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South University Volunteers Help to Develop IT Skills in Autism Community

by South University
June 22, 2018
A photo of an information technology professional using a computer.

Angelo E. Thalassinidis, PhD, Chair of the Department of Information Systems and Technology at South University, Tampa, first started volunteering with the MacDonald Training Center (MTC) at their Help Desk around 7 years ago, and it’s a partnership that, over the years, has kept growing.

Founded in 1953, MTC was one of the first US preschools for children with disabilities and has been a leader in serving individuals with disabilities ever since. They currently offer educational, vocational, and residential support programs to individuals with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities in Tampa and Plant City, Florida.

IT Career Opportunities for People with Autism

By 2020, the US will have nearly 3 million adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and, of the current adults with ASD, 70-90% are categorized as underemployed or unemployed.

"There is a huge question as to how we can help this community escape the barriers to employment that they face," says Dr. Thalassinidis. "So, we are asking what more can the Macdonald Training Center do, as well as what can we as a department do to be more involved in addressing this issue."

According to the National Institute for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), part of the problem is that traditional efforts to employ these adults focus largely on social deficiencies rather than cognitive strengths. Interestingly, Dr. Thalassinidis and other academics note that many people with ASD have strengths uniquely suited for careers within the information technology field, including high-demand areas like cyber security. Not only do most people with ASD have average or above average IQs, NICE reports that many of these individuals are skilled in:

  • Critical thinking
  • Rapid pattern recognition
  • Efficient quantitative analysis of data
  • Precision focus

"There are tracks within information technology where people with differences perform much better than the average person," explains Dr. Thalassinidis. "In those areas, we need people with special skills, and some of those special skills are commonly found within the disability realm."

Building a Partnership & a Solution: South University & MTC

With curriculum development support from South University and Dr. Thalassinidis, MTC has recently launched an innovative training program, Excellence in Computer Education and Learning (EXCEL), designed to help prepare youth on the autism spectrum for careers in technical industries and positions.

Currently, the South University, Tampa department has one IT instructor teaching at MTC, an experience they hope to learn from and build on. “We are starting with a course on Microsoft Office Software right now, but the dream is to expand to cybersecurity,” says Dr. Thalassinidis, explaining that their first priority is understanding the educational needs and learning styles of this population.

In the near future, Dr. Thalassinidis hopes to start having South University students volunteer at MTC under the guidance of the IT instructor. He believes doing so will not only help the instructor reach more students but will also contribute to the University’s mission of helping to shape the character of our students.

"We strive to develop our students as citizens. We try constantly to instill volunteerism into their everyday life by engaging them in community events on and off campus," says Dr. Thalassinidis.

From working with and better integrating disability communities into society to offering local organizations a helping hand, this practice of supporting each other and focusing on our strengths is what Dr. Thalassinidis believes will help us to keep up with the technology that is continually reshaping our lives.

"By looking at and working on our strengths rather than our weaknesses, by looking at and embracing diversity and change, this is how we will be able to survive all of this disruptive innovation and evolution in technology that we are experiencing."

Learn more about the MacDonald Training Center here or about South University Information Systems and Technology programs here.

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Meet Claire Stigler: An Instructor Passionate about the Art of Teaching and Healing

by South University
June 18, 2018
A photo of Dr. Claire Stigler.

Dr. Claire Stigler is an Assistant Professor in the Public Health Department at South University, Austin.

She holds an MS in Human Biology from the University of Indianapolis, where she studied paleopathology and trauma in historic skeletal populations in the Archeology and Forensics Laboratory and the Indiana Prehistory Laboratory. Fascinated by the elegance and resilience of the human form, she pursued her Doctorate in Chiropractic medicine at National University of Health Sciences and earned her degree in 2013.

Dr. Stigler has been teaching anatomy and physiology courses to Public Health and Physical Therapy Assistant students at South University, Austin since 2015. She is passionate about science and medicine and strives to share the beauty and complexity of human anatomy with each of her students. She believes that, living in a global community, we all have a responsibility to leave things in better condition than when we found then. Working in education allows her to do exactly that, as she takes every opportunity to act with compassion and lead with a generous heart to provide a positive role model for her students.

Outside of teaching, Dr. Stigler maintains a private chiropractic practice in Austin and is currently completing her Applied Clinical Nutrition certification. In all things, Dr. Stigler aims to help others create the happiest, healthiest version of their lives and achieve their optimum level of wellness in mind, body, and spirit.

Learn more about South University, Austin and our program offerings today!

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Richmond Student and Faculty Volunteers Help Feed Local Communities

by South University
June 12, 2018
A young woman volunteering in a community kitchen

Community involvement and volunteerism is a big part of who we are at South University. Our mission is to foster not only academic and professional development but also personal growth in our students. South University, Richmond's support of FeedMore Community Kitchen is an excellent example of such work.

Every holiday season, the Richmond campus hosts an annual food drive to collect canned goods and other non-perishables for FeedMore Community Kitchen, central Virginia’s primary hunger-relief organization. With a service area stretching across 34 cities and counties, FeedMore helps nearly 200,000 children, families, and seniors who struggle with hunger in Central Virginia.

To grow the university's engagement with this vital community organization, student, faculty, and staff volunteers went to work this May in the FeedMore kitchen, preparing meals and learning more about their wide-ranging programs and initiatives to fight hunger.

South University volunteers packaged over 600 meals for the Meals on Wheels program and after school programs for local schoolchildren. The Community Kitchen makes nearly 3,000 meals daily for homebound seniors, disabled neighbors, after school programs, and adult day cares. Our volunteers worked as a team to prepare the deliveries, enjoying the opportunity to join in on community efforts to provide nutritious meals to local children, families, and seniors in need.

Learn more about FeedMore by visiting https://feedmore.org/.

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Richmond Nursing Students Receive Recognition & Praise

by South University
June 8, 2018
A photo of South University, Richmond nursing students Corina Nuckols and Amy Rankin.

Being a nurse can mean long days and hard work, but the personal reward of caring for others is immense. Recognition for that work can make being in this profession even more rewarding.

At South University, Richmond, the efforts and caring of our students and graduates is exceptional, and recently both their patients and members of the current healthcare community have been taking notice.

For example, this May, pending Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate Amy Rankin of South University, Richmond was selected for a DAISY Award, an award selected by patients to honor extraordinary nursing care.

Another pending BSN graduate, Morgan Woody, went above and beyond at her preceptor side. Her preceptor, Aimee Morris, shared with us the following:

"Morgan helped the patients back to their rooms, placed them back on monitors, and rounded on every single patient. She didn't even need to be asked to help, she just did it. She stepped up with confidence and helped us out tremendously! She is a huge help every day that she is here, but today she is definitely a rock star! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist her in her clinicals. She will make an excellent nurse!"

A third pending BSN graduate Corina Nuckols has already secured a position after graduation and her future employer Cynthia Newsome wrote to her to say:

"Trish was just blown away by you on Saturday. She came back here to the offices and shared with Karen and myself what an amazing clinician you are! She was just amazed that you were pretty much taking care of the patients with minimal assistance. I just wanted to share this with you so you know that, no matter how difficult these last weeks are, this is your Calling and you are going to be AMAZING!"

We are so proud of these BSN students for receiving such praise and for all of our dedicated, passionate student nurses who have so much to offer the Richmond community and beyond.

Considering starting or growing your nursing career? Explore our nursing programs today.

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School of Pharmacy Faculty & Student Published in US Pharmacist Journal

by South University
May 31, 2018
A photo of the South University, Columbia School of Pharmacy building.

When becoming a pharmacist, you promise to devote yourself to a "lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy."

As part of this oath, pharmacists dedicate themselves to improving patient care through continuous lifelong learning and unwavering professional advocacy. They also commit to doing all they can to prepare the next generation of pharmacists to follow in their footsteps.

Three of our School of Pharmacy faculty and one student have recently exemplified this oath and their commitment to knowledge development and sharing with their May 2018 publication, "Treacher Collins Syndrome," in the monthly US Pharmacist journal. The authors, all affiliated with the Doctor of Pharmacy program at South University, Columbia, include:

  • Dr. Natasha Colvin, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, South University, Columbia
  • Dr. Harskin Hayes, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, South University, Columbia
  • Dr. Alyson Shirer, Adjunct Instructor of Pharmacy Practice, South University, Columbia
  • Ms. Arnethia Wills, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate Class of 2018, South University, Columbia

Photos of Dr. Natasha Colvin,Dr. Harskin Hayes,Dr. Alyson Shirer,Ms. Arnethia Wills

According to their article, Treacher Collins syndrome, or TCS, is a rare genetic disease that occurs in approximately 1 in 50,000 live births and affects craniofacial development. The physical anomalies resulting from this disease can lead to hearing, eating, vision, and breathing problems.

Written to inform and support fellow pharmacy professionals, the article reviews the following:

  • TCS features
  • Risk factors
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment
  • Investigate treatment (or treatments currently in the research phase)
  • TCS in the media

"Although pharmacotherapy is not a major component of TCS treatment, familiarity with the disease, its management, and available resources may help pharmacists serve affected patients, their families, and the public,” the authors explain.

To read the full piece, visit the US Pharmacist website. Congratulations to all involved for developing this informative article and contributing to the education of pharmacists everywhere!

Learn more about South University’s Doctor of Pharmacy program today.

Source: The Oath of a Pharmacist

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