay attention.”

“The system is for us and it is our job to hold our policy makers accountable for representing us.”

Health, Science & Recreation Student Richard Bridges and Dr. Monica Allen, HSR Faculty are Finalists in the CSU Research Competition

Congratulations are in order for Richard Bridges, MPH and Dr. Monica Allen, Faculty Mentor because  Richard has been selected as one of the finalists and SJSU representatives at the 33rd annual CSU Student Research Competition, April 26-27, 2019, at CSU Fullerton.

The title of Richard’s presentation is “Tertiary Treatment of Hepatitis C as Prevention for End Stage Liver Disease: A Qualitative Study Examining the Barriers and Facilitators to Treatment of Chronic HCV Among Current and Former Intravenous Drug Users.”

Please read more about Richard’s presentation by clicking the following links.
http://www.sjsu.edu/research/funding/funding-opportunities/student-research-competition/student-reserach-finalists/index.html

http://blogs.sjsu.edu/newsroom/2019/studentresearchcomp/

http://www.fullerton.edu/src2019/

This system-wide competition showcases the innovative research and creative activities of CSU undergraduate and graduate students in the full range of academic programs offered by the CSU.

We wish Richard and Monica all the best at this CSU-wide prestigious event next week!

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.