The Parkland College Blog

Language Class to Transition Immigrants into Health Careers

New ECNA students to grasp nuances in patient symptom descriptions, medical language

Patients often say they have to go to the toilet using terms a nonnative English-speaking caregiver might not recognize. But locally, one Parkland College professor is helping new English learners grasp the nuances of medical language in a free class debuting this fall.
 
"An 85-year-old may say one thing for urination; a five-year-old will say another," explained Christina Havenland, who leads the new English for Certified Nursing Assistants class being offered through Parkland's Adult Education department. "A tough old military vet may use another, less polite, word, while a church secretary may have yet another very euphemistic word! An immigrant CNA needs to know the whole range of language they would encounter on the job."
 
Language comprehension is even more crucial when discussing symptoms, added Havenland, a Humanities associate professor who teaches reading. For example, nearly 80 phrases can be used to describe pain, phrases one might find on the McGill University Pain Questionnaire.
 
"If a patient says she feels a 'nagging tenderness,' a medical professional without sufficient language training could misunderstand either the relatively rare word "nagging," or could misunderstand "tenderness" as being a positive emotion instead of a type of physical soreness," she said.
 
Funded through a federal English language education grant and the Illinois Community College Board, the ECNA course has been designed to smooth the path for English language learners desiring to enter the healthcare profession. Enrollees receive 96 hours of training in the culture and language skills they need for success in Parkland's regular Certified Nursing Assistant course. Once they attain their industry-recognized credential, students can then work in the community as a CNA while pursuing other careers.
 
Havenland said the program also helps combat the nationwide shortage of certified nursing assistants by allowing immigrants to more quickly practice medical skills they may already have acquired in their home countries.
 
"Some of these adult learners are already professionals with degrees and credentials in their native countries," she said. "Completing the regular CNA course serves as an entry point for them to pursue more advanced nursing credentials offered by Parkland, such as our Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) and Registered Nursing (RN) degrees."
 
For more information on the ECNA program, contact Parkland College Adult Education at 217/351-2580.
 
In Fiscal Year 2019 (FY '19), approximately 40% ($161,595) of the total cost of the Parkland College Adult Education and Family Literacy Program is provided through federal funds under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

New Show, Digital System to Debut in Planetarium Opener

"Experience the Aurora" to feature dramatic fulldome images from new Digistar 6

After a month's closure, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium will reopen to public audiences on the Sept. 7-8 weekend with a new operating system and a new fulldome show.

"Experience the Aurora," featuring fulldome, time-lapse imagery of the Northern Lights, will premiere Sept. 7 and 8 at 8 p.m. and run every Friday and Saturday night through October. The show will be presented on Staerkel's Digistar 6 operating system, an upgrade from the Digistar 4 system installed eight years ago. The planetarium has been closed since Aug. 8 to install the new system. 

Winner of two Telly Awards for video production,"Experience the Aurora" shares the science behind the aurora and tells the story of the quest to find and photograph the aurora. Its dramatic images involve high-resolution digital cameras outfitted with fisheye lenses. For the first time, the aurora has been captured as it was meant to be experienced, an immersive display covering the entire sky, according to Dave Leake, director of the planetarium.  

"Though computer visualizations are quite wonderful these days, we were intrigued that this show includes fisheye photography of this beautiful phenomenon," Leake remarked. "We hope audiences will be as amazed as we were!"

Leake explained that the Digistar 6 system contains new features that will be both visible and "under the hood." Tools such as auto-align and auto-blend will drastically reduce maintenance time by aligning projectors with the push of a button. Other D6 benefits for planetarium staff include a cloud-sourced STEAM library, a new NOAA Earth database, and a revised user interface. Audiences will be able to view various terrains including Earth and Mars as well as a volumetric Milky Way (i.e., shown more as a physical model than as a flat image).  

“We have a lot to learn before we reopen; our show producer, Waylena McCully, is busy converting many of our older shows to the new format," Leake said. "We're exited about having a new star field and other features to show off this season.”  

Funding for the upgrade comes from the Parkland Foundation, the Planetarium Revolving Fund and the Campus Master Plan. For a full schedule of fall 2018 planetarium programs, visit parkland.edu/planetarium or call the show hotline at 217/351-2446. 

Diverse Students Win Faculty-Created Writer's Competition

Students win Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each

Four Parkland College students recently earned prizes in an annual writing competition created by a retired faculty member.
 
Winning Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each for their essays were Kennedy Coffie of Chicago for "Mastering Language"; Sami Issa of Syria for "Moving Up the Ladder"; Kaitlyn Marsh of Weldon, Illinois, for "A Necessary Evil"; and Elie Ngandu of the Republic of Congo for "America's Immigrant Dream."
 
Parkland English Professor Seth Mendelowitz, who serves as coordinator for the contest, said the competition usually awards one or two winners each year but that this year was special due to the strength and diversity of the submissions.
 
"Our winners ranged from a student temporarily living here during conflicts in his home country to a student from a small town in rural Illinois," he said. "Given evidence of excessive time spent by young people with more clipped forms of communication (via social media), and given the resultant widespread concern that most young people are not developing their reading and writing skills, it is exciting that we have had such a strong pool of submissions this year."
 
In fall 2011, to foster students' interests in writing, McDonald, a former composition instructor at Parkland, began awarding essays that display a strong sense of voice and unique perspective, written with precise word choice, clear organization, and grammatical and mechanical correctness.
 
According to the contest website, judges look for essays that "connect the writer's experiences, insights, and observations to larger ongoing conversations about the world—about politics, philosophy, science, media, justice, family, race, happiness, the environment, or some other important component of our culture and/or world." Mendelowitz said this year's judges regretted not awarding several other submissions that also displayed originality, interesting life experiences, and clear writing.
 
Students taking a Humanities department course may submit essays for the McDonald Writer's Challenge. Faculty judges select a winner near the end of May. Besides a cash award, the winning essay is also published on SPARK, Parkland's online academic repository. SPARK now includes the new winning essays:

  • Mastering Language: Coffie’s essay offers thoughtful reflections on her journeys between different English language communities, demonstrating how our way of speaking can tie us to a community and sense of communal identity, while shutting us off from other communities and identities. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/8/
  • Moving Up the Ladder: Having made the U.S. his temporary home due to civil war in Syria, Issa details his fears and confusions at his job due to his rudimentary English skills as well as the strategies he employed to overcome his fears and improve his speaking and comprehension. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/7/
  • A Necessary Evil: In this well-researched essay, Kaitlyn Marsh offers a balanced analysis of the effects of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illnesses (DSM), which has promoted humane and consistent treatment of people with mental illness, while also enabling "big pharma" to generate a dramatic increase in the numbers of Americans being diagnosed with and medicated for mental illness.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/6/
  • America's Immigrant Dream: An immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ngandu acknowledges sympathy for Americans who come from a line of long-oppressed forebearers while describing the contrasting perception and experience of many immigrants, including himself, for whom the U.S. is a land of opportunity.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/5/

Teens from our popular Land Surveying and Mapping with Technology camp were treated to a visit from some surveying tech gurus and engineers from St. Louis mid-June. And there were drones involved.

Todd Horton, instructor of the camp and program manager for Parkland’s Construction Management Programs, arranged to have Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. teach campers in the classroom and provide hands-on training outdoors on a perfect summer day near the gymnasium.

“We need to raise awareness in land surveying, and these guys are great at it,” he said.”

“These guys” were Derek Twente, Andrew Joost, and Josh Hoffmann, who taught the teens about telegrammetry and LiDAR imaging—cutting-edge technologies in the field of surveying and mapping.

“We work with GIS, surveying crews, civil engineers, and many, many more groups of people,” said Joost, a geospatial data manager who has worked in the field ten years. “There are many people involved.”

After spending some time in the classroom, the campers headed outside and received some hands-on instruction with a drone. Hoffmann, a geospatial construction services manager, held a captive audience as he put his drone on autopilot. It lifted into the air as he explained to students that the drone would take a series of 31 pictures at 250 feet, moving in a grid-like pattern. The resulting images would provide ortho-image data and plot points.

“It’s amazing technology,” he said. “When I show these kids the detail afterward, they’re going to be blown away.”

The trip up from St. Louis was an investment for these engineers. “Most kids out there don’t really know anything about what they can do in this field,” said Twente, who is also the president-elect of the Illinois Professional Land Surveyor’s Association. “I know of only one other camp in Illinois that does this.” He was referring to Todd Horton’s intensive surveying and mapping camp, which puts equipment in the hands of teens and shows them a potential future in surveying. The job market is booming, but there is a lack of awareness of what the industry entails and how to get in it.

With the advent of new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) and the increased capabilities of cameras, imagery, and software, surveying has exploded into new methods of discovery and accessibility. The equipment can be fun, the work takes place indoors and outdoors, and the pay can be pretty good. The catch?

“Kids just don’t know about this stuff,” Horton said.

Except for these kids. They’re right in the middle of the fun, thanks to Horton and the engineers from Thoutvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. They’ve gotten a leg-up on their peers when it comes to future job opportunities, and they got to do it in a fun summer camp.

Did your teens miss the camp? No problem! There are other ways to get involved. Here are some other opportunities:

  • For internships and inquiries, contact Derek Twente, Geospatial Services Manager, at 618/624-4488, or email dtwente@twm-inc.com.
  • For UAS/Drone classes, FAA licenses, and using mapping software, contact Parkland College Business Training & Community Education, at 217/351-2235, or register online at www.parkland.edu/btceRegister

For more information on surveying and mapping, future camps, and similar opportunities, email Todd Horton at thorton@parkland.edu.

State Universities Transfer Day

IL state university reps will be on hand to answer questions, April 4

University representatives from across Illinois will be on hand to answer students' transfer and enrollment questions during the 2018 spring State University Transfer Day, set for Wednesday, April 4, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the college's Student Union. 
  
Representatives from the following colleges will be attending the State University Transfer Day:
 
Chicago State University
Eastern Illinois University
Governors State University 
Illinois State University
Northeastern Illinois University 
Northern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois Chicago 
University of Illinois Springfield
Western Illinois University
 
This free event is sponsored by Parkland College Counseling Services. For more information, contact the center at 217/351-2461. 

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