Undergraduate Program Updates
As we wrap up the 21-22 academic year, the undergraduate program in Biobehavioral Health continues to thrive, and a great deal of its success is attributable to the resiliency and overall excellence of our students. We have 277 students who either graduated in the fall or are due to graduate this spring, and over 10% of them earned graduation with distinction. Additionally, 424 of our students were on the Dean’s List for Fall 2021. Our students have also had a number of impressive individual achievements in 21-22, such as Laura Guay being named as a finalist to the Rhodes Scholarship (the first Penn Stater to receive such an honor since 2001), Katie Cardone winning the HHD Alumni Recognition of Student Excellence Award, and Claire Swedberg being awarded a Fulbright scholarship for graduate study in global health at Maastricht. These are just a few examples from a long list of inspirational BBH student accomplishments.
Despite all the limitations imposed by the pandemic, we have provided our students with plentiful opportunities to enrich their education. Our internship program and global health minor have continued to prosper, and our faculty have continued to involve undergraduates in their research programs—as evidenced by the impressive student work showcased at the 3rd Annual Undergraduate Research Forum. This year, our undergraduate program also began incorporating more experiential learning opportunities into our classes. As an example, students in our internship and global health programs recently traveled to Philadelphia to visit the Nationalities Service Center, an organization that provides a range of services for refugees, trafficking victims, and unaccompanied children; feedback from all involved with the trip has been overwhelmingly positive. We have other opportunities planned for fall, such as a trip to a meditation center as part of our Biobehavioral Aspects of Stress class and live brain dissections with anatomy students at Hershey Medical Center incorporated into our Neuroanatomy, Behavior, and Health class.
In short, even though we have faced challenges due both to the pandemic and the difficulty managing the growth of our major, our undergraduate program is in great health. Our students are committed and motivated, and they are graduating from our program ready to continue their studies or enter the professional world as strong representatives of the BBH program.
The Biobehavioral Health program at Penn State Harrisburg is celebrating a milestone at the end of this semester with the graduation of our first class of BBH students. Five of our students will be graduating this May, with an additional two students planning to complete their degrees during the summer session. Of our graduating students, four will continue their education at Penn State; three of them have been accepted to the Nursing's Second-Degree Program (Penn State Harrisburg and Penn State Altoona), and one has been accepted to the Master of Public Health at Penn State College of Medicine.
On a programming front, our proposal to add the Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Degree B.S. - M.P.H. option has been approved at the college level and is now waiting for final approval at the university level. Further, student interest in working with faculty members associated with the Douglas W. Pollock Center for Addiction Outreach and Research has led to the development of the Addiction Outreach and Community Education (ACE) Lab so that our students can interact with additional faculty members and serve their communities.
With the interest, growth, and expanded opportunities of the BBH program we will be welcoming the addition of a third full-time faculty member this coming fall, which will allow us to continue to provide high-quality education and research experiences for our students.
Penn State Lehigh Valley
Some of our Lehigh Valley Biobehavioral Heath students presented their research paper entitled, "The psychology of neoliberalism and rising mental health crisis in the return to normal college life during the COVID-19 pandemic" at the 2022 Eastern Sociological Society meetings in Boston, MA at a session called Health Inequality. They presented on March 13, 2022, at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
The overall theme of this year's ESS conference was "Strategic Sites and Ways for Sociology to Fight Inequality and Injustice". The students' paper, based on a semester long project in BBH411W in Fall 2021 semester, was peer review accepted for a "regular" paper presentation. The other four papers in the session include presenters from University of Connecticut, Indiana University, University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Harbin Institute of Technology.
Four students traveled to Boston: Fatima Said, Sabrina Sleiman, Dillon Trenge, and Lexis Brownstein. They were led by their BBH 411W Professor, Jennifer Parker, associate professor of sociology.