2022 UCO Reach Higher: Reconnect Week

UCO GraduatesFinish What You Started! 

Complete your college degree 100% online through the Reach Higher – Organizational Leadership program at the University of Central Oklahoma. Reach Higher: FlexFinish is a program for BUSY ADULTS that uses your existing college credits to develop a personalized degree completion program at an AFFORDABLE TUITION rate.

2022 Reach Higher: Reconnect Week –
March 26 – April 1, 2022

Join program representatives at both Rose State and OSU-OKC through out the week as well as any of the special events below during Reach Higher Week to learn more about the program and an opportunity to receive a tuition stipend during your first semester!

Rose State
March 30 | 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Student Union

March 29 | 10:00 am – 2:00 pm Student Union
March 30 | 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm Student Union

  1. MEET WITH AN ADVISOR – Win an Amazon Gift Card! Schedule a time to meet virtually with one of our program academic advisors to ask specific questions and see what your degree plan will look like. The first 15 students to schedule appointments will receive $20 Amazon gift cards. Schedule your appointment time.
  2. GET ENROLLED – Win a Tuition Stipend! The first five students to meet with an advisor and enroll in the Reach Higher – Organizational Leadership program during Reach Higher Week will receive a $500 tuition waiver during their first semester at UCO.

Sign up here for more information about Reach Higher Week!

What’s Going on in Central Station?

Newly completed food science kitchen space.

Newly completed food science kitchen space in UCO’s Human Environmental Sciences building.

Construction sign outside the Human Environmental Sciences BuildingIf you’ve been on campus near the Human Environmental Sciences building this summer, you may have noticed workers in hard hats and various construction vehicles. Behind all of the noise and “No Trespassing” signs, UCO’s student run café and food management kitchen have been getting a much-needed facelift!

First opened in 2001, Central Station provides students in the nutrition and food science program a chance to gain firsthand experience working in a commercial-style kitchen and restaurant. The café is a hit on campus, often a favorite lunch spot of faculty and staff members, but was in serious need of safety and design updates due to its age and lack of new equipment.

Construction workers complete demolition of the previous kitchen area space.

Construction workers complete demolition of the previous kitchen area space. 

Since April, workers have completed a full renovation of the food preparation kitchen and lab that accompanies the café, installing new hood ventilation systems, commercial-grade ovens and stoves, and completely redesigning the food preparation space with movable, stainless steel islands and ceiling electrical outlet extensions. A finished product that bares almost no resemblance to the old kitchen – a space that was nearly fifty years old.

“Probably the most important benefit of this renovation was making the food labs safe for the students who use them, but also the safety of all students, staff and faculty using the HES building,” said Susan Woods, Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator of Central Station.

New Kitchen Equipment

New, commercial-grade equipment in the remodeled kitchen area.

“The lab has gone from looking like your grandma’s kitchen to looking like a restaurant kitchen – stainless steel and commercial hoods over all cooking equipment. Now, students will be able to graduate from UCO, become a food service director, and have an appropriate example in mind of how food service should run.”

And, the project is only halfway done. In February, the full restaurant side of the renovation will be completed, giving both spaces much safer and newer designs. This fall, five courses will be held in the kitchen, one of which will be Central Station running as a to-go restaurant. A kiosk will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays on the north end of the HES building in the hallway near the stairs. Guests can order via centralstationcafe@uco.edu, call (405) 974-5506, or order at the kiosk. Delivery options on campus are also available. For more information about Central Station and to view the upcoming menu, visit the café’s website.

Fashion with a Mission

Student working on sewing project

Audrey Estes, junior fashion marketing major, sews her Dress a Girl dress as part of her final class project.

With social distancing measures in place during the spring 2021 semester, UCO fashion marketing adjunct instructor Marsha Swift needed a new final project idea for her Basic Clothing Construction course. In a normal year, students would sew items based on their own measurements with the assistance of classmates, but the pandemic presented challenges to the traditional curriculum.

“Due to social distancing, I needed a project that avoided fitting a student’s individual clothing project on him or her,” said Swift.
“This is how Dress a Girl fit our needs by completing a project that utilized sewing techniques we learned earlier in class.”

Dress a Girl is an international nonprofit that provides new, hand-sewn dresses to women and girls around the world through donations from various organizations. The dresses are adjustable in size and must fit several pattern guidelines as outlined on the organization’s website.
With the new project in mind, Swift was able to secure the needed resources and even relate it directly to several of UCO’s central tenets of transformative learning.

“Phi Upsilon Omicron [National Honors Society in Family and Consumer Sciences] generously gave me money to purchase fabric for our dresses, and each student contributed color coordinated bias tape and thread,” said Swift.
“This project addressed two of UCO’s Transformative Learning Tenets: Global and Cultural Competencies and Service Learning and Civic Engagement.”

Student stands with completed dresses.

Fashion marketing student Yareli Ramirez with several completed dresses.

In total, Swift’s students sewed eleven new dresses in various colors and styles to donate to the organization which they learned will be delivered to girls in El Salvador later this summer. A memorable project for students that combined their craft with the chance to make an impact on people they may never meet.

“To sum up my students’ comments, they were grateful to actually get to complete a dress for someone else. So many students could not believe this might be the only dress a girl would have to wear. The Dress a Girl label, sewn on the pockets, was a lesson about empowering a young girl’s future.”

Oklahoma Preschool for the Deaf Early Childhood Education Center at UCO

Nestled between Mitchell Hall Theatre and University Street on UCO’s campus is a small building called the President’s Annex, home to a special kind of preschool that serves the local community and provides valuable learning opportunities to current UCO students. The Oklahoma Preschool for the Deaf Early Childhood Education Center at UCO has been housed on campus for over twenty years through a partnership between the Oklahoma School for the Deaf and UCO’s Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Program. The school has one, full-time teacher and several graduate students in the UCO SLP program that teach and provide speech-language treatment to three, four and five-year-olds with hearing impairments four days a week under the supervision of UCO faculty members. The program is free to any child with a documented hearing impairment.

“We have kids from all over the metro area who attend,” said Amy Thomas, faculty supervisor of the preschool.

“We have a normal preschool curriculum, and we provide sign language support as well as normal voicing support. We have a total communication philosophy in the UCO speech-language program which means we use signing and voice together.”

Thomas herself was a graduate assistant at the preschool during her time at Central before pursuing a variety of jobs in the field of speech-language pathology. She returned to UCO in 2019 to take over as an instructor in the SLP program and the supervisor of graduate students at the preschool. Thomas explained the school offers unique opportunities to graduate students at UCO they might not receive in just the traditional classroom setting while also providing valuable resources to parents and preschoolers in the metro area as well.

“Everything I learned in this preschool when I was a student enriched my career, and I will be forever grateful for my experiences here,” she recalled.

“Just to see the way you can enrich language throughout the child’s school day gives our graduate students a more full picture of this career field.”

UKalen Lomas, Lucy Sargent and Katelyn Tunnell are all first-year graduate students in the UCO SLP program and assist with speech-language treatment for the preschoolers. Lomas and Tunnell provide teletherapy sessions several days a week focusing on sign-language and expressive language skills, and Sargent works in-person at the preschool assisting the children with anything from learning the days of the week to learning how to write their name.

“It’s really interesting being in the preschool because you get to experience working with children in a different way than just with speech therapy,” said Sargent.

“Here, your goals are more teaching them how to be around each other and be social.”

While they each provide a different type of service to the students depending on the semester, they all agree the experiences have been both rewarding and valuable to their future careers.

“I have been working with a little girl this semester who really doesn’t have a lot of vocalization skills, but I get to help her use her voice,” said Tunnell.

“It is so exciting and so rewarding when she finally is able to repeat something. It is so much fun, just a very rewarding place to be.”

Recalling her experiences being in the preschool, Sargent said, “I have learned so much about behavior management. I have learned how to be flexible which is something I really didn’t think about until I started working with kids. Also, sign language… getting to do it ten hours a week with the kids has been amazing for me.”

In all, the preschool is able to serve a twofold mission: providing a space for children with hearing impairments to attend preschool and receive specialized services at no cost and creating opportunities for current UCO students to expand their skills and develop new experiences in their field. To learn more about the preschool, visit the Oklahoma School for the Deaf website or contact Amy Thomas at athomas57@uco.edu.

To donate to one of several scholarships available for students in the Speech-Language Pathology program at Central, visit one of the scholarship links below:

New CEPS Faculty – Fall 2020

Several new faculty members will be joining the Broncho family this fall across several departments within the College of Education and Professional Studies. Below are the names of the new faculty within each department.

Department of Adult Education and Safety Sciences

  • Janet Handwerk, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Yadira Reyes-Pena, Lecturer
  • Monica Walls, Visiting Instructor

Donna Nigh Department of Advanced Professional and Special Services

  • Ed Collins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Department of Educational Sciences, Foundations and Research

  • Joseph Mathews, Ed.D., Assistant Professor

Department of Human Environmental Sciences

  • Joanne Wong, Instructor

Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies

  • Eric Conchola, Ph.D., Instructor
  • Ericka Johnson, Lecturer
  • Kerry Morgan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Kim Reeves, Lecturer

Department of Psychology

  • Heloisa Campos, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Kaitlyn Downey Ph.D., Assistant Professor
  • Vickie Jean, Ph.D., Lecturer
  • Sean McMillan, Lecturer
  • Heather Shea, Lecturer
  • Nathaniel Stafford, Ph.D., Lecturer


Psychology Students Go Digital to Assist Parents and Teachers with Distance Learning

During a normal semester in Central’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst psychology certification program, graduate students would travel to various elementary schools in the Oklahoma City metro community throughout the week to provide behavioral consultations and evaluations for special education students. But, spring 2020 was anything but normal for everyone.

Dr. Singleton shares a behavioral consultation video on the Behavior Central YouTube page.

The program is under the direction of Scott Singleton, DPSY, associate professor of psychology, and is funded each year by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The goal is to assist special education teachers by providing behavioral intervention training and assessments for children with severe behavioral issues in the classroom, such as physical-aggression or self-injury.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced state school shutdowns and all UCO courses to transition online for the remainder of the semester, Singleton and his students were left wondering how they could continue to provide this special assistance to students and parents.

“When COVID came, obviously that changed everything because we can’t be in person, and those kids were now trying to receive education through some sort of distance learning format,” Singleton said.

“So we were trying to figure out how we could still help.”

The solution came in the form of a YouTube channel created by the students with educational videos for both teachers and parents on how to handle and prevent behavioral issues with distance learning. Video topics ranged from how to use positive reinforcement, correct behavioral issues and teach children to wear masks and understand social distancing, to tips on proper mental health and well-being for teachers. Over 25 videos have been created and shared so far – many averaging well over one hundred views.

“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback through the state Department of Education, through teachers and teachers’ groups but also from parents. And that’s one thing we’re proud of is we get a lot of positive comments from both teachers groups and some of the parent advocacy groups,” he explained.

A screenshot of a student sharing a video.

A UCO BCBA student shares a video on how to assist children with distance learning.

While providing a much-needed service to parents and teachers during the pandemic, the videos also proved to be a valuable learning experience for students in the program as well. Providing a behavioral analysis instruction in a short video sometimes was difficult, but Singleton says it allowed students to gain a deeper knowledge for the material and a better appreciation for how to put that knowledge into practice.

“One of the difficult things about these videos is that we’re trying to convey some very technical types of interventions and principles, but the students had to be able to use everyday language that people could understand but also try to condense the videos down to five minutes. It gave them a chance to really learn more about the concepts that we’re targeting.”

Overall, the students were glad to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of special education children and their parents, especially during a time that often was faced with stress and uncertainty. Some videos have even been featured on psychology podcasts and used by school districts as professional development opportunities for teachers. And, since the program has already received funding for a second year, Singleton already plans to continue the YouTube channel in the future.

The Behavior Central YouTube channel is public and currently available for any parents or teachers to utilize.

Student Spotlight: Donovan Cousan

Donovan Cousan PresentationDonovan Cousan, a 2019 community/public health graduate, interned this summer with Project IMHOTEP, which is supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He was selected as one of seven students from Project IMHOTEP to present his poster at CDC Headquarters. The title of his presentation was ‘The Progression in Biodefense: Exploratory Analysis of the National Biodefense Strategy.’

Presentations were given to the CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS), the Dr. James A. Ferguson emerging Infectious Diseases Graduate Fellows and CDC staff.

Faculty Recognitions: Rachelle Franz

Franz receives award from OKC Fire DepartmentUCO College of Education and Professional Studies faculty member, Rachelle Franz, Ed.D., was recognized by the Oklahoma City Fire Department for her assistance with the OK CHILD Injury Prevention Program. This program was created to educate children and families across Oklahoma to prevent unintentional child injuries and deaths. UCO students and Franz developed all lesson plans utilized in the program. Franz currently serves as an associate professor in the department of kinesiology and health studies.

Student Spotlight: Eric Sample

Recent UCO industrial safety graduate Eric Sample was chosen to serve the State of Oklahoma as a youth judge for a statewide video contest, “Speak Out for Workplace Safety.” As a judge, Sample worked with a panel of judges to narrow down the 51 video entries to one that would be used to teach teens about workplace safety. The contest was hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Labor (ODOL) and the Oklahoma Safety Council (OSC).

Eric Sample with Oklahoma Labor CommissionerSample attended the “Speak Out for Workplace Safety” event at the Capitol and had the opportunity to listen to speeches from Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Leslie Osborn, Senator Rob Standridge (District 15), Senator Casey Murdock (District 27), and top safety experts Carmen Martinez (Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and Betsey Kulakowski (OSC).

Study Tour Captures Power of Transformative Learning Experience

When Susan Hanny began her graduate degree at UCO in 2016, the notion of studying abroad did not seem possible. Hanny was a nontraditional, adult student with two children and a full-time job; however, when she heard about a spring break study tour to Italy through the Adult Education and Safety Sciences department in March of 2017, her longtime love of travel and desire to visit Europe led her to accept the opportunity. The study tour, titled, “An Italian Experience,” was led by UCO professor Lori Risley, Ed.D., and centered on the themes of culture, education and leadership. During the tour, each student was required to prepare and plan an itinerary for one day of the trip. This allowed students to take an experimental approach to what they were learning about adult and higher education and leadership and apply it in a real-world setting with fellow travelers.

“Students were responsible for navigating the group through transportation and daily activities,” Risley said. “They had to do a lot of pre-planning for this, and most of the transportation signs aren’t in English which makes it even more difficult.” The tour included visits to significant sites in both Padua and Venice and gave UCO students a glimpse at the history, architecture and artistic elements of the country. The group even had the opportunity to interact with students and faculty from the University of Padua. Transformed and encouraged by this ten-day educational and cultural experience, Hanny then requested permission from the university to develop her own independent study course to conduct research on the same tour in 2018, with Risley as her mentor.

The goal was to discern the ways in which students experience transformative learning through an international study tour. This time, Hanny traveled to Italy as a research observer. The results of her research displayed a strong connection between study tours and the transformative learning concept. Each participant found he or she had been transformed in some way by the study tour, and surveys of the students showed the experience proved significant in displaying the concept of transformative learning. Some students, many who were middle-aged adults, gained a stronger appreciation for art or culture, while others were simply given the opportunity to experience life outside of the United States for the first time.

“Study tours can move people from just learning knowledge to actually seeking experiences that mean something and are valuable to them as a person.” – Susan Hanny

Her findings, with assistance from Risley, were recently published in an international journal, and the experience has encouraged her to continue her education by recently applying to the Swansea at UCO Ph.D. program. Both Hanny and Risley agree that they hope these opportunities continue to remain a possibility for graduate learners in hopes that more will be impacted and transformed. For more information on how to support the UCO College of Education’s study tour programs, contact Erin Ta at eta1@uco.edu.