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Read stories of inspiration, overcoming challenges, and making a difference in public service from Kaplan University students, faculty, and alumni.
Read stories from Kaplan University faculty about making a difference in public service.
By Dr. Juliet Bradley, Faculty, Human Services Department
Human services is a rewarding career field that many individuals find very satisfying. There are, however, some myths and misconceptions related to this helping profession.
By Dr. Kristin Winokur Early, PhD, Faculty, Graduate Criminal Justice Program
Most of us have encountered it, the standard question asked upon meeting someone new: “So, what do you do?”
By Al Fernandez, Faculty, Criminal Justice Programs
I recently was asked to write an article about “what I do” and thought this would be a great platform to pass on my feelings and thoughts about having one of the greatest jobs in the world.
By Dr. Laura Hilkemann, School of Education
I currently teach online higher education courses in Kaplan University’s graduate psychology department, and I love my job!
By Michelle Fischer, Adjunct Faculty, Human Services Department
My dream in life was not to be Executive Director of an adoption agency, or so I thought. My dream was to become a psychologist and do counseling. But life had other plans!
By Dr. Shaneika A. Dilka, Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Psychology Department
What is industrial and organizational psychology, or I/O psychology? During my career, I have provided various answers to this question.
“When I was a senior in high school, I remember my parents accompanying me to the local police department. I recall being told, in not so many words, that it was very difficult for woman to get hired. Luckily, that didn’t stop me!”
Dena Aucoin M.Ed., Assistant Academic Chair in the Educational Studies program, is
devoted to her work and her students, and also is passionate about her volunteer
Professor Clairday shares the moment she first thought about becoming a teacher and how the connections she makes with her students are some of the most gratifying parts of her work.
Professor Douglas-Faraci’s teaching career spans nearly 30 years, and she has worked with students of various economic and cultural backgrounds from grades K-12 to higher education.
He is a mentor in every sense of the word, whether he is in his Kaplan University virtual “classroom” or on the UCF campus. He makes it a priority to always lead by example and provide guidance to those around him.
As a daughter of a fireman and a nurse, Professor Mainwaring says that working in law enforcement was just a natural fit. At the same time, Professor Mainwaring said she always loved the idea of being a teacher.
Learn about homeland security professor Richard Niemann and his work at Kaplan University helping students prepare for a career in homeland security and law enforcement.
Professor Karla Drenner is a modern-day renaissance woman. Read her faculty spotlight and learn about her work in public service, including serving as a Georgia State Representative for 14 years.
Professor Adams currently teaches ED 521: Reading in the Content Area, and has been teaching at Kaplan University for 6 years. Learn more about what inspires her to teach in this month's faculty spotlight.
Kaplan University Psychology Professor Rex Shahriari, EdD gives of his time to help disabled people in Africa the gift of mobility through an organization known as Personal Energy Transportation.
Toi Dennis started her own not-for-profit women’s shelter, Serenity House (www.serenityhouseshelter.com). Serenity House will be a transitional shelter that offers supportive services to women and their children.
Julie Riley, chair of the human services program, works with Family Promise, an organization that helps keep families together by temporarily housing families in churches and varied community housing so they can all stay together. Learn more about her work in the human services field and helping families.
A teacher for nearly
40 years, Kaplan University’s Professor Dale Kimball already knew in high
school exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up.
Meet Kaplan University Adjunct Faculty Member Sherry Grover, PHD, CHES and her work as a health educator and professor.
Professor Chandler was a successful artist, and earned her bachelor's degree in fine arts, majoring in weaving and print-making. She loved her trade, but when she divorced and had two small children to support, she knew she needed to develop a career to better support her family.
Professor David Thomason, PhD is a curious guy. He wants his students to enjoy his Program Evaluation and Budget Process classes in the Master of Public Administration program.
“Don’t laugh—it’s true!” Professor Thomason said.
Dr. Marie Wallace has been a professor at Kaplan University for 8 years. She currently teaches Child and Adolescent Development in our School of Education, and contributed two articles for this month’s celebration of African American History Month.
Education is by far one of
the most important public service areas. Each day, millions of children are
educated and cared for by dedicated teachers, support personnel, and
administrators. A solid education sets children up for successful and
As far back as I can recall I knew I wanted to make a difference, so choosing to work in the human service field was both a logical and natural fit.
Faculty member Michelle Fischer has been teaching in Department of Human Services with Kaplan University since 2004. Read about her journey into the adoption field and her experience owning an adoption agency.
As a Cook County assistant state’s attorney for the past
10 years, I have had the fortune to have a wide array of experiences and
opportunities throughout my career.
Professor Beth Donnellan contributed this month’s article title the “2-1-1 Initiative,” a human services hotline that provides crisis intervention and community referrals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She discusses how important this initiative is and how it can save many lives.
Outside of the virtual classroom, Dr. Howard Chusid is a founding partner of the Family Law Cooperative (www.familylawcooperative.com), a group of caring professionals who offer a cooperative and collaborative approach to divorce, financial difficulties, and other family disputes.
Read about Kaplan University Professor Karen Watson and her career in psychology helping others deal with anger issues.
Learn about College of Public Service faculty member Nabilah Pape and her experience working in the field of digital education and advice for students interested in the field of digital education.
Professor Lacey Martz never thought that case management would be such an integral part of her job as a public defender. In the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Martz teaches courses related to juvenile justice and research methods in criminal justice. Martz is also a criminal defense attorney for the County of San Diego, a job she’s held for more than a decade, where she is responsible for defending individuals charged with crimes.
Dr. Jodie Kenney has been serving the public as a counselor and advisor to students for nearly 20 years. Dr. Kenney’s main role in her long career as an academic advisor has been to help students achieve ultimate success by encouraging them to discover their own passion and intellectual development, and navigating them on the path to reaching meaningful academic goals and career aspirations.
Spotlight on careers and resources within the non-profit sector.
Learn more about NewSchools Venture Fund and its work to improve and transform education through innovation, education investments, teacher training, and developing effective teaching and learning tools.
The Education Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gaps in opportunity and achievement for students from low-income families or who are black, Hispanic, or American Indian. The organization focuses on helping students at all levels of education from pre-kindergarten through college.
Learn more about the World Health Organization (WHO) and its role in public health and health care around the world.
The PTSD Foundation of America
is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping combat veterans and their
families cope with post traumatic stress.
In 2006 Steve and Myrlia Purcell launched Look to the Stars as a way to inspire people to help charities by seeing the charity work that celebrities are doing.
Learn about the National Women’s History Museum and their work to raise awareness about the contributions women have made throughout history.
One organization that is helping to drive change in our
classrooms, student outcomes and success, and teacher development is the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dress for Success is a non-profit organization that provides
interview suits, confidence boosts, and career development to low-income women
in over 75 cities worldwide.
More than one million students in the nation’s public school system are homeless. For many of these young people, attending school is the most stable aspect of their lives.
Learn more about the non-profit organization Family Promise and its role in helping families who are at risk of becoming homeless stay together and get back on track.
VolunteerMatch is an online
resource that lists over 90,000 nonprofit organizations in need of assistance.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (better known as The King Center) was established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, widow of America’s most famous civil rights leader.
Dedicated on September 11, 2001—ten years to the day after the infamous attacks—New York’s astounding 9/11 Memorial was near completion on the site of the original World Trade Center.
Created soon after the 2001 attacks, 9/11 Day gives everyday people a positive way to remember and pay tribute to the victims…and to honor all those who rose up in response to the attacks.
Public safety program faculty member Josh Shanley shares his professional and
personal experiences working with his canine partner Scully. Read how this
special service dog helped make a difference in his life and those of others,
including two young girls he helped rescue who were lost.
Learn more about K9s for Warriors and how the organization is training and placing service dogs to help returning heroes from the military cope with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Join the Center for Public Service in celebrating International Assistance Dog Week in August and learn how assistance and service dogs can make a difference in people’s lives and communities.
Read the Center for Public Service spotlight on the American Red Cross and the resources and opportunities they offer volunteering and health and safety training.
Learn more about the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Day and help support the fight against drug abuse.
Learn more about Points of Light and getting involved with National Volunteer Week in this month’s Center for Public Service nonprofit spotlight.
Kaplan University establishes an official Autism Speaks U chapter. Learn about Autism Speaks and their efforts to help people who struggle with autism.
On March 1, 2013, the National Education Association (NEA) will celebrate Read Across America Day. The NEA represents over 3 million K-12 teachers, higher education faculty, education support staff, school administrators, retired educators, and more.
The Women in Public Service Project (WPSP) is a global initiative dedicated
to advancing women to positions of influence in governments and civic
In honor of African American History Month, the College of Public Service and the Center for Public Service would like to recognize the work of the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation (AAHPF).
In today’s digital world filled with smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers, one would think that digital learning and education is an option available to all K-12 students.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909, making it “our nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. From the ballot box to the classroom, the thousands of dedicated workers, organizers, leaders and members who make up the NAACP continue to fight for social justice for all Americans.”*
The perseverance of the civil rights movement and the leadership and conviction of activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks raised the voices of millions of who were living in a world filled with racial inequality. Solidifying the work of the movement and these activists has been led by a coalition of 200 national organizations known as the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program collects new, unwrapped toys during the 3 months before Christmas, distributing them to less fortunate children in communities throughout our nation. This high-profile charity began 65 years ago when Major Bill Hendricks and a group of U.S. Marine Reservists collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needy children in Los Angeles.
During the holidays, charities
can be found helping people in need enjoy a warm holiday dinner or bringing joy
to the life of a child or family through donated gifts. Charities and other
nonprofit organizations are able to help others and the community in part due
to extensive fundraising efforts—not just for the holidays but also for many
causes, from health awareness to education.
The American Institute of Stress (AIS) was established in 1978 at the behest of Dr. Selye to serve as a clearinghouse for information on all stress-related subjects. Its goal is to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in stress management in education, research, clinical care, and the workplace.
Over 250,000 children a year enter the U.S. foster care system. While more than half of foster care children are returned to their parents, the rest are placed with foster families or in group facilities. Spreading awareness about the thousands of children in need of a family or family environment is one of the key missions of AdoptUSKids.
The first Boys Club of America was formed in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut, by three social-conscious women: Mary Goodwin, Alice Goodwin, and Elizabeth Hammersley. For more than 150 years since, helping youth develop personal character has been an integral aspect of every Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) program or activity.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) reported that 90 percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death. AFSP is a nonprofit organization that recognizes this as a serious public health issue and works to reduce the loss of life from suicide.
For more than 10 years, this unique non-profit organization has worked to inspire and empower LGBT youth by connecting them with happy, successful LGBT adult professionals in their community. Live Out Loud has brought hundreds of LGBT role models to high schools and universities throughout the New York metropolitan area to take part in panel discussions and workshops and to speak directly with students.
In honor of this month’s National Case Management Week, the Center for Public Service is highlighting the field of case management’s role in the public service industry and resources, such as the National Association of Case Management (NACM), that advance the field.
Points of Light has been leading the field of volunteer organizations for over twenty years. Their mission is to “inspire, equip, and mobilize people to take action that changes the world.” With over 4.3 million volunteers participating in more than 260,000 service projects in 20 countries each year, Points of Light is certainly fulfilling their mission. They are partnered with a host of corporate sponsors including Google, American Express, Target, and UPS.
The Partnership for Public Service (PPS) is nonprofit organization that works to revitalize the federal government by training a new generation to serve and transform the way our government works. They believe that “building, energizing, and maintaining a high-quality workforce is the key to the success of any organization—and the federal government is no different.” PPS uses a number of programs to achieve their three strategic goals: building communities of support, securing the right talent, and fueling innovation.
Spotlight on careers and resources within the government sector.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is overseen by the United States Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences and is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and reporting on the complete statistics on the state of American education and education activities around the world.
What does it take to be a teacher? The documentary TEACH explores this question.
Learn about green jobs and a guide commissioned by the Women’s Bureau to raise awareness about green job opportunities for women.
The Administration on Aging (AoA) is a government program
overseen by the Administration for Community Living.
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is a government organization dedicated to providing and promoting management best practices and efficient government operations.
season, as the Center for Public Service focuses on the topic of giving to
yourself or others through the gift of education, we are spotlighting the work
of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor offers an informative resource for anyone looking for information about labor market activity, issues related to the economy, and career or job information.
The United States Interagency
Council on Homelessness (USICH) is a government organization dedicated to
reducing and ending homelessness through establishing a partnership between all
levels of government and the private sector.
Created as division of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) exists to promote the safety, stability, and well-being of those who have experienced or witnessed violence, neglect, or trauma.
United We Serve was launched by
President Obama to help promote volunteerism and public service during lean economic
The “30 Days, 30 Ways Preparedness Challenge” is lighthearted game with a very serious message: sharing practical readiness tips that help citizens and communities prepare for emergencies and disasters.
Learn about Reading Rockets and how they are promoting literacy by offering resources to parents, teachers, principals, librarians, and other professionals who work with children.
Read the Center for Public Service’s government
spotlight on Explosive Detector Dog (EDD) teams and how they are helping keep
communities safe from terrorism and deterring potential criminals.
Learn more about the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and how it is finding new ways to improve health care through research and the use of health information management.
Read the Center for Public Service’s Government Spotlight on the Centers for Disease Control and all the health and disease prevention related resources it offers.
Read the Center for Public Service’s spotlight on the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and how they are raising awareness about this serious condition.
Read the Center for Public Service’s spotlight on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and how they are raising awareness about this serious epidemic.
Celebrate public service in May by learning more about public service or viewing the live Public Service Recognition Week Public Service Town Hall online.
Learn more about Learn and Serve America and how it is serving
communities by offering young people opportunities in service learning and to
become involved in community service.
Learn about the Centers for Disease Control’s online resources on autism spectrum disorders, including screening and diagnosis practices, statistics, research, treatments, and more.
Women’s History Month began as a national celebration back in 1981 by an act of congress that requested then President Reagan to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.”
Learn more about the Center for the Book and their mission in promoting books, reading, literacy and libraries across the world.
The Digital Learning Network™ (DLN) was created about 10 years ago with the participation of three National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) locations. That number quickly expanded to include all 10 NASA field centers.
Every February, The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum come together to honor and pay tribute to African Americans throughout history who struggled to gain citizenship in American society.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” Each year on Martin Luther King Day, thousands of Americans answer that very question by participating in service projects that benefit their neighbors and communities.
The College of Public Service would like to recognize the Administration for Children & Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The ACF strives to provide leadership, partnership, and resources to support the resiliency, safety, health, and economic security of families, youth, children, individuals, and communities around the nation.
It’s hard to believe that the 2012 holiday season is upon us. Setting up a tree and decorating it to the hilt is an American tradition that delights both young and old. However, trees that are improperly outfitted or cared for can be a tragic accident waiting to happen.
During the holiday season, people all over the United States look for ways to give back to their community or donate to a favorite charity. Several charities partner with workplaces to offer employees an opportunity to make a pledge. One campaign that has been highly effective in helping charities raise workplace donations is the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).
November 12 through November 16, 2012, is International Education Week. The U.S. Department of Education and Department of State will come together to promote the benefits of international education and exchange during this worldwide observation.
Bullying isn’t just one of the many trials and tribulations of childhood. It is a serious, sometimes life-threatening problem that plagues both our schools and our community. The federal government’s anti-bullying campaign, StopBullying.gov, provides the public with information on bullying behavior, who is at risk, and ways to prevent and deal with bullying.
The month of October marks several significant days within the field of mental health. The College of Public Service would like to raise awareness on the importance of mental health as it is commonly ignored due to the negative stigma which surrounds mental illnesses.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is one of the nation’s first federal emergency response divisions and can trace its beginnings to the Congressional Act of 1803. Currently FEMA has more than 7,400 employees across the country working in either their headquarters in Washington, D.C., one of ten regional offices, the National Emergency Training Center, or other locations.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) based in Washington, D.C. is the federal agency that leads President Obama’s national call to service initiative. It is their goal to engage Americans of all ages and backgrounds in community service. On average, more than 1.5 million Americans volunteer through CNCS each year. CNCS operates programs to aid the community including Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America.
Read stories of inspiration, overcoming challenges, and making a difference in public service from Kaplan University students.
Meet early childhood development graduate Kelly Condie and how she applied her Kaplan University education to her career as the director of a nonprofit childcare center.
Betsy Kuecker grew up in Iowa and earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from a local university. She worked in corporate marketing right out of college, then a year later she got a job with her alma mater. She found that she really enjoyed working with the students and transitioned later to working at a nonprofit church camp. Her inclination to teach grew stronger.
Learn about Kaplan University graduate Paul Myers and how gaining an online master’s degree in education is helping him reach his goals in educational leadership.
Jeremy Bergstrom earned his Bachelor of Science in Environmental Policy and Management from Kaplan University and is now helping to preserve our natural resources for future generations.
Today Genevieve teaches the students at Orange Morris Middle School how to prepare for and use evolving technology.
Read this month's Student Spotlight on Master of Science in Higher Education graduate Andres West who is combining his love for agriculture with his higher education degree to teach others about horticulture.
Jessica Anker has always loved to help others. As a high school student, she started volunteering her time to people in need, and for nearly 10 years she has been helping put together food baskets for the hungry around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“I am so happy to be in the field I love…I feel like I’m
really making a difference in children’s lives!”
Learn more about Kaplan University Student Air Force Staff Sergeant James Swann and his work training military work dogs.
Kaplan University students Melanie and Dave Thomas help save a dog and train him to be a service dog that helps Dave with his mobility and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Meet School of Health Sciences graduate Kelly Oliver, MPH, CHES
and her pursuit to use her public health and health education knowledge and
career to improve the quality of life for others.
Chris Spielhagen, 34, is a Team Sergeant in the 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson, Colorado, and a student at Kaplan University. Born and raised in Boston, he went with his wife and daughter to run the Boston Marathon and to see his extended family. Two minutes after he crossed the finish line, the nightmare began.
Cheri Schumann is a Kaplan University psychology graduate whose dream was to become a substance abuse counselor to help people struggling with addiction. Read her story to learn more about her journey to start a career in the addictions field.
Arthur started working as a substance abuse case worker at his local outreach center. Arthur doesn’t look at his job as just going out and getting a paycheck—he feels he’s responsible for somebody else’s life.
Master of Science in Higher Education graduate is a passionate advocate for helping children with disabilities, and has dedicated his life to creating a better world for them. Learn more about Phillip and his goal to teach teachers how to better serve their special needs students.
As a behavior analyst, Catie works with families and children, helping them meet their needs and bringing a voice to children unable to speak or communicate.
"The children I work with
are so special. It is wonderful to see them grow and evolve under my care. Even
the simplest tasks can seem so daunting to some of these kids. When they
accomplish something, even just tying their shoes, their confidence soars and they
can take on new tasks. It is very fulfilling and rewarding."
MS in Psychology student Cheryl Ocampo changed her career path so she could help children with behavioral disabilities. She also has a child with autism which led her to create a nonprofit focused on helping families become the best advocates they can be for their children.
Human services graduate Gerod Washington enjoys his job as a resident childcare assistant for a local children’s home, and he has been there for nearly 10 years. He is responsible for covering treatment plans with residents, completing paperwork, arranging medical needs, addressing behavior issues, and de-escalating situations.
Linda Dreisbach–in the face of life’s challenges, psychology student goes back to school determined to one day start her own private counseling practice.
“I still pinch myself that I had the nerve to pick myself up
and go back to school to develop a great career and be a great example to my
sons. I tell anyone who listens that if I can do it they can too!”
Educating kids and empowering others to improve their lives, especially for the sake of their families, has always been a passion for human services graduate Arnez Cooper. She is responsible for the case management of 36 families through site visits, developing and overseeing parenting groups, providing ongoing support planning, and helping with everyday needs such as housing and food.
Human services graduate Tabatha Tasker is the founder of Operation Santa 2012 in her West Virginia town of Terra Alta. All year long she has been collecting donations to help provide Christmas gifts and household goods to children and families in need.
“My experience at Kaplan University gave me a new confidence that I didn't have before. The portfolio classes made me realize that I really do have the credentials to be a human service professional,” she said. “I don't think I realized how much work experience I had gained. By analyzing this part of my career, I gained more self-esteem and confidence!”
Inspired by a family of social good, Kaplan University alumni helps high-risk adolescents in foster care while continuing to pursue her graduate degree in psychology.
According to Ron C. Thornton, his degree and pursuit of education helps him “inspire [his] students to reach for the sky. It represents what hard work can do for you.” He says, “this is what I need to do in life . . . You get to give back and help someone else succeed in life.”
Josey Dunagan’s position as a special advocate often involves meeting with children who have been placed with relatives or a foster family and with the children’s custodial families. She speaks on behalf of children at court hearings and makes recommendations about their permanent placements. She also assists parents and foster parents and works closely with Child Protective Services.
Kris Szovati collaborates with classroom teachers at a maximum-security prison to provide accommodations and differentiated instruction for students with disabilities. She has worked with inmates with learning disabilities as well as those who are physically, visually, or hearing impaired. She ensures that the institution complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and court mandates involving inmates with disabilities.
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