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Dr. Bonnie Sorensen named StetsonU’s CBR Community Partner of the Year
DeLand, Fla. – Stetson University students conduct community-based research for governmental and non-profit agencies in central Florida each year – a real-life learning experience for students that also benefits the community partners.
The research is done through Stetson’s Community-Based Research program, which is directed by Dr. William Ball, visiting associate professor of political science.
Students take a course focusing on the uses of social, behavioral and natural science theory, methodology and data for policy, program planning and evaluation applications in the community. They also spend the semester working with community partners to address real community problems using academic research skills and the substantial intellectual resources of Stetson and its faculty.
This year, Dr. Bonnie J. Sorensen and the Volusia County Health Department were honored as Stetson’s CBR Community Partner of the Year for consistently making research opportunities available to Stetson students. The two Stetson projects supervised by Dr. Sorensen and her staff this spring focused on factors associated with breastfeeding for babies born in Volusia County hospitals.
Dr. Sorensen has been director of the Volusia County Health Department since 2009, having also served as director from 1996-2002. In between, she served as statewide director and also helped launch the new California Department of Public Health.
"Dr. Sorensen and her staff actively support every stage of the research, and our students come away with a very valuable public health research experience," said Dr. John Schorr, senior professor of sociology. "She has taken time to attend every research meeting with the CBR team at Stetson and has been very supportive of the entire program, not just the health-related research. She is truly a person who places a high priority on community health broadly defined to include social justice issues and the personal wellbeing of all members of our community. We were very happy to recognize her for her work with CBR and for her great contributions to our community."
This spring semester, Stetson students – supervised and mentored by Ball, Schorr and Assistant Professor of Counselor Education Meghan Walter – conducted research for community partners including the DeLand City Commissioner Vonzelle Johnson and the U.N.I.T.Y. Coalition, the Seminole County Public Schools’ Families in Transition Program, the Volusia Flagler Coalition for the Homeless, the Spring Hill Resource Center/Breath of Life Foundation, the Volusia County Emergency Management Department and the health department.
They researched the effectiveness of outreach projects and explored topics such as the costs incurred by Volusia County hospitals in treating homeless patients, how weather emergency information is accessed by blind citizens, the effectiveness of the probation system, the role of parental involvement and peer mentoring in student success, the types of recreational activities children in DeLand want, how effective local hospitals are in persuading new mothers to breastfeed their babies, and how former inmates are transitioning back into the community in terms of jobs and education.
The students’ findings were presented to the community partners in May. Dr. Sorensen was among those in attendance, and she heard research presentations on the breastfeeding research done by students Courtney Kieffer and Kimberly Arnaldi. The students found that Florida Hospital DeLand was most effective in encouraging low-income mothers to nurse their newborns and that Halifax Health Medical Center was particularly effective in working with middle- and upper-income patients.
"Fabulous work," Dr. Sorensen told the students. "We will take this information to the hospitals."
The presentations also included a report from students Linh Tran and Julie Martin on client satisfaction with the Families in Transitions program for homeless families served by Seminole Public Schools. Stetson became acquainted with the program last December, when CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a special featuring homeless families being served by the Seminole Schools program. One youngster interviewed, Arielle Metzger, was wearing a Stetson T-shirt in the TV special, and she and her brother, Austin, have since been offered scholarships to attend Stetson after high school graduation. They’ve met many Stetson students and visited campus several times in recent months.
One of the students the Metzgers met is Tran, who was a Stetson student in the Bonner Scholar program which focuses on community service. Tran graduated from Stetson in May – shortly after making her CBR research presentation – and was the first student ever to earn Stetson’s new Certificate of Community Engagement.
For more information on recent Community-Based Research projects, visit the CBR website.
Founded in 1883, Stetson University in Central Florida is an independent university that provides a transforming education in the liberal arts tradition. Stetson stresses academic excellence and community-engaged learning, and consistently earns high national rankings. In 1982, Stetson was awarded a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. The College of Arts & Sciences, School of Business Administration and School of Music are located at the historic campus in DeLand. The of Law is in Gulfport/St. Petersburg. The university also has two satellite centers: the Tampa Law Center and the Stetson University Center at Celebration near Orlando. More information: University Marketing, 386-822-8920. Connected with Stetson on social media.
Page last updated: 06/4/12