Are there honors/achievements/special recognition you would like to list that are not included above?
I once risked my life and later received an award for saving the life of a vulnerable elderly person who was suffering from abuse at the hands of his caretaker. When I found the man, he was being held in a locked room with no ventilation or fresh water, and he was covered with lice. He obviously was not being fed very well and had little contact with the outside world. Later, it was my pleasure to see this man live in a healthy environment. I also had the pleasure of testifying on his behalf in court in a hearing against his caretaker.
What led you to your area of study/field of interest?
I became interested in pursuing behavioral gerontology after accepting an offer to work for AARP 15 years ago. Throughout my college career, my goal was to work with emotionally disturbed children. I found that I enjoyed working with older people much more.
What honor, achievement or accomplishment is most meaningful to you? Why?
I had the privilege of becoming a Surrogate Parent and then later the Court Appointed Mental Retardation Advocate for an eight year-old girl who had multiple disabilities. I represented her needs as though they were my own and was later recognized by the Court with an award for my advocacy efforts. The award was meaningful to me because I could see where I had made a meaningful difference in a little girl's life.
Who has been influential or had a significant impact on your life? Please elaborate. (Please include individuals at KU as appropriate.)
Throughout my academic career, my life has been impacted by the talents and expertise of several formal and informal mentors, including Dr. Curtis Banks (former advisor), Dr. Albert Roberts, Dr. Mark Mathews (former advisor), and Dr. Stephen Fawcett. They have all made contributions to my growth in a variety of ways and I have gained invaluable experiences from my associations with each of them.
I am now very fortunate to be the junior colleague of Dr. Ed Morris. I am pleased to have him as my advisor because he insists on excellence. As a nontraditional student, I have a very clear understanding of and a deep appreciation for why he challenges me to engage in critical thinking. His guidance has not only impacted me as a graduate student, it has also rippled into other areas of my life in ways that encourage me to explore alternative and environmental explanations for behavior.
Why do you believe it is important to recognize women for their accomplishments?
Generally speaking, it is important to honor women because of the phenomenal contributions we make to the global community. I also think that as women, it is very important for us to honor ourselves. We are strengthened by reminding ourselves of our worth to our friends, family, colleagues and associates.
What is a most favorite/least favorite memory as a student?
A most favorite memory for me occurred when a research intervention I employed made a difference in the lives of individuals with diabetes. One person who was a self described “couch potato” became active and starting taking charge of his healthcare. Another person decided to change his diet, resulting in an elimination of insulin from his medication regimen. Another person decided to modify her living environment so that she could prolong her life.
What is your definition of success?
Success is something that each person must define. For me, the definition of success is very fluid. It is basically the summary of what I want or push myself to accomplish compared to my evaluation of what I actually accomplish.