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Georgia Southern senior companion coordinator recognized at Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities meeting

As coordinator of the Senior Companion Program at Georgia Southern, Deb Blackburn is constantly helping people. Earlier this summer Blackburn was recognized for her work by being named Community Collaborative Champion at the Second Annual Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) Region 5 Regional Community Collaborative Celebration.

Blackburn was nominated by June DiPolito, executive director of Pineland Behavioral Health/Developmental Disabilities, which is a public, not-for-profit, community-based organization that helps children, adolescents, adults and seniors who have a mental illness, developmental disabilities or addiction challenges to live more full and productive lives.

“(Blackburn) is the best partner anyone could ever ask for,” DiPolito said in her nomination. “She is not only actively involved in the Pineland area Community Collaborative, but you will find Deb volunteering her time and talents in every worthwhile community initiative. She was an initial member of our Pineland Community Collaborative and has not missed a regular meeting.”

Blackburn, who was surprised she was selected for the award, said she is appreciative of DiPolito’s nomination.

“The language (DiPolito) used made me feel good,” Blackburn said. “It’s nice to be recognized because I work really hard, and it was by someone I didn’t expect it from. I’ve been to meetings with her before so it’s not uncommon for me to go. She asked me to send a resume, but I didn’t know what it was for. I was like ‘Wow that’s how she feels about what I do for the community.’”

Blackburn has recently been working on an electronic resource guide, which she said is an information resource that has many applications for social workers in our community, those in need, or their family and friends.

“I volunteered to be on the committee for the electronic resource guide because I know how important mental health is,” she said. “I can always be certain that mental health is a part of the community, and it’s important to make sure that’s part of our efforts.”

DiPolito said Blackburn is one of the most dependable people she has worked with.

“(Blackburn) has a pure public servant’s heart and has dedicated her life to service to mankind,” DiPolito said. “She is a true hero in her commitment to the community collaborative. When you need someone to champion any cause to help others, you can call on Pineland’s Community Collaborative Hero — Deb Blackburn.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.


Georgia Southern Anthropology professor appointed to Georgia Department of Natural Resources board

Anthropology professor M. Jared Wood, Ph.D., has a passion for archeology and preservation, and he will play a large role in the preservation of historic resources in Georgia as a member of the Georgia National Register Review Board for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Wood was appointed to the board in July.

“I am honored to serve on this board,” he said. “Identifying, documenting and helping to preserve cultural resources from our past so they can be appreciated and shared with others is the heart of archaeology. In a world that’s always changing, we need these resources to know where we’ve come from and how to better accomplish what we want to be.”

Wood will provide expertise in archaeology to the board, which is composed of representatives from architecture, archaeology, history and architectural history, as well as at-large members. Members serve three- or four-year terms and are appointed by the commissioner of the Georgia DNR with input from the Georgia DNR Historic Preservation Division (HPD) director and deputy state historic preservation officer.

“The Georgia Southern archaeology program has a long and productive relationship with Georgia DNR HPD, as do other archaeologists in both the University System of Georgia and the private sector,” Wood said. “We work to identify shared goals, create partnerships and promote archaeology and outreach in Georgia. I happily accepted the nomination.”

Wood, who will also serve an advisory role for the Georgia DNR on various matters concerning historic preservation, attended his first board meeting in August and said he is excited about the new opportunities he will receive as a member of the board.

“Serving on the board allows me to directly support the DNR’s goals and see the incredible work that others are doing to identify, nominate and justify important properties in our state,” he said.

The National Register Review Board is maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior and consists of more than 80,000 properties in Georgia. The HPD invites nomination proposals from property owners, historical societies, preservation organizations, civic and business associations, governmental agencies, and others. Nominations are then reviewed by HPD and the board. Approved nominations are submitted by HPD to the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., for final review and listing.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.


Upcoming Succeeding Through Struggle Talk

Succeeding Through Struggle Poster

Nathan Palmer, Ph.D., will be discussing how to thrive academically even in the face of adversity during his upcoming talk Succeeding Through Struggle: Overcoming Adversity and Creating Opportunity with Dr. Nathan Palmer Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Nessmith-Lane Auditorium on the Statesboro Campus.

The talk will share the lessons Palmer learned as a person with multiple learning differences and struggled from pre-K to PhD. He was in the special education program and nearly failed out of college but was able to overcome and reach his goals.

The talk is free and open to all Georgia Southern students, faculty, staff and the public.

The event is a part of the First Year Experience Success Series and will be particularly interesting to first-semester students.


Departments Participate in STEMFest

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology along with other departments in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences shared various hands-on activities from their disciplines with the community and students at STEMFest last week. STEMFest was hosted by the Institute of Interdisciplinary STEM Education (i2STEMe) at the Nessmith-Lane Conference Center on the Statesboro Campus.

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology presented on topics such as cultural anthropology, physical and biological anthropology and sustainable seafood.

Attendees were able to view and touch items such as fossils, bones, hand-made pinch pots and skeletons.

The goal of STEMFest is to host an interactive event that gets PK-12 students and their parents excited about STEM education. Activities include a mobile innovation lab, launching Alka-seltzer rockets, archaeology projects, robotics, making ice cream with liquid nitrogen and more.


Georgia Southern child and family development major named student of the year by Georgia Association for the Education of Young Children

Georgia Southern University senior child and family development major Julissa Ortiz is building her resume as she prepares to begin her career. Being named student of the year by the Georgia Association for the Education of Young Children (GAEYC) will certainly help.

Ortiz, who also has a Spanish minor, said receiving the award is a huge honor for her. She will be recognized at the GAEYC’s annual conference on Oct. 5 in Alpharetta.

“There are so many people in the state of Georgia who are worthy of this award,” she said. “I am very lucky. This will truly be a special day, being recognized by an organization I admire so much.”

Ortiz was recommended for the award by her professor, Alice Hall, Ph.D. She said Hall has had a lasting effect on her time at Georgia Southern.

“I have had (Hall) for multiple classes including Parent Education and Guidance, Youth Development, Diversity in Human Development and Teaching Preschool,” Ortiz said. “She has taught me so much about our field. I couldn’t have received this award if it wasn’t for her. When she told me she was nominating me, I felt all my hard work was being recognized.”

Ortiz’ passion for her major is not confined to the classroom. She has participated in multiple projects outside of class that contribute to her love of interacting with and helping people, which is something she is passionate about.

“Recently, I was able to attend a dance for children with special needs,” Ortiz said. “The dance was hosted by the organization Parent to Parent, and it was so much fun. I remembered a lot of the children from when I volunteered at a summer camp for children with disabilities a few summers ago, and some even remembered me, which was really cool to know I had left an impact on them.”

Although she’s not sure exactly what career path she will take, Ortiz said she wants to work with either migrant families or an early intervention program, which is designed to help students who are at risk of not reaching or maintaining their academic grade level.

“Winning the award reminds me that my ideas and what I do can impact other people,” she said. “I can make a positive change in people’s lives, and that is what I love about my major.”

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. VisitGeorgiaSouthern.edu.