ATTACKING THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
G.P. Zurenda's concerns extend beyond his responsibilities as CEO of Elmira (New York) Stamping and Manufacturing. Some days, Zurenda '91 travels from his Elmira home to nearby Ithaca, where he runs a private practice as a psychiatric social worker. Needless to say, he has a full plate, but the journey to Ithaca is worth it to help others combat a serious illness.
Zurenda focuses on alcohol- and other drug-related issues because he believes substance abuse is an underlying factor in such crimes as rape, child molestation, and robbery. "What's worse," Zurenda says, "is that patients are undertreated or treated for the wrong things because the abuse is not detected."
To prepare social workers to identify these issues, Zurenda and the School of Social Work developed the Zurenda Fund for Alcohol and Other Drug Education and Research. "Regardless of the discipline, social workers run into abusers all the time and it is apparent that students don't get the proper education in this area," says Zurenda, who named the fund after his parents. "We need to increase the number of people in the field who can identify the problem because alcohol- and drug-related abuse is too often missed."
The program, conceived in 1995, primarily increases exposure of social work students to alcohol and drug issues in a variety of ways. It also educates social workers and other human services professionals on substance-abuse issues they encounter in their work, and cultivates research activities to promote the program.|
Professor Paul Caldwell, coordinator of Zurenda Fund activities, wants to help social workers become more effective. Caldwell says that although Zurenda Fund training can help students become alcohol and drug counselors, the field is much broader than that. The goal is for social work students to explore the many facets of the industry. "Social workers deal with clients for many reasons and, whatever the problem, it is often complicated by alcohol or drugs. The Zurenda Fund heightens students' awareness and ability to respond in different settings."
The Zurenda Fund has already made possible the development of a noontime seminar series featuring local practitioners speaking about their roles; a student scholarship, awarded for the first time during the 1997-98 academic year; support for faculty travel; dialogue with area human service providers about substance-abuse issues; and support for student assistance with faculty research.
Future plans include faculty-developed courses, plans for conferences, and visits by nationally known speakers. "I eventually want New York State to require all social work students to have alcohol and drug training so that when dealing with patients, they can identify the problem and make the appropriate intervention suggestions," Zurenda says.
NATALIE A. VALENTINE
SPEECH COMMUNICATIONS PROMOTES GREATER FLEXIBILITY IN RHETORICAL WORLD
If Julius Caesar, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan had been speech communication majors in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, they would have learned a lot more than just how to make influential speeches. "As a society we tend to devalue communication skills, but in fact we live in a rhetorical world and communication matters a great deal," says Arthur Jensen, chair and director of the Department of Speech Communication. "Our program rehabilitates communication and helps students understand how it comes into play in their personal lives, the workplace, and community."
According to Jensen, a speech course of 30 to 40 years ago would include oral interpretation of British-American literature, for example. "Now we examine everyday communication in a variety of contexts," he says. Students are exposed to many aspects of communication, whether it's studying the history of rhetoric or running an organization for a semester to experience the dynamics of leadership. Even with the shift in focus, the Department of Speech Communication offers a performance-oriented degree on the doctoral level, as well as undergraduate and master's level classes in speech writing, public speaking, and oral interpretation of literature.
Jensen also heavily promotes internships because "students need to observe communication patterns and test out particular industries to find what best suits their interests." Extracurricular activities are also a must, he says, and students can join the debate team to showcase their speech talents.|
Graduates succeed in the fields of public relations, law, media, entertainment, education, and speech pathology, among others. As a student, Leote Blacknore '93 was interested in television and radio, but she stumbled into the music industry after graduation. Starting out as executive assistant to Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs at Bad Boy Entertainment, Blacknore is now general manager of Untertainment Recordsan R&B, hip-hop, and jazz label under SONY Entertainment. She attributes her success to her speech communication background. "Daily, I deal with creative and business people," says Blacknore, who oversees five departments. "It's actually an aspect of psychology because I have to draw out of them what I need to make this a successful organization. Speech communication offers choices."
Arthur Jensen promotes flexibility with a speech communication major.
NATALIE A. VALENTINE