RESEARCH PROJECT LINKS SYRACUSE ONLINE AND NEWHOUSE STUDENTS
For the past year, Newhouse students have benefited from a cooperative project between the school and Syracuse Online, a web site run by The Syracuse Newspapers. The project enables students to put their communication skills to use in a high-tech setting.
At the center of the arrangement is a research project led by visual and interactive communications professor Stephen Masiclat. With a grant from Advance Internet (AI), a subsidiary of Advance Publications (owner of The Syracuse Newspapers) that provides funding for Internet research, Masiclat is studying how college students use online news services. Syracuse Online is part of the AI group of web news services.
As Syracuse Online summer interns, two of Masiclat’s students, Graham Fleming ’01 and Holly Virkler ’02, gained important experience in their career fields. “I’ve had opportunities to design print and online advertisements as well as create large posters for events we sponsor,” Virkler says. “I did about 20 different projects that are great additions to my portfolio. It’s been a productive experience.”
Virkler, a graphic arts and psychology major, says one of the best parts of her internship was the variety of projects she worked on. “One week I worked with the marketing director [of Syracuse Online] to create a printed newsletter about the company that will eventually be sent to businesses,” she says.
Fleming helped organize some of the research collected on student Internet use and develop ideas for making Syracuse Online more useful for college students. The internship was a good career move for the public relations major. “My career interest lies in high-tech public relations, so working on this project with Syracuse Online was ideal,” he says.
Masiclat, who teaches web design courses at Newhouse, says the purpose of these internships is to encourage students to explore relationships between communications and technology. “I want students to ask, ‘How can we use this technology to the best effect?’” Masiclat says. “Then, I want them to come up with innovative answers to that question.”
Masiclat’s research project and the internships have reaped rewards. After analyzing the research, Masiclat shares the results with AI, which uses the data to improve its online services.
Syracuse Online also benefits from the interns’ work. Students quickly find themselves entrusted with the responsibilities of any employee. “The Newhouse students fit in well,” Syracuse Online general manager Michelle Sardinia says. “They’re already exposed to so much web technology through their studies and they’re willing to work hard.”
JOHNATHAN HAY and TAMMY DIDOMENICO
COURSE DRAWS ON RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PHYSICAL HEALTH AND SPIRITUAL AWARNESS
While Americans welcome the latest medical advances, many are also interested in incorporating spirituality into their treatment process. In response to this patient need, College of Nursing instructor Annette Becker created Spirituality in Nursing, a one-credit elective that evolved from a grant-writing project and debuted during the spring semester. “There is a value in addressing people in a very holistic manner,” Becker says.
Holistic healing is hardly a new concept for Becker. Her own experiences with spirituality have influenced what she believes nursing students should know about the relationship between physical health and spiritual awareness. She is encouraged by students’ growing interest in holistic care, and next spring she will offer a three-credit version of the course to all students. “Culturally, the timing is very good for this course,” she says. “There is a ripeness for this kind of teaching and a lot of research supports the benefits of prayer and health care.”
Nursing student Belen Hernandez ’01 was looking for a challenge last spring and found it in Becker’s course. “I never thought of nursing as spiritual,” she says. “I always thought of it as part of the health care system. What I learned is that true holistic nursing encompasses all aspects of the person—the mind, the body, and the spirit.”
Becker intended to challenge students in the course and encouraged them to delve deeply into their own spirituality. They kept weekly journals and were required to attend a worship service celebrating a faith other than their own. The students attended Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian, and Jewish services.
“The students learned a lot from these experiences, and the exposure helped them think more about where they are in their own spiritual journey,” Becker says. “The basic premise of the course is that the more self-awareness you have about your own spiritual journey, the more responsive you are to others’. In a service profession like nursing, a course like this can help students be more sensitive to the needs of others.”
Students also considered how their feelings about spirituality would fit into their own perceptions about the practice of nursing. Nursing student Joann D’Anna ’01 says the course came at a good time in her educational development. “I was touched by some things during my nursing internship last summer that made me wonder about spirituality,” she says, citing the deaths of some patients with whom she had become particularly close. “It’s important to have a good understanding of your own beliefs so you can help others.”
“The course definitely changed the way I look at my spiritual life,” Hernandez says. “It gave me a reason to look for who I am and what my faith is.”
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