As an undecided freshmen at Iowa State, Ashley Jones didn’t know exactly where she wanted her adventure to take her. She did know that she wanted to launch her own business.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own business,” said Jones. “My parents have a business together and that’s encouraging. My grandma had her own art studio, so she’s a role model too.”
The “creative aspects, the planning, of the event and being organized” elements of the event management major drew her to pursue the profession of planning important events and gatherings.
Now a senior, Jones has a double major in event management and marketing with a minor in entrepreneurial studies. Jones will graduate this spring, but instead of sending out resumes, Jones will continue to build the start-up business plans she initiated while here at Iowa State.
Swoon Event Studio will be an online platform. Anyone planning an event can use the online features to design their own personal tablescapes and rent those items all in one location.
Jones credits Linda Niehm, a professor in apparel, events, and hospitality management, and Niehm’s AESHM 474: Entrepreneurship in Human Sciences course for helping her take the first steps in starting Swoon Event Studio.
“That class was the first time I had ever made a business plan," she said. "That was also the first time I ever did a pitch.”
Niehm will be the first to tell you that AESHM 474 is a unique class that gives students like Jones more opportunities to build on their business ideas.
“Some of the others [classes] certainly give you pieces of very solid information, and maybe help you to initially see, ‘Well, what would it take for a minimally viable idea,’” said Niehm. “But here [AESHM 474] we’re saying, ‘Let’s take that and really map it out and research it deeply’ — and it’s focused on human sciences related businesses.”
Niehm said the course complimented Jones’s desire to start her own business.
“Her work ethic is incredible," Niehm said. "She’s very mature, she’s open to giving advice to other students, and she has passion. She’s kind of like the perfect package.”
AESHM 474 was one of many resources Jones utilized while at Iowa State. She worked with CyStarters, a competitive 10-week summer accelerator where Iowa State students can work with expert mentors to develop their own business ideas. She also won the 2018 ISU Innovation Pitch Competition.
“She doesn’t miss an opportunity to share and pitch about her idea,” said Niehm.
Running a business while still in college isn’t a perfect formula. Time is a constant challenge that Jones runs into while juggling her responsibilities.
“Prioritizing my time [between] classes, working on Swoon — I also co-founded a food publication called Cardinal Eats at Iowa State,” said Jones. “That pretty much takes up my time.”
Despite the time crunch, Jones wouldn’t want her senior year any other way.
“I’ll be way more ahead than if I’m starting from scratch when I graduate,” Jones said.
“I just have a clearer path.”
Jones is putting the finishing touches on the website, but anyone can join the mailing list for updates and event planning tips at the following link: https://www.swooneventstudio.com/.
To thrive in a fast-changing world, students must understand the many facets of diversity, which stem from a wide range of life circumstances and experiences. Catch a glimpse of just a few of the thousands of students who are embracing various aspects of diversity to develop their own unique and promising career paths.
Preparing students for a global workforce
“Research shows that most recent college graduates who have studied abroad believe their international experience contributed to a job offer,” said Erin French, director of the college’s international programs. “Students also report increases in skill sets, from intercultural competence and curiosity to self-awareness and flexibility.”
Studying abroad in Ireland, “opened my eyes to how other people live, and showed me that what is normal to me, isn’t necessarily someone else’s normal,” said Natalie Nelson, a senior in kinesiology and health. “I was forced to be independent, which helped me grow as a person.”
In the five years since 2012-13, the number of human sciences students participating in study abroad has more than doubled, from 60 to 146, thanks in part to generous alumni.
“Scholarships help make these opportunities more affordable — and therefore more accessible — to students,” French said. “They really make a difference.”
Accommodating diverse dietary needs
Alumna Kallen Anderson learned how to meet the dietary needs of people with diverse food allergies and other medical conditions when double-majoring in family and consumer sciences education and studies and dietetics. Knowing how to modify food ingredients to protect and improve the health of each unique individual opened doors for her after graduation in 2014. Now, as a registered dietitian in the Special Diet Kitchen at ISU Dining, she serves more than 40 students with distinctly different nutritional needs.
Supporting veterans and military families
Denise Williams-Klotz, Iowa State’s assistant director of multicultural student affairs who received her doctorate from the School of Education in 2015, is an advocate for student success. She’s focused her research on the experiences and academic success of student veterans, military personnel, and their family members who face unique challenges transitioning to a university setting. Many of the 957 Iowa State students receiving military education benefits find 360-degree support at the Veterans Center in the Memorial Union.
Helping older adults stay well
Age diversity is a key consideration when promoting health. From birth to life’s end, our wellness needs constantly change. Ryan True, a senior in kinesiology and health, is preparing to start a business called “Full Circle Wellness,” to provide health services for older adults focusing on eight dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, financial and environmental. True spent his summer in CYstarters, Iowa State’s 10-week accelerator to help him grow his startup.
Opening opportunities for underrepresented groups
Iowa State’s 2018 NSCORE-ISCORE Brenda Jones Change Agent Award went to Kennesha Woods for improving understanding of race and ethnicity and creating positive change in the community as a parole officer, a youth residential officer, and a special education teacher. The first-generation college student graduated from Iowa State in 2011 in child, adult, and family services. She is now working toward a doctorate in the School of Education and preparing to further influence systems and policies in ways that open up opportunities for underrepresented groups.
After graduating from Hoover High School in Des Moines, one of the most ethnically diverse schools in Iowa, Kendra McGhee came to Iowa State University and experienced culture shock.
About 13 percent of Iowa State’s student body of more than 36,000 are students of color. McGhee said being surrounded by white people made her feel isolated.
“It’s really wearing not seeing people that look like you, or people that you can relate to,” she said. “In my classes, people would talk over me or they wouldn’t listen to my ideas."
Today, McGhee has not only overcome her fear — she’s become a leader among her peers. The senior in kinesiology and health is president of The Kin Collective, a new group that is building a stronger sense of community among students of color.
McGhee thanks her friends for helping her become comfortable in her own skin. She thanks programs like Science Bound, a scholarship program for multicultural students, for making sure she has appropriate resources. And she thanks kinesiology professor Warren Franke for creating a welcoming environment at Iowa State.
“He’s just very cognizant of his social identity and how that can affect other people with different social identities,” McGhee said. “Having interactions with people like that really helped me grow as a person.”
Faculty and students in kinesiology — dedicated to promoting physical activity, health, and well-being — say they recognize diversity is lacking in their field. The Kin Collective is one way they are working to address the issue. The group is the brainchild of Franke and graduate student Markus Flynn, a former president of the ISU Black Student Alliance and recipient of Iowa State’s 2016-2017 Brenda Jones Change Agent award.
“We felt that this organization could fill a void that the department was missing,” said Flynn, who along with Franke advises the group.
McGhee said The Kin Collective reduces isolation by fostering friendships, offering students the chance to provide and receive support, and creating safe spaces to share life’s ups and downs.
McGhee said recognizing that we each have privileges, advantages, and disadvantages as part of our social identity — and can each serve as advocates or allies — can help all students.
“It’s very important that everyone feels accepted and appreciated and valued,” she said. “We’re still treating people unfairly based on one part of who they are. There’s no reason for there to be marginalized groups — that’s a social construct that we created just to divide ourselves. Nothing is really accomplished if we’re divided.”
Iowa State University recognizes that preparing students as next-generation scholars in an increasingly diverse and global society means encouraging them to explore opportunities off campus and around the world.
In Ames, the support Ashley Taylor received as a doctoral student in human development and family studies allowed her to survey more than 700 Iowa State students who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or part of another sexual minority for her dissertation.
But Iowa State also provide Taylor the opportunity to attend the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam, and intern with the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C. Those experiences gave her the chance to impact policies relating to diversity and inclusion, and improve the lives of those who identify as LGBTQ+.
"At Iowa State, I was exposed to other ways of thinking which was very helpful," Taylor said. "I was always encouraged to seek opportunities outside of the university if I needed to. Without those opportunities, especially the internship at the Human Rights Campaign, I would not be where I am today."
When Taylor came out as a lesbian to her parents at 19, their reaction was unexpectedly negative. She started to take notice of the impact of parental reactions when her peers came out, and wondered about the influence of family on LGBTQ+ individuals. Taylor also began looking at micro-aggressions — unintentional or intentional slights against a person because of others' biases.
"Over time, these experiences accumulate and they negatively impact people in ways they may not understand at the time," she said.
Today, Taylor is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre at the University of British Columbia. Her research continues to focus on sexual minority young adults including: transgender youth health, safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, and how gay/straight alliances impact student well-being.
She thanks Iowa State and her major professor, Tricia Neppl, for the encouragement that led to worldwide opportunities in her field that she never imagined.
"To be competitive for an international job, it helps to be able to show you can work with individuals from a diverse background," she said.
Sarah Brangoccio thought that by going into special education, she’d be the teacher helping students.
But then she got to know Amber Kirk, Adele Krier, Chloe Schmidt, and Marianne Russell, and found herself learning from them just as much as she was teaching.
“These adults with disabilities are coming in and learning alongside of me,” she said. “So now they’re my friends, they’re my peers, they’re my colleagues.”
Brangoccio, a senior in elementary education, first encountered the interns through her work in the Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching. They bonded and became quick friends.
“Definitely all of us interns have become really good friends. We tease each other a lot,” said Schmidt.
Brangoccio has a passion for people with disabilities. She believes it’s her job to give them the opportunity, or that little extra push, to bring out their abilities. She advises others to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
"When you're put in uncomfortable situations, you can learn from it. You learn your own biases, your own thoughts, how you do things,” she said. “Being around people with more diverse backgrounds makes you more conscious of your own background, your own ability — things I take for granted every day, but things I can still work to improve.”
Kirk, Krier, Schmidt, and Russell interned at Iowa State this past year through Project SEARCH, which aims to secure competitive employment for people ages 18 to 30 with disabilities. Iowa State’s program, led by School of Education senior lecturer Linda Lind, is offered campus wide this fall. The transition-to-work program was first implemented at Iowa State in fall 2016 by the College of Human Sciences in partnership with The Arc of Story County.
“While Project SEARCH is enriching the lives of people with disabilities, we believe these individuals enrich our campus just as much,” said ISU President Wendy Wintersteen. “We want Iowa State University to be a place where anyone — including individuals with disabilities — can reach their full potential.”
The interns graduated from Project SEARCH in April, and a new group began interning this fall. The thought of saying goodbye to Kirk, Krier, Schmidt, and Russell brought tears to Brangoccio’s eyes. “These are a wonderful group of people. I cannot imagine not having my last two years with them,” she said.
“They make the workplace better for sure, and to think that people wouldn’t want them in their workplace is just absolutely absurd to me. I just wish everybody would know that they’re as great as I think they are.”
Teaching, research, and outreach extended by the College of Human Sciences begins with understanding and appreciating people. Recognizing that others’ life experiences can differ fundamentally from our own improves how we engage with them. Through wiser engagement, we deepen our relationships among friends, families, workplaces, and communities in mutually beneficial ways.
Human scientists study every aspect of people’s lives — including how multicultural factors affect their health and wellness, growth and development, education, and community-building endeavors. Groundbreaking research and engagement crosses racial barriers, identifies ethnic factors affecting how people thrive, and introduces better ways to meet individuals’ varying needs.
The principles of diversity, inclusion, and community are deeply embedded in the missions and strategic plans of Iowa State University and the College of Human Sciences.
Inclusion fuels achievement
When it comes to improving the bottom line for a business, outcomes for a nonprofit’s clients, learning opportunities for a student, or career success for a college graduate, the evidence is clear. Embracing diversity and inclusion matters.
A recent study by McKinsey & Company, an American-based consulting firm, examined the leadership demographics of 366 large public organizations from a wide range of industries. The researchers found that organizations in the top quartile of racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median.
Gender-diverse and engaged business units also outperform their less diverse, less engaged peers, according to a recent study by Gallup.
Researchers suggest that diverse teams perform better because they bring more perspectives, knowledge, and original thoughts to the conversation — all of which lead to better problem-solving and more insightful decisions.
“Diversity helps ensure the ideas and food we bring to the table will be the best in the world,” said alumna Kathy Wiemer (’76 dietetics).
Wiemer recently retired as senior fellow and director of the Bell Institute of Health, Nutrition and Food Safety at General Mills. Most recently she oversaw the company’s nutrition policy and regulation efforts.
“General Mills has products in over 100 countries,” Wiemer said. “The company views diversity and inclusion as essential to running a successful business.”
Companies like General Mills generate benefits by ensuring people genuinely engage with each other. The company’s leaders have built a workplace in which dissimilar people form trusting relationships and perform well together as colleagues.
Diversity optimizes learning
Establishing environments where each individual feels safe speaking their mind and open to hearing the perspectives of others is key to optimizing learning and performance for everyone, including students, said Robert Reason, a professor in the ISU School of Education who studies campus climate and student development.
“If there is a safe way to say, ‘I disagree with you on that’ or ‘Can you tell me more about your perspective?’ — that’s a really powerful learning experience,” Reason said.
“When I listen to you and your perspective and you listen to me and my perspective and we engage with those ideas, it creates cognitive dissonance,” Reason said. “I am forced to examine my earlier unexamined assumptions — either solidifying my assumptions or changing them — which means I’m learning. That’s the power of diversity.
“Getting to the point where I am comfortable with who I am interacting with you and with who you are — and disagreeing and learning from each other, respecting our multiple perspectives — that is where organizational effectiveness improves and our own personal productivity is improved, according to the research,” Reason said.
With so much potential for raising organizational performance at stake, it’s no wonder employers are seeking out job candidates who embrace diversity and inclusion.
Career-readiness hinges on trust-building
The ability to build “collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints” is one of the seven key competencies associated with career readiness among college graduates. The competencies were recently identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, whose members represent research universities and organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to government agencies.
Successful professionals like Emily Rusha-Hillique, the design director at Target Corporation who minored in apparel, merchandising, and design at Iowa State, advise students to embrace diversity.
“Whatever line of work you go into, whatever you are studying at school, you will be servicing a population that is extremely diverse,” Rusha-Hillque said.
“It’s such an important aspect for today’s students to have experience, training, and awareness of how important diversity and inclusion is,” Wiemer said. “It is critical they are able to work with a ‘diversity and inclusivity mindset.”
Alejandro Martinez is a first-generation student that never intended on going to college.
But after going through Upward Bound, a college preparatory program for first-generation and/or income-eligible high school students, and earning the Multicultural Vision Program award, Martinez will graduate from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health.
“I’m a first-generation student, so I hope to inspire others in my community and make an impact, leave a legacy behind,” Martinez said.
Read the full story on the ISU News Service website.
The Iowa State University College of Human Sciences will recognize the accomplishments of the graduating class of fall 2018 in a series of events on Dec. 14 and 15.
Dean and Dean's Chair Laura Jolly and department chairs will individually recognize students receiving bachelor’s degrees at the college’s undergraduate convocation at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium. A reception honoring graduating students will immediately follow the college convocation. The reception will begin at approximately 3 p.m. on the ground and first-floor of C.Y. Stephens Auditorium.
The university wide commencement ceremony has been split into two separate events. The graduate commencement ceremony is at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 in Hilton Coliseum. The undergraduate commencement ceremony is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 15 in Hilton Coliseum.
Six graduating students — Melanie Nesbitt in elementary education; Emily Bormann in family and consumer sciences education and studies; Megan Greenlee in event management; Kaeleen Jenkins in kinesiology and health; LuJing “Lulu” Johnson in nutritional sicence; and Nicole Marg in early childhood education — will receive special honors for their scholarship and leadership at the College of Human Sciences’ fall 2018 convocation.
Melanie Nesbitt of Pocahontas is the university marshal. She is graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, along with endorsements in English/Language Arts, math, and reading. At Iowa State, Nesbitt enjoyed helping new students transition to college as a peer mentor while gaining practical classroom experience in various math classes as a teaching assistant. She also remained active in Pocahontas as a coach for the mock trial program and as a counselor and program lead at Twin Lakes Bible Camp. Nesbitt has accepted a teaching position as an 8th grade math teacher at Humbolt Middle School and will begin teaching in January.
Emily Bormann of West Bend is representing the College of Human Sciences as the university marshal. She is graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences education and studies, with the professional studies option. In the summer of 2017, Bormann facilitated youth programming in Woodbury, Plymouth, and Monona counties as a Rising Star intern with ISU Extension and Outreach. She also makes the most of her time at Iowa State as the president of the Family and Consumer Sciences Education and Studies Club and a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron national honor society. Bormann has accepted an Extension 4-H Assistant position with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension starting in January 2019.
Megan Greenlee of Rockford, Illinois, is one of three students receiving the Dean’s Recognition Award. She is graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in event management. Greenlee is a hard worker who secured internships at the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Prairie Street Brewing Company during her college career. As the executive event coordinator of WinterFest this semester, Greenlee applied her expertise to organize and execute this large-scale event. She also gave much of her free time to help others, volunteering with Ames public library programs and the ISU People to People Career Fair.
Kaeleen Jenkins of Stratford is also receiving the Dean’s Recognition Award. She is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and health with the physical education teacher option and a coaching endorsement. Jenkins is a seasoned educator, with experience as a student physical education teacher at Prairie Valley Elementary School in Farnhamville and a physical education paraeducator at Ingleside Primary School in Ingleside, Texas. She received the Ruth and Vincent Mahoney Scholarship for superior academic achievement and has volunteered at Care Initiatives as a Hospice Caregiver. Jenkins plans to substitute teach until she obtains a full-time teaching job near Dayton, Iowa.
LuJing “Lulu” Johnson of Hopkins, Minnesota, is the final student receiving the Dean’s Recognition Award. She completed the Honors Program and is graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science with the pre-health professional and research option. Johnson interned at the Hennepin County Medical Center where she observed practicing physicians and learned how certain medical situations should be handled. As a volunteer at Kate Mitchell and Sawyer elementary schools in Ames, Johnson helped teach students how to read, write, and solve math problems. After graduation, Johnson plans to take a gap year to travel, volunteer, and apply for medical school.
Nicole Marg of Hudson, Wisconsin, is the fall 2018 Graduating Student of the Year. She is graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, along with an endorsement in reading. Marg has honed her teaching skills as a practicum student working with children in preschool, second grade, and sixth grade classrooms. This fall, she used those skills to student teach toddlers and kindergarteners in Des Moines and Boone. Marg cared for and educated infants and preschoolers at the Child Development Laboratory School in Ames while also serving as a student ambassador for the College of Human Sciences. Marg will continue her education by studying language in East Asia.
Lifting weights for less than an hour a week may reduce your risk for a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent, according to a new study led by DC (Duck-chul) Lee, an Iowa State University associate professor in kinesiology.
"People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective," Lee said.
Spending more than an hour in the weight room did not yield any additional benefit, the researchers found.
Read full story on the ISU News Service website.
On November 15-17, Iowa State University School of Education graduate students and faculty members will present at the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s (ASHE) annual conference in Tampa, Florida. Presentations will cover topics from developing community colleges in India to supporting disabled students living on campus.
Lorenzo Baber, associate professor and head of the School of Education’s higher education division, commented on the faculty’s widespread topics relating to post-secondary education policy and students of different demographics.
“We have national experts in student development, policy development, community colleges, theoretical frameworks around equity and social justice — obviously as you can see with the presentations at ASHE, they run the gambit for those areas.”
Equity and social justice provide the central theme that connects all of the presentations.
“The common thread is around equity, access, and improving practice and policies around education,” Baber said.
At the conference there will be 22 presentations delivered by Iowa State University scholars. Baber is excited about more than just the large number.
“What I’m proud of most is not just the number of presentations, but the quality and the quality across different topics. The quality of our presentations are strong.”
“These are all peer reviewed conference presentations, so we’ve gone through the system and our peers have deemed our scholarship as worthy of being presented at this conference. It amplifies the program, it amplifies the faculty, but also amplifies the students.”
Representing the program will be a tall task, as the School of Education has a strong tradition of excellence when it comes to higher education.
“Iowa State has a long standing reputation in higher education… we’re just an extension of that,” Baber said.
Baber has complete confidence in his coworkers’ ability to continue that tradition of excellence.
“It’s a great responsibility to carry that tradition, but I think we’re rising and living up to that tradition.”
Here are the Iowa State-led presentations that will be given at the conference:
Understanding and Exploring International Student Development
CEP Roundtable Session
CIHE Poster and Roundtable Session
CIHE Poster and Roundtable Session
STEM Students: Influences of Pedagogy, Early Programming, and Transfer Practices
A Woke Academy Teach-in: Toward More Critically Conscious Teaching and Curricula in Higher Education Programs
Catching the Spirit: A Discussion on the Role of Spirituality and Diversity in the Experiences of STEM Students
Fostering Postsecondary Pathways in PK-12 for Latina/o/x Students: Toward Intersectionality and Contextualizing College Access and Choice
Navigating Sexual and Gender Identity Development on Campus
General Conference Roundtable Session
Power and Privilege: Transforming Faculty Practice
Conducting High-Quality Longitudinal Studies on College Student Experiences and Development
Research and Theory on Women of Color in STEM: Envisioning a Woke Agenda for STEM Equity
Frameworks for Realizing a Woke Academy
Making Meaning of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election: Qualitative Research on Campuses in the Era of 45
College Students' Experiences of Intercultural and Civic Engagement
(Re)Thinking The Notions Surrounding Student Success While (Re)Centering Queer, (Dis)Abled, & Students Of Color
Participatory Action Research and Community-Based Research as “Woke” Methodologies in Higher Education Scholarship
Socialization Experiences Among Graduate and Doctoral Students
Exploring The Diverse Experiences of Black Collegians
Reimagining Diversity Policy and Practice
Identity, Expectations, and Lived Experiences in Graduate and Doctoral Education