Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
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School of Health Sciences and Human Performance | Clinical Exercise Science
A sure way to impress on a job interview is to answer questions with relevant examples drawn from experience. That’s exactly what Christine Giovinazzo ’11 did as a candidate for a position at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Christine drew on her experiences working with IC Fit Kids, a program on the Ithaca College campus designed to show children and teens the benefits of exercise and healthy living.
“A lot of my interview questions were scenario-based, and I was able to answer the majority of them based on my experiences working with the kids,” she says.
Those experiences ranged from developing customized fitness plans for kids—be they couch potatoes or promising athletes—to working with parents to address questions and alleviate concerns. It turned out to be great preparation for the interview at CHOP, which is one of the premiere hospitals for children in the country.
Days before she graduated from IC, Christine found out she landed the job as a physical therapy specialist in the hospital’s healthy weight program. Now, she trains children in different exercises and activities, and works with a range of other specialists in the hospital, all with the goal of guiding overweight and morbidly obese children to healthier futures.
Christine is positive the opportunity to work with a program like IC Fit Kids was one of the biggest reasons she got the job. The program gave her more hands-on experience than the average college graduate, she says.
“That was really something that impressed the interviewers,” Christine reflects. “I don’t think they often get candidates right out of college who have worked so directly with kids.”
>> More on this story: IC Fit Kids - Fuse
Computer science and history are not commonly paired in the classroom. But at Ithaca College, professors Ali Erkan and Michael Smith have begun a collaboration that may help improve the way students learn.
The project began because of computer science professor Ali Erkan’s curiosity. He wanted to look at how students use wikis—websites developed collaboratively by a community of users who can add and delete information—so he could research and create a visual map of the way the students make connections between ideas. He asked himself, If students produce things that can be visualized as structures, will that allow us to understand understanding itself?
“I think computer science allows you to develop the tools to work on that question—but then you need a context,” Ali says. “I thought the humanities would be the best context to explore, and I had to find the right person to work with.”
Ali had just the person in mind—a history professor he had met during a bus ride in Ithaca a couple years earlier and had since interacted with on the IC campus. He emailed Michael Smith to share his idea.
“The fact that Ithaca, both as an institution and a community, is small enough that you can have these kinds of interpersonal connections that can then become more formal collaborations is something I really value,” Michael says. “In some ways I’m an odd choice because I’m a little bit of a digital skeptic, but when Ali approached me with this idea of using wikis as a way of representing knowledge—that you could kind of lift up the hood and see some structures in there—I was intrigued.”
Ali and Michael have been working with students in both their fields to further explore the project’s questions. They created a grant proposal and received a digital humanities start-up grant from the National Endowment for Humanities. They hope that by gaining understanding of how thought connections are formed, they can eventually help students improve how they research and learn.
Ithaca College has given them the support they need to make the project a success. “It is a teaching-oriented institution, so we’re encouraged to be innovative and emphasize teaching excellence in all sorts of ways. So this is a way to remain active as scholars and at the same time improve what happens in our classroom,” says Michael.
“There’s no quota for the amount of papers you have to write or the amount of money you have to bring in. Those things are in place at other institutions so that there’s more research productivity, but I think it ends up being a hindrance on the research,” Ali says. “We both feel liberated by not operating under those constraints, so we can simply follow our curiosity, and that becomes our optimum point of operation. Because we are curious, we are productive.”
>> More on this story: Untangling the Web
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