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Olga Salinas – UPDATE

Olga Salinas

Olga Salinas co-presented with colleagues from Washington State University at the National Association of Academic Advisors Region 8 annual conference, held April 10-12 in Missoula, Montana.The session focused on addressing the variety of stressors experienced by high-achieving students in health-related majors. Topics covered included information on imposter syndrome, stereotype threat, the differences and effects of stress and distress, and some counseling and practical techniques to help students regain the confidence to continue their studies. This content is relevant and important because even after the achievement of gaining admission to competitive health programs, many students experience considerable negative stress and anxiety, which can inhibit performance in their studies.

Cynthia Curl – UPDATE

Cynthia Curl

Cynthia Curl recently was named one of Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s 20 pioneers in environmental public health under 40. The Collaborative on Health and the Environment is committed to protecting the health of families, children and communities from pollution and other environmental factors that contribute to chronic disease and disability.As one of 20 pioneers, Curl will be a guest presenter on CHE’s webinar series. The series will run Sept. to June of 2018.

Seven Arrows Powwow Honors Supporters

Six individuals were recognized ​at the 2017 Seven Arrows Powwow for their work supporting Native American students, academics, community, activism and culture.

The powwow showcases the customs of Native Americans in full regalia, and visitors can try authentic Native American food and browse booths set up by regional vendors selling handmade items such as instruments, beaded jewelry, art and hand drums. In addition, dancers of all ages compete for thousands of dollars in prizes.

The individuals recognized at this year’s event were:

  • Student Brooke Putra for her work in helping recognize Indigenous People’s Day at Boise State University.
  • Mike Cutler from Boise State Counseling Services for his work with supporting Native American students on campus. He has been the Intertribal Native Council advisor in past years and works with Tunnel of Oppression.
  • Art professor Larry McNeil, for his elevation of Native American culture through his art and photography.
  • Sallie Monday with the local chapter of Idle No More, a movement aimed at protecting the earth for all people.
  • Celia Espinoza, for founding Idaho Stands with Standing Rock. Her organization held donation drives and she traveled to North Dakota to make deliveries and help at the camps.
  • Ronald Sam for his work with the Red River Powwow Association, an organization that keeps the powwow traditions and culture alive in Idaho.

The honorees received medallions designed by Tlingit student Ashley Young. Young is from Alaska and is a student in the department of art.

Boise State Online Master of Social Work Program Ranked 8th in the Nation

Boise State University’s online Master of Social Work (MSW) program has been ranked 8th in the nation in terms of affordability, according to SR Education, a non-profit organization that independently reviews hundreds of higher education institutions based on affordability, accessibility and quality.

“It’s wonderful to receive recognition for the high-caliber, affordable education we offer our students,” said Randy Magen, director of the School of Social Work. “Tuition at some of our online competitors is two or three times what Boise State charges.  To us that is a social justice issue,;we don’t want our students to graduate with a mountain of debt.”

“The School of Social Work at Boise State is the only public institution that offers graduate social work education in Idaho,” added Joelle Powers, associate dean in the College of Health Sciences. Powers helped launch the online program. She noted that given the current and predicted future needs for increased social work practitioners across the state and nation, “being able to offer students MSW programming in flexible and affordable formats is critical to our communities.”

Earlier this year, SR Education also ranked Boise State’s MSW program 18th overall in the nation.

“There are a lot of talented bachelor’s educated people working in social services who are place-bound or have a family and are not able to come to the university to pursue their master’s degree,” Magen said. “The online program brings the master’s degree to them and it does it in a way that is also affordable.”

Boise state’s online MSW features the same curriculum that on-campus students receive – the only difference is how the courses are conducted. While nearly one-third of Boise State online MSW students reside in Idaho, the program currently has students enrolled in 36 different states.

“Every county in Idaho is a behavioral health shortage area,” Magen added. “That means there are not enough behavioral health professionals to meet the population’s needs.  The online MSW program is a way for us to supply professionals that already live in those rural areas.”

To be considered for SR Education Group’s rankings, schools must offer at least one fully online degree in a given subject for the degree level that was required, or higher. That information was then weighed with program data including available degrees, tuition rates and details about program coursework, which were collected from official school websites.

Boise State’s School of Social Work offers both full-program Master of Social Work (MSW) and advanced standing MSW programs. The online curriculum is the same curriculum as the in-person curriculum delivered in Boise, Twin Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston. Magen adds that almost all of the online courses have been developed and are taught by full-time Boise-based faculty.

You can find out more about Boise State’s social work programs here.

Academic Advisor Presents at the NACADA Region Eight Conference

Jamie Sheppard, academic advisor for College of Health Sciences, and math instructor Mandy McDaniel co-presented at the National Academic Advising Association’s Region 8 Conference in Missoula, Montana on April 11.  Their presentation was titled, “Students Reaching the Summit of Remedial and Prerequisite Math through Collaborative Advising Efforts: Instructor, Advisor and Administrator(s).”

Their presentation focused on an inclusive model of advising developed through data-driven research. This new model has increased passing rates and student retention in remedial math. Through collaborative efforts of mathematics instructors, campus advisors, and outside campus departments it meets the needs of all student populations: at-risk, honors, student-athletes, non-traditional and first-year students.

Their data shows that this collaborative effort helps students to be more successful in current and future classes, and has increased student retention and graduation rates.

Two College of Health Sciences Students Named Top Ten Scholars

Ten outstanding Boise State University graduating seniors, including two from the College of Health Sciences, were recognized for their exceptional academic success at the annual Top Ten Scholars reception at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, in the Stueckle Sky Center.

The scholars, joined by their parents and professors, gathered for a reception that recognizes the students’ academic excellence and the tremendous influence specific faculty members have had on their success. It is a unique opportunity each year to bring together many of Boise State’s best and brightest students and teachers.

Presented by the Alumni Association, the awards ceremony featured remarks from each student honoree as well as remarks from President Bob Kustra, Honors College Dean Andrew Finstuen and Lisa Gardner, executive director of the Boise State Alumni Association and Office of Alumni Relations.

Students are nominated by their academic deans and are subject to rigorous review by a selection committee. To qualify for consideration, a student must have a 3.8 or higher grade point average. Nominees are then reviewed based on academic breadth of coursework, research, creative works and publications, presentations at professional meetings or conferences, and extracurricular community and campus service.

“Student recipients should feel extremely proud knowing that they are deemed the top of their graduating class,” said Gardner. “They have had extraordinary experiences through their undergraduate studies with Boise State University and we hope that they continue to share their wisdom and energy with their colleagues and with their alma mater as they move through their life and career paths as Boise State alumni and continue to represent the university’s highest standards.”

Samantha WicksSamantha Wicks
Degree: Bachelor of science in health sciences, bachelor of arts in Spanish and a minor in psychology
Honored Faculty: Scott Conger, assistant professor, Department of Kinesiology

Coming to Boise State from Anchorage, Alaska, Wicks competed as a member of the Boise State swimming and diving team for four years and was a team captain for her final season. During three of those years, she represented Boise State at the NCAA championship meet. Wicks received All-Mountain West honors for each semester she participated, is a three-time Mountain West Scholar-Athlete and was named the 2016 Mountain West Swimmer of the Year. In addition, she is a three-time Scholastic All-American and was named to the 2016 Academic All-American Third Team. She finished her swimming career at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Wicks now works with the Boise State swimming team as a volunteer.

Wicks spent the fall 2016 semester studying in Costa Rica where she advanced her fluency in Spanish. The time spent living in Costa Rica has influenced her plans for the future. Wicks is currently in a program off-campus to become a certified Spanish medical interpreter so she can work with Spanish-speaking people.

Lauren HosekLauren L. Hosek
Degree: Bachelor of science in biology with an emphasis in human biology and bachelor of science in pre-medical studies
Honored Faculty: Don Warner, associate professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Originally from Eagle, Hosek is an active member of the Boise State Honors College, has served as a peer mentor for the past three years and currently sits on the Honors College Advisory Board.

Hosek is the current chapter director of Strive for College, an organization she joined as a freshman that mentors high school students through their college application process. She has helped expand the program from 19 college mentors the first semester to 250 college mentors the following year and has personally mentored four high school students herself. She also has served as the CEO of the American Red Cross Club where she organized blood drives throughout the year.

Hosek began her research in a biochemistry lab, testing the effectiveness of drug candidates on Giardia and Entamoeba enzymes via UV Vis spectroscopy. After completing her organic chemistry classes and receiving the 2015 Organic Chemistry Student of the Year award, she was hired as a summer research assistant where she synthesized anticancer analogs targeting metastatic breast cancer. Since then, Hosek has spent more than 1,300 hours in the lab and will present at seven research conferences, including two national conferences. She is co-authoring a manuscript anticipated to be submitted by June 2017. 

To read about the other eight 2017 Top Ten Scholars, visit Update.

Academic Advisor Publishes Book Review

Jamie Sheppard, academic advisor for the College of Health Sciences, has published a review of the book “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom” on NACADA’s book review website at

Faculty Documents Noise Intensity for Indoor Hockey Officials

Karin AdamsKarin Adams, assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences’ Department of Community and Environmental Health, published “A Faceoff with Hazardous Noise: Noise Exposure and Hearing Threshold Shifts of Indoor Hockey Officials” with William J. Brazile, associate professor at Colorado State University, in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

Noise exposure and hearing thresholds of indoor hockey officials of the Western States Hockey League were measured to assess the impact of hockey game noise on hearing sensitivity. Hockey officials have not been studied in this manner and Adams and Brazile’s research identifies this occupation as being at a higher risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets a noise exposure maximum level for workers. If an employee is exposed to an eight-hour time-weighted average of above the threshold limit, the employee must enroll in a hearing conservation program. OSHA-mandated hearing conservation programs include training on noise and hearing loss, annual hearing tests, hearing protection (such as earplugs or earmuffs) and noise monitoring.

Twenty-nine hockey officials who officiated the league in an arena in southeastern Wyoming in 2014 participated in the study. Adams and Brazile measured the noise levels to which each hockey official was exposed during a specific sampling time with personal noise dosimetry. Hearing thresholds were measured before and after hockey games to determine if and how much of a temporary threshold shift in hearing occurred. Adams and Brazile found significant threshold shifts between the pre- and post-game measurements in both ears for the participating hockey officials. This suggests that indoor hockey officials are exposed to hazardous levels of noise, experience temporary hearing loss after officiating games, and a hearing conservation program may be warranted. Further research has the potential to identify officials of other sporting events that are at an increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

Faculty Quoted in Story on Limitations to the New United States’ Safe Zone Policy

Resubmitted from: Boise State University News Update February 2, 2017

Image of Royce Hutson

Royce Hutson was quoted in a story from The Medialine titled “Limitations to the New United States’ Safe Zone Policy.” Hutson, who spent time working with Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, said poverty, few job opportunities, discrimination, lack of security and other factors in the camps can lead to feelings of hopelessness and that life is “outside of their control.” Read the full story here.

Department Head Lillian Smith Talks Community and Environmental Health

Resubmitted from: Boise State University News Update February 13,

Portrait of Lillian Smith

Last semester, a new major quietly debuted in the College of Health Sciences. Boise State students now have the option of earning a bachelor’s degree in public health. This broad discipline encompasses everything from community based programming, like after school programs, to the ways that people can live, work, play and pray (or meditate), to making daily healthy food choices.

Yet for all its versatility, this undergraduate degree track, housed in Boise State’s Department of Community and Environmental Health, is relatively new to higher education. As department head Lillian Smith explained, “we’re only two years into having accredited undergrad programs in public health across the United States, even though this type of program has been in the works, nationally, for about a decade.”

She added: “Now the undergrad degree in public health is the fastest growing new degree in the U.S.”

Smith, who earned her master’s and doctorate in public health, joins Boise State from the east coast, where she helped launch a new school of public health at West Virginia University. Her professional focus has been on research and teaching others about community engagement in public health – specifically, how to help communities work together and respond to their own issues.

“The beauty of public health is that it’s the unifying factor for so many players – you’ve got city and county governments, health officials, businesses, universities and a whole host of other people all working together to address collective issues,” Smith said. “It can be anything from, ‘How do we clean up the river?’ to ‘How do we change people’s eating habits?’ That’s the exciting thing about public health; it can be both social and scientific.”

Boise State students interested in public health choose either a general program of study or one of two emphasis areas: environmental and occupational health, a math and science based emphasis that focuses on issues like industrial hygiene and how ventilation affects hospital health; and health education and promotion, which Smith explained is more behavioral based and focuses on social innovations and how systems and the built environment impact habits.

“In the general, you’re exposed to a little of both emphasis areas and could study business or non-profit management,” Smith added. “The bottom line is, there’s a place for everyone at the table if they’re interested in community health.”

The programs also act as a pipeline for students interested in pursuing graduate degrees in the field to the region’s graduate programs: Boise State’s master in health science and Idaho State University’s master in public health.

“We’re looking forward to collaborating with ISU and CWI, which is getting an associate’s program in public health,” Smith explained. “We want to think upstream: ‘How do we keep people from developing unhealthy habits?’ This is called primary prevention, as opposed to when you see a doctor when you’re sick, which is secondary prevention. We’re the group that wants to get ahead of the problem.”