The very first taste: Confessions of a nutrition major

Greetings to all you hopeless romantics who still read newspapers! I’m Audrey, and thank you for visiting this section of the Dominican Star.

By Audrey Roen

I’ll start by sharing a story with you. Before transferring to Dominican, I attended college in Iowa for two years and the experience was interesting to say the least. Despite the hilarious students and the never-ending cornfields, the foodie in me found most interesting the campus attitude toward food. I worked in the dorm cafeteria and found the portion sizes and ingredients to be double, maybe triple, that of a typical serving size. The cafeteria staff kept asking students if they’d had enough to eat, offering empty plates for return trips to the food stations.

And if I thought their portion sizes were wacky, I saw an invention that made me question the sanity of all Iowans: deep-fried Oreos! Heard of them? Had one before? They are a “thing” in Iowa. And, what’s more, the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines creates those as well as things like deep-fried Snickers bars, an eight-foot long butter statue of a cow, and deep-fried butter on a stick. Amidst my confusion in the seemingly butter-obsessed state, I heard a saying from my food service manager that explained a lot. He said, “Here, you need to eat your next meal now. You don’t know if there will be a next one.”

LIGHTBULB! It was that message that summed up a world of connections between the way we eat and the quality of our health. It was then I understood why a large plate was standard, why butter was the main ingredient and why the attitude was “eat more now”: these farm-raised Midwesterners avoid hunger. A worthy goal, I thought, but I wonder how someone could possibly diet in this mindset. The stress of losing weight, lowering cholesterol, managing diabetes, etc., seemed impossible. As someone who has struggled with eating and health in the past, I wanted to understand more about these connections between people and food. Ask any nutrition major; the more we can understand these connections and problems, the closer we are to finding solutions.

This and more will be explored in this column. From interviews to commentary, from research studies to fun facts, it will be sometimes snarky and sometimes serious, but always about nutrition… and a little bit of life. I hope you read!

Dominican’s diversity initiatives strengthened

By Sara Scheler

Christina Perez, Director of the Study of Women and Gender Program, gave up her sabbatical last spring to accept the interim Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position.

Perez said the main task of the CDO is to build on the foundation the sisters have laid, implement processes and programs to help people live and work together at Dominican, and prepare students, faculty and staff to deal with a diverse set of people. “Our world is rapidly changing…we cannot expect that our mission will protect us from [inequality].”

Perez works with the Student Diversity Steering Committee to encourage student-centered initiatives. She also advises the Academic Diversity Committee, which holds faculty programs and the Staff Inclusion Committee, which teaches best hiring practices, and oversees faculty and staff workshops that support undocumented and LGBTQ students.

The CDO position was created as a response to the federally-mandated requirement that universities redesign their policies and procedures regarding sexual violence. In 2013, Dominican began this process and, according to Perez, made it “bigger and better, not merely compliant.”

All Dominican employees are now required to report abuse if they see it or have contact with a person who may have been abused. Seven faculty and staff have been trained as Confidential Victim Advocates so far—more will be trained in the future. University leaders have been, and will continue to be, trained in confidential reporting and victim advocacy.

Previously, the Dean of Students handled reports of abuse and there were separate procedures for faculty, staff and students. Perez helped launch a website where anyone can anonymously report a case of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

In addition, Perez has helped re-write Dominican’s Gender-Based and Sexual Misconduct and Bias-Motivated Conduct policies.

The goal of the CDO, according to Perez, is to ensure that “we are serving all students to the best of our ability.”

Study abroad students immerse themselves in culture

By Sarah Tinoco

Dominican University boasts an abundance of study abroad programs, which allows many students to immerse themselves in a foreign culture.

This past summer, groups of Dominican students traveled to four countries on three continents across the world: France, Italy, El Salvador and China.

A handful of apparel design and merchandising students spent a month studying in the fashion capital of the world: Paris, France. These students spent their time studying at the Paris American Academy as part of the Essentials of French Fashion Program, an annual study abroad program exclusive to upperclassmen apparel students.

Besides experiencing the City of Lights, students took two classes at the Paris American Academy. In one class, students learned basic design techniques; in another class, they learned about the couture techniques of an iconic Paris-based designer.

Students pose with Scottie Pippen in Florence, who was in town for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's wedding.

Students pose with Scottie Pippen in Florence, who was in town for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding.

“We also got to dress at couture fashion shows, which was amazing! I loved being able to see the work of professional designers up close and feeling like I was part of something special,” said Adeline Harrison, a senior apparel design major.

Across the Mediterranean in Italy, students spent four weeks in Florence as a part of the Florence and the Cultural Traditions of Italy program, a re-start after the program took a year hiatus.

Back east in Central America, Dominican students spent two weeks in El Salvador learning about human rights, gender and globalization in the Pacific coast nation.

“We spent a week in class at Dominican learning about the history of El Salvador, its culture, its people and our relationship to…the United States,” senior sociology and study of women and gender student Megan McDonald said. “The trip in itself was essentially taking our classroom studies abroad. We took this knowledge and expanded it on the ground through meetings with Salvadoran natives, government officials and prominent religious leaders.”

McDonald’s eyes were opened to the society of the developing country as she observed the differences of El Salvador in comparison to the U.S.

“In the United States, I believe we often think that our answers to the question of how we should live are the right answers. Traveling abroad to El Salvador made me see what damage forcing our ideals onto other societies can cause,” said McDonald.

Students catch a glimpse of the skyline in Shanghai.

Students catch a glimpse of the skyline in Shanghai.

Over in Asia, students embarked on a 12-day trip as part of the program “China: Modernization, Tradition and Culture.” Students experienced the life and culture of Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an as they took a Chinese calligraphy class and a traditional Peking opera mask-painting class, junior Paulina Wojtach said.

“My favorite part of the trip [was] the day that we rode bikes on the Xi’an City Wall. It was a nine-mile ride around on the wall. It was different than most of the other sites that we had visited,” Wojtach, a clinical psychology major, said. It was more of a bonding experience rather than a learning experience at the time.”

“I feel studying abroad is such an essential part of growing into yourself…it teaches you to see the world from a perspective other than your own,” McDonald said. “It forces you out of your comfort zone, physically and mentally.”

Michael Brown case activates Dominican students

By Jocelyn Cano

Thunder roared above the Cloister Walk as students and staffstood in unison at the Black-Lives Matter! Human Lives Matter! Justice for Mike Brown! Walkout.

The rally on August 25th was held in support of Michael Brown, acase that has sparked heated controversy and arguments on racial issues and police brutality. On Aug. 9th, African-American 18-year-old Michael Brown, was shot and killed by white police officer Joe Belmar.

Shortly thereafter, riots and protests broke out in Ferguson, MO. The facts on exactly how and why Brown was killed still remain a mystery, but that has not stopped the retaliation.

Dominican faculty, staff and students braved the threat of bad weather. The walkout began with an introduction by Claire Noonan, Vice President of Mission and Ministry, and an interfaith prayer by senior Briana Martinez. A list of allegedpolice brutality victims was read by senior Stephanie Zavala.

The walkout was a way to show support for Brown’s family and the people of Ferguson and to raise awareness about police brutality.

Members of the Dominican Immigrant Student Collective, an on-campus support system that creates safe spaces for undocumented students, helped put together the rally. Planning began just two days in advance of the event.

“Arianna [Salgado] came to me with this idea. She was asking us to help put this together on campus. She was asking [us] to participate in this National Hands Up Walkout,” Zavala said.

Despite the last-minute planning, professors, faculty members and students showed up and participated. “I was overwhelmed with the response [and] at the group of people,” Zavala said. “It says a lot about Dominican. I come here knowing that this is a place that supports justice and pursues truth. It’s nice to feel that we have the support of the staff and that they’re following Dominican values.”

President Donna Carroll stood among the crowd. “I am proud of them that they took initiative,” Carroll said.

Dominican’s Student Government Association (SGA) has taken matters into their own hands and is developing different plans to work with the River Forest Police Department (RFPD). These plans include setting up a diversity committee within SGA, and planning educational pieces regarding the situation in Ferguson. President of SGA, Cuberto Aguayo has been working with administration to create a panel discussing the Ferguson case and how it relates to bigger issues in the country.

“SGA is planning to craft a memorandum of understanding of what [Dominican] students should expect from the River Forest Police Department,” President Aguayo said. “This memorandum of understanding will give students a better idea of what to expect during a police encounter with RFPD.” It will enforce what should already be expected from our police department; this is a step SGA is taking to prevent policy abuse.

Aguayo said RFPD does have the option to reject the memorandum but that he will “Purse any means necessary to make sure they sign.”

Dominican opens state-of-the-art nursing program

By Sara Scheler

Monday marked the first day of classes for Dominican students and a special day for the first nursing students the school has seen. Through generous donations from Westlake hospital, Dominican renovated the fourth floor of Parmer Hall to create a state-of-the-art nursing lab, where 20 students will work their way toward B.S.N. degrees.

Twenty percent of the new students are men, which is an impressive statistic for Dominican and for the nursing field.

Students gain admission into the nursing program during their junior or senior year. They must have a 2.75 GPA and score well on a basic skills test. Director Debra Gurney, EdD, RN, proudly announced that the incoming class has a cumulative GPA of 3.34 and a 72 average on the TEASE skills test–a “really good” score.

The nursing program is composed of 13 courses, 8 of which have a clinical component. Students will complete 814 contact hours at sites across the Chicagoland area, including Rush Oak Park Hospital and West Suburban Medical Center.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the program is the state-of-the-art Laerdal clinical simulation mannequins. The lab has four lifelike, high-functioning mannequins that can be programed for almost any condition. They can sweat, bleed, turn blue, and even die. One mannequin can give birth, complete with fluids. “The mother is quite messy,” explained Maureen Emlund, MSN, RN, clinical simulation manager.

The new nursing facility features lifelike mannequins connected to simulators.

The new nursing facility features lifelike mannequins connected to simulators.

Students can program the mannequins during open hours in the lab if they need more practice on a particular scenario.

All simulations are videotaped so students can discuss the simulation after it has finished. This process helps students celebrate the things they did right, note things they would have done differently, and gives them a boost of confidence, Emlund explained.

Documentation is an important part of the program. Students will gain real-life experience with electronic medical records by entering notes, medicinal dosages and procedures into the lab’s mobile laptops.

Dominican’s nursing program is unique due the amount of hands-on experience it offers. “Students are in [the lab] every day,” Emlund said. Another unique factor is Dominican’s liberal arts curriculum, which shapes students who have a broad range of knowledge and abilities. Gurney said the nursing program focuses on holistic, whole-person treatment. In addition, the new nursing faculty has an impressive amount of experience. Emlund has been a pediatric nurse for 15 years; Gurney was on an administrator and faculty member at Rockford University, City Colleges of Chicago, St. Anthony Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital.

A nursing program is ideal for Dominican, given our emphasis on caring and compassion. Gurney said, “Nursing really speaks to Dominican’s vision.”

Gurney has high hopes for the nursing program’s future. Incoming freshmen selected nursing as their number one desired major.