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Faculty Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

Faculty Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

Why Columbus State?

ThomasJoy Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, & Exercise Science. We interviewed
her to find out why she chose Columbus State University.

1. Tell us about your research.
For the past four years at CSU, I've had the opportunity to conduct research on the social determinants of health that lead to inequity
in health outcomes.  These social determinants of health include socio-economic status, housing status, culture, disease status,
education level, and access to quality healthcare.  As part of the Health Science program in the HPEX department, we've been fortunate
to create community based participatory research projects that our students can benefit from. The primary focus has been on chronic
disease prevention and improvement of access to quality healthcare. Currently, I am working on a few different projects in the
community alongside wonderful community partners such as Live Healthy Columbus, Columbus Regional Health, Mercer  University,
Bradford Health Services, West Central Georgia Cancer Coalition, New Horizons, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley, Sexual Assault Center, Inc., Pastoral
Institute, Live Healthy in Faith Coalition, Columbus Housing Authority, Breathe Easy Columbus, the West Central Georgia Health District, and others.

Dr. Tara Underwood and I have served as co-investigators on a tobacco coalition project called Breathe Easy Columbus. We serve as the educational resource for
secondhand smoke education, social marketing messages, e-cigarette education, coalition building, and evaluation. We've worked with students to go out into the
community to measure indoor air quality and educate about tobacco harm at events for businesses and other organizations.

Dr. Brad Huff and I are monitoring outcomes from a project with the Columbus Housing Authority called Moving to Work. Students have helped with this research
by gaining hands on experience conducting surveys for residents.

Mr. Rylan Steele, Dr. Christopher McCollough and I have received an Interdisciplinary Grant to conduct a photo-voice research project this spring, which will highlight
youth from our local Boys and Girls Clubs and their helping/hindering health factors around the city. Past research has included tracking outcomes from childhood
obesity projects in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Clubs and Columbus Regional Health, HIV/AIDs interventions in community organizations in collaboration
with New Horizons, and faith/health Community Health Worker collaborations in partnership with Live Healthy in Faith and Live Healthy Columbus.

2. Why did you choose Columbus State University?
On a personal note, my husband is from Columbus, so being near his family remains important to us. Professionally, I chose Columbus State University because the
program I am working in (Health Science) has such potential for growth. The HPEX department is close and collaborative, so it was a great fit for my professional goals.

3. What are the top three reasons you would recommend Columbus State University to prospective students?
  • The value of the education. Students are getting world class instruction at a state tuition rate. This provides a marketable and valuable education base for their
    future careers.
  • Opportunities for students to get involved. I am the advisor for the BACCHUS peer health educators and a co-advisor for the Eta Sigma Gamma Honor Society
    and in working with these groups I've been able to connect with many other great organizations on campus. No matter what a students' personality,
    there's a group for that!
  • The location. Columbus is a great city with a diversity of cultural, entertainment, and educational offerings without the traffic of Atlanta!
4. Tell us about a favorite teaching moment at CSU.
One of my favorite teaching moments at CSU, so far, happened outside of the classroom. I taught a tough grant writing course in the Fall of 2013. The students were
often   frustrated at the world of grant writing and the language each specific grant required, etc. One student in particular, had a really tough time. She had a passion,
however, for pregnant teen services. She wrote a wonderful grant for the organization, but it was not funded that grant cycle. Later, at the local Target, I caught up
with this student (who had since graduated). She stopped me to say that the skills she learned n grant writing help her get a job with teens and she had a successful
grant submission the following year. Evidence of these long term learning outcomes makes it easier to dive into difficult content in the classroom. Knowing that our
alumni make a real-world impact on solving problems in the community makes this the most rewarding career imaginable.