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Standing up for health communication

Standing up for health communication

Danielle Damon ’18 April 25, 2019

During the 29th annual Brother Joseph W. Stander Symposium, over 1,700 students and faculty mentors stood up to present research, creative endeavors and academic achievements.

Stander presentations can take many formats from porch projects to poster sessions to performances, and can cover any topic under the end of semester sun.

For graduate students in LeeAnn Sangalang’s Health Campaigns course, projects required students to gather research from individuals at UD or the surrounding area on a health or safety topic of their choice. At the end of the project, students proposed a campaign that is rooted in their findings.

A handful of these semester-long projects found their way into being consolidated into 48-by-36 inch posters and PowerPoint slide decks for Stander.

Emma VenetisCommunication graduate student Emma Venetis used the course project to expand her research interest in the field of sexual health.

“I believe that having access to sexual health knowledge and healthcare is vital for ensuring the health, safety and autonomy of young people,” Venetis said.

In her research, Venetis found female Catholic students lacked knowledge about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and feared the social judgement that may be associated with getting tested.

Venetis then turned these findings into recommendations for the University community by proposing a transmedia campaign that includes posters, a short STI module for incoming freshman, and a signable poster that reads ‘I support STI testing.’

Sam Rita and Lauren Vanderhorst, also communication graduate students, focused their project on the safety sector of health communication with a study titled: “Public Safety in the South Student Neighborhood.”

As a fellow on campus, Vanderhorst wanted to do a project that would benefit her residents.

“I have been invested in the safety and well-being of my residents over the past two years,” Vanderhorst said. “I wanted to find what the underlying problems were on campus that cause crime or problems with public safety.”

Results of their survey revealed that although students feel confident in their ability to call public safety for help, they see their peers and the negative consequences that may come with reporting as a barrier.

To address these findings, Vandershort and Rita proposed an interpersonal campaign that partners with Greek Life and Public Safety.

“It would entail hosting a tailgate/party or afternoon with Public Safety to foster a safe drinking environment,” Vanderhorst said. “And it will allow for students to ask Public Safety the questions they have been wondering.”