WINDREF Research Selective Opens World of Possibilities for St. George’s DVM Graduate

2012 news monkeyFor as long as she can remember, Emily Talkington, SGUDVM ’05, MSc, had one goal in mind – to become a veterinarian. However, it was not until her third term at St. George’s University, when she participated in a research selective in Uganda through the Windward Islands Research & Education Foundation (WINDREF), an independent research institute located on St. George’s True Blue Campus in Grenada, that she recognized her passion for working with exotic animals. Since graduating, Dr. Talkington has worked with exotic species in West Africa, rescuing African Grey Parrots in Limbe and treating orphaned chimpanzees in the Cameroonian bush, helping to usher them back to their natural habitat.

“Participating in the research selective was an amazing experience that I was able to use as a springboard toward achieving my goals,” Dr. Talkington said. “I feel as though I have a world of opportunities open to me with my DVM degree. I’m grateful to St. George’s for giving me the chance to do what I always wanted to do and to be able to fulfill my dream and live out my passion.”

The WINDREF research selective allowed Dr. Talkington and other medical and veterinary students to study wildlife conservation and perform field research at Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. For eight weeks she worked with animals such as lions, hyenas, and leopards.

In January 2011 she returned to Africa as a DVM to work as a volunteer for Limbe Wildlife Centre in Cameroon. She treated more than 400 mammals—including gorillas, chimpanzees, drills, and mandrills, as well as over 1,000 birds, all of which had been either orphaned from the bushmeat industry or confiscated from the illegal exotic animal trade.

Dr. Talkington then volunteered at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Centre, where she was involved in running the sanctuary while rehabilitating 74 orphaned chimpanzees. She handled everything from administering preventative medicine to disease diagnosis and treatment and credits her success to the confidence gained from her education at St. George’s.

“I loved every day at SGU and enjoyed all aspects of the program,” Dr. Talkington said. “I loved the small class size, how accessible the professors were, and that we were able to get a lot of hands-on experience.”

Currently, Dr. Talkington performs emergency work as a small animal veterinarian at the East Lake Veterinary Clinic in Watsonville, CA, just outside of Santa Cruz. She is working toward returning to Africa to continue working with great apes.

“I look forward to going back and educating Africans about the importance of trying to save their great apes, and empowering them,” Dr. Talkington said. “My soul belongs there. It’s my home.”

SGU’s DPHPM Continues its Global Recognition with AAPHP Membership

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Still fresh from receiving approval for a chapter from the Delta Omega Honors Society in Public Health, the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (DPHPM) received membership from the Association of Accredited Public Health Programs (AAPHP). This association which was built from the Council of Accredited MPH Programs (CAMP) is an exclusive group of accredited programs from the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). The DPHPM received a full five-year accreditation from the CEPH in July 2010 and was therefore eligible for membership, which was approved in February 2012.

“The department’s membership to the AAPHP is another success in meeting its stated vision and mission, which is being a regional international center of excellence for public health education, research, and service,” said Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, Assistant Professor and Deputy Chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

The AAPHP was established in 1999 with the mission to enhance the public’s health by fostering and promoting CEPH accreditation for MPH programs for the development of the public health workforce. AAPHP originally provided representation for health education and the behavioral and social science programs, but expanded its mission so that today AAPHP represents all interested accredited MPH programs with a strong focus on the preparation of public health practitioners. AAPHP’s overall mission is to support, represent, and advance current and emerging accredited public health programs in preparing a competent public health workforce and advancing the science and practice of population-based health. In promoting the standards associated with public health accreditation, AAPHP also has a major commitment of encouraging and supporting higher education institutions to seek and maintain CEPH accreditation.

The DPHPM’s Membership with the AAPHP will serve to continue its position to engage in the issues and initiatives regarding graduate public health education that will influence our ability to support community practice and training needs of our graduates. Some of the benefits of AAPHP membership include:

  • Update sessions at conferences regarding current issues related to CEPH accreditation
  • Representation and advocacy for programs on accreditation and certification boards
  • Regular meetings to address priorities and concerns of CEPH accredited programs
  • Opportunities for networking through support for sessions at national and international scholarly conferences
  • Sharing of strategies to maximize the potential for a successful self-study
  • Advocacy for greater involvement with national public health entities for program support and networking (e.g., representation at the CDC Leaders to Leaders Conference; serving as a member of the Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice)
  • Opportunities to engage in research that identifies the program and student characteristics of CEPH-accredited MPH programs.

Preparing competent public health practitioners is critical to the development and sustainability of a public health infrastructure ready to address existing and emerging threats to the public’s health. AAPHP membership affords the opportunity to amplify your program’s assets and impact through working with faculty colleagues around the country to tackle the needs for accountability and quality assurance, accreditation and re-accreditation support, resource acquisition, curriculum improvement and development, and undergraduate public health degree needs.

St. George’s University Joins Forces with Franklin Pierce University for Combined-Degree Program

St. George’s University is pleased to announce that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Franklin Pierce University.  This agreement was designed to offer qualified students the opportunity to pursue a career in medicine or veterinary medicine at St. George’s University after completing four years of undergraduate pre-medicine or pre-veterinary medicine studies at Franklin Pierce University.

In the works for a number of years, this new affiliation is the result of the joint desire of both St. George’s University and Franklin Pierce University to see that capable and driven students are granted convenient access to quality medical education.  After numerous visits by SGU administrators to the Franklin Pierce University campus over the last few years to work out details and program structure, the official agreement was passed in September 2011. According to Dr. Paul Kotila, Dean of the College at Rindge, “Franklin Pierce University welcomes an affiliation with St. George’s University that expands student opportunities in the health professions and complements the implementation of a new Health Sciences major and the construction of a new facility to serve this program.”

Under the terms of the agreement, students can begin planning for their future in medicine right after high school.  Applicants admitted to this combined degree program are granted a pathway from their undergraduate degree in biology or health sciences to a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.  St. George’s University’s Dean of Enrolment Planning Margaret Lambert has high hopes for this new partnership, “This exciting new venture is yet another example of how St. George’s University is dedicated to expanding the opportunities of all prospective medical physicians and veterinarians.”

SGU Team Captures First at NJ Student Challenge Bowl

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On March 2, a group of SGU students performing their clinical rotations at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, NJ, participated in the 2012 New Jersey American College of Physicians (NJ ACP) Student Challenge Bowl, taking first place by outdueling three teams from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).

The SGU team consisted of Paul Hulsberg, Eddie Martins, Marci Handler and Siddharth Joshi, with Craig Brown and Preeti Narayana serving as alternates. SGU defeated three teams from UMDNJ’s New Jersey Medical School, School of Osteopathic Medicine, and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“They have proven what we have always known, that SGU students are as good as students from any other school,” said Dr. Ashish Parikh, Program Director of the Internal Residency Program at Saint Barnabas.

In the challenge that Dr. Parikh likened to Jeopardy, each group was asked to answer 25 questions and was given 30 seconds to enter its response. Topics ranged from gastroenterology and endocrinology to physical exam signs and current events in medicine, and each question was assigned a point value between 10 and 30 points.

The competition, held at the annual regional NJ ACP chapter meeting, concluded with the final Jeopardy round, during which teams were shown a succession of four images of patients and asked to identify the different types of erythemas afflicting them. SGU was the only team to answer all four correctly, firming up its Challenge Bowl victory. The quartet prevailed despite being the only four-person team; the other schools’ teams were comprised of five students.
“It demonstrated first-hand the simple but immutable merits of hard work, teamwork and perseverance,” Joshi said.

Joshi, a fourth-year medical student, will begin his internal medicine residency at New York Methodist Hospital in July 2012, while Narayana matched into Internal Medicine at the State University of New York Health Science Center, also in Brooklyn. The other four participants are third-year students who are amid their surgery clerkships and will apply for residency in 2013.

St. George’s MBA Students Among Elite Business Schools at 2012 Hult Global Case Challenge

news mba hultHailing from more than 140 countries worldwide, St. George’s University’s faculty and student body are accustomed to working together to solve problems that persist on a worldwide level.  That’s why the theme for the 2012 Hult Global Case Challenge – global poverty – was perfect for SGU’s participation.

On February 24 and 25 in Boston, the five-person St. George’s team, all of whom are students in the  MBA in Multi-Sector Health Management Program,  competed against some of the top universities and colleges in the world at the third annual event. SGU was the only Caribbean institution selected to participate in any of the five international cities that hosted regionals: Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai. The winning team from each challenge track – Education, Energy, and Housing – in each region was granted an all-expense-paid trip to the global final in New York City on April 26. A $1 million research grant will be given to ultimate winner in each track.

The St. George’s team – Team Nathan – was comprised of Arian Robert, BSc; Nathan Kwablah, MD; Stephanie Nanayakkara, MD; Theodor Gottlieb, MD; and Yon Chong, MPH, MD. St. George’s was not selected as the Education challenge track winner – Carnegie Mellon University took home top honors – but it was nevertheless a tremendous experience for the SGU team.
“Once we got there, we realized what an accomplishment it was to even make it to regionals,” Chong said. “We didn’t get to move on to the finals, but we learned some valuable lessons that we can take back to our MBA program studies.”

Teams in the Education track were presented with the case challenge “One Laptop per Child,” which asked the group to devise a business plan to deliver 10 million laptops to 10 million children in five years.  SGU’s three-pronged approach included bringing mobile schools to rural villages, setting up laptops with webcams to create global classrooms and international friendships between students, as well as crowd sourcing. The team had approximately 10 minutes to present its model.

After submitting an essay explaining why it should be selected to present at the Challenge, St. George’s was one of just 18 institutions worldwide to be selected for the Boston region’s Education Track.  In addition to Carnegie Mellon, SGU’s competition included the Harvard Business School, the Yale School of Management, the Columbia University School of Social Work and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. While their competitors were part of full-time MBA programs and regularly met face to face, the SGU group is earning their MBAs part-time and coordinated their Hult presentation strictly online. They employed their global education from SGU and depth of experiences to address the One Laptop per Child case.

“The way we analyze things in the health care field, that’s something we brought forward, specifically our international experience,” said Kwablah. “Everyone on the team is from a different place; our experiences are different and we come from different educational systems. Our different backgrounds were the basis for our application and one of the reasons why we got a chance to be able to compete.”

Chong has worked in rural villages in Honduras and Peru as part of her medical studies, and she lived in Tanzania for her public health selective. The global classroom idea was derived from training in southern California, where she helped thousands of residents gain access to health care.

“At SGU, relating with people from other cultures opens you up and puts you at an advantage,” Chong added. “We used that whole concept of learning outside the textbook, which you get at SGU, and came up with the global classroom idea.”

SGU Med Students Take Urban Children Under Their Wing

news med students urban children under wingSince its founding in 2009, Urban Humanitarian Projects (UHP), a New York-based non-profit organization comprised of St. George’s University medical students, has concentrated its activities on serving underprivileged children in New York City.  Its latest venture, the Urban GURUS Project, was formed to combat high dropout rates in the city’s public high schools by introducing students from Park Slope Collegiate High School in Brooklyn to college and career opportunities.

It began with the wildly successful Urban Santa Project which delivered gifts to more than 1,000 underserved children in New York City on Christmas morning.  GURUS, which stand for “Guidance, Unity and Resources for Urban Success,” followed it up by hosting a Build-a-PC workshop on Saturday, January 7.

Twenty-eight computers were donated by for the Build-a-PC event, during which mentors and mentees worked to construct a computer from scratch. Upon its completion, mentees were allowed to keep the computers they helped build.

“We wanted to make sure that it was a challenge,” UHP founder Santhosh Cherian said. “Working together to solve a problem or puzzle builds a stronger bond and we’re hoping this bond extends beyond this single event.”

Maria Lagopoulos and Irem Kaplan coordinated the GURUS Project which will run through this academic year and resume in September with another class of students. GURUS works in conjunction with high schools and the New York City Department of Education.

According to reports from BoostUp, a national high school dropout prevention campaign, 32 percent of high school students in New York State either drop out or do not graduate in four years. At the root of the GURUS Project’s mission is the belief that two central facets form the foundation for educational success: guidance and resources.

“Not only is education important, but with access to technology, students have unlimited potential,” Cherian said. “It’s not that we’re trying to promote college necessarily. When they graduate from high school we just want them to have considered that as an option or, if they want to open their own business, to have the resources available to do that.”

Cherian, a third-year medical student who is rotating at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York, started UHP, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, in 2009 while on the University’s True Blue campus in Grenada. The first GURUS meeting took place this past December when mentors and mentees spent three hours wrapping gifts in preparation for Urban Santa.

Of the 19 mentors, all of which are based in New York and New Jersey, 16 are third- and fourth-year SGU students. GURUS plans to host group meetings monthly, and mentors and mentees are committed to getting together at least twice a month for activities of their choice.

St. George’s Chancellor Charles R. Modica, who advocated for the inclusion of high school students as part of the organization’s initiative, donated $6,000 to launch the program.

US National Academic Advising Association Recognizes St. George’s Department of Educational Services

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) announced that St. George’s University Department of Educational Services was selected as recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit Award for its Supplemental Learning Program (SLP). Based in the US with members representing all 50 states and Puerto Rico, for more than 30 years the NACADA has supported academic advising and recognized higher education programs that contribute to academic advising and student-related support services. St. George’s is the first Caribbean institution outside of Puerto Rico to be recognized by the association.

The award was presented to the SLP unit in early October during NACADA’s annual conference in Denver, Colorado. “We are honored that NACADA has recognized the efforts of the Supplemental Learning Program,” said Dr. Adrian Havenga, Chair and Professor of Education Services.

The voluntary group sessions are held at least once a week, providing extra academic support for the larger classes offered at the University that are traditionally found to be more rigorous. Although available to all students, Dr. Havenga stressed how the program has been extremely beneficial for incoming students. “Even though it is not mandatory, students elect to use this resource—especially in the beginning of the semester when they are still finding their feet,” he added.

In addition to surveying students and faculty, the Department monitors attendance and performance scores to review the outcomes of the program and the progress of participants. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve and for new methods that will help our students master the material,” said Peter Slinger, Instructor of Educational Services, of the continuous evaluation that goes in to developing a top learning support program.

Since its inception in 2000, the SLP functions as an academic support group primarily for students in their undergraduate and preprofessional studies, including Arts and Sciences, Charter Foundation, Premedical, and Preveterinary Medical programs. In addition to the SLP, the Department of Education Services provides academic development and support services to students and faculty across all disciplines. Close to 100 percent of the University’s students—and many of the professors—in all schools avail themselves of the support offered through a variety of innovative programs, including time management, note-taking skills, and utilizing technology effectively in teaching and learning.

NACADA is US-based international organization representing 10,000 members from higher education institutions from around the world. Members include faculty, advisors, counselors, administrators and students. The goal of NACADA has been to honor individuals and institutions making significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising.

Dr. Allen Pensick Receives the Order of the Mace, St. George’s University’s Highest Honor

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On Wednesday, October 26, 2011, Provost Dr. Allen Pensick was presented the Order of the Mace. The award was presented by the previous Mace recipient, Mr. Andy Belford, at a ceremony held at Bourne Lecture Hall and the Department of Education Services courtyard and attended by more than 200 joyful and congratulatory faculty, administration, and staff. In the 27 years Dr. Pensick has been with the University, he has made many significant contributions, including instituting the very award that he has being given.

Additionally, a second honor was bestowed on Dr. Pensick that same evening. Bell Hall — a study space on the upper True Blue campus — was renamed Allen H. Pensick Hall in his honor. The unveiling of the dedication was closely guarded and a surprise to the Provost. “Bell Hall embodies the spirit of Dr. Pensick’s value as a builder of today’s St. George’s University,” commented Margaret Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning.

Chancellor Charles R. Modica congratulated Dr. Pensick on the award, extolling his virtues and providing delightful anecdotes of working with him over the years. He spoke of Dr. Pensick’s dedication and praised him for his habit of rising to challenges and always seeing room for hope in situations others might have seen as impossible. Dr. Pensick was very moved by comments made by his fellow faculty members and graciously accepted the award, expressing his thanks and appreciation of the profound gesture.

Dean Lambert also commented: “It is fitting that Al Pensick should receive this Order of the Mace as it was originally his idea to bring it into being … One of his passions is creating the accoutrements and symbols of tradition. Al has very effectively created a visual symbol for the gravitas of this University — and the Mace as a visual foundation for St. George’s University has permeated almost the whole of the University’s ethos. It has become a true symbol: When the Mace appears, the University is signaling importance and gravitas.”

Dean Lambert went on to highlight several of Dr. Pensick’s accomplishments at and for the University, which included supporting the establishment of several key departments like the Department of Educational Services and the Office of Institutional Advancement, Communications and Public Health. He has also been instrumental in developing the Faculty Senate and in recruiting and developing excellent faculty over the years. Dr. Pensick is also credited with being the person to put structures in place to support the growing university. Dean Lambert expressed: “It is his incredible, relentless idealism fueled by his indefatigable pragmatism that has allowed us to grow into the untouchable University that we are today.” SGU is very proud to have Dr. Pensick on its team and is truly grateful for his dedication and his invaluable contributions.

St. George’s University created the Order of the Mace in 2007 coinciding with its 30th anniversary. This award is symbolic of the unique spirit of our University and is granted to those rare individuals who embody and drive that spirit forward into the community, the region and the world.

Grenada – Campaign for a Healthier Lifestyle

Campaign supported by Grenada’s Kirani James – newly crowned 400m world champion

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The campaign for a healthier Grenada – spearheaded by ‘Sport for Health in the Caribbean,’ with the support of the Government of Grenada and the Grenada National Olympic Committee—will be given added impetus as a result of national research findings involving 500 Grenadians, on their motivation for leading a healthier lifestyle. This was announced in London by Dr. Calum Macpherson, Director of Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF)—the research institute at St. George’s University.

A major objective of the campaign is to confront the challenges of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The announcement made at the conclusion of the United Nations NCD Summit in New York this past September, “will enable us to develop a national database and measure results on whether the campaign has made a lasting impact among different age and sex populations throughout Grenada. And, if not, what needs to be done.”

Dr. Macpherson pointed out that “a recent study, in collaboration with Grenada’s Ministry of Health and the Grenada Heart Project, has shown that 80 percent of Grenadian women over the age of 25 are classified as obese. We seek to galvanize Grenadians in the battle for a healthier lifestyle and pass on the lessons learned to other Caribbean countries.”

Funds for the campaign were raised at the WINDREF dinner at the House of Lords last November, hosted by WINDREF’s President, Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, and Baroness Howells of St Davids, the only Grenadian in the House of Lords.

At the dinner Lord Coe, Chairman of the London Olympic Games Organizing Committee, spoke of the “power of the Games to inspire change, particularly for young people.” The role model and first sporting ambassador for the campaign is Kirani James, Grenada’s first gold athletics winner at the recent World Athletics Championships.

With the formation of the Sport for Health Committee in Grenada, including former Governor General Sir Paul Scoon and Speaker of the House of Representatives George McGuire, the campaign was formally launched in Grenada in March. Sporting ambassadors were appointed in Grenada’s 22 secondary schools to support sporting activities in their schools and local communities. The most successful sporting ambassador will be invited to attend the Olympic Games in London, a major incentive for the newly appointed ‘ambassadors.’

“The research study will involve the sporting ambassadors in selecting suitable participants,” said Dr. Macpherson. “We will also work with three fitness centers, or boot camps, run by the police, and students in the School of Arts and Sciences at St. George’s University. The idea is that there should be a competitive element behind the data collection from the various sources – with participants regularly weighed and measured and the figures being released to Grenada’s national news media.”

The campaign is being supported by leading former Caribbean sportspeople including Olympic gold medalist Tessa Sanderson; former leading footballers Cyrille Regis and Garth Crooks; and Jason Roberts from Grenada, who plays for Blackburn Rovers.

St. George’s University Establishes Teaching Hospital in Grenada

St. George’s University and the Government of Grenada have signed an agreement which establishes a teaching hospital on the island. The project, which has been in development for some time, speaks to the 35-year relationship the University has with the Government.

“This agreement further cements St. George’s University’s commitment to help in the development of a quality health education program to the Caribbean for students from Commonwealth nations and from around the world,” says Charles R. Modica, St. George’s University Chancellor. “By adding to the elective and intern program already in place and establishing this full teaching program that operated by the University, we are able to provide a quality graduate and post graduate program in Grenada. Our students will be able to perform clinical rotations in Grenada, in addition to the clinical rotations available at many top affiliated hospital and clinical centers in the US and UK. Our students have the opportunity to experience yet one more system of healthcare delivery in a hospital setting while at the same time providing Grenada with an influx of much-needed healthcare practitioners to local healthcare facilities.”

The government too recognizes the significance of this agreement as demonstrated by a statement earlier this year when discussions were being held, Finance Minister Nazim Burke said “…the establishment of a teaching hospital in Grenada would help to raise the standard and quality of healthcare for citizens at home, citizens abroad desirous of returning home to retire, as well as our visitors.”

Undoubtedly, the development of a graduate and post graduate teaching program at the General Hospital is a significant investment by the University and will contribute to an improved standard and quality of healthcare available on the island. The University has, for over 35 years developed ane extensive scholarship program for the educational benefit of citizens of Grenada and other Commonwealth countries. The formation of the clinical teaching program will be of great benefit to the island and the region as well.