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Students Participate in ARC Symposium

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Six University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Bachelor of Science in Nursing students presented research at the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Appalachian Teaching Project Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

The students presented the findings of a three-year study to better understand factors influencing vaccine access in the Bradford area.

Through grants from the Appalachian Teaching Project, students have worked in partnership with the McKean County Collaborative Board and Dr. Jill Owens to study immunizations available in the community and interviewed subjects to find out about the barriers to vaccination.

Students also cataloged current resources and developed strategies for community and provider education.

For each of the past three years, upper-class nursing students have worked on the project and presented results to the community, Penn-York Undergraduate Research Conference and at the Appalachian Teaching Project conference.

“This project opened my eyes to the interconnectedness of the many communities that exist within the Appalachian region,” said Ingrid Bates of Lakeville. “Despite the vast differences between these areas, the needs and issues of the communities remained the same.”

Dr. Lisa Fiorentino and Dr. Tammy Haley, associate professor of nursing, direct the project.

The Appalachian Teaching Project is an applied-research training program for college and graduate students to design community based economic development initiatives across the Appalachian Region as part of a school-based curriculum.

Senior Jefferson Stehle of Port Allegany said, “This project connected us not only more to each other but also connected us to a whole new (Appalachian) community, which was awesome!”

In partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, schools participating in the project offer a directed seminar guiding students in developing and executing field-based research projects specific to the needs of their surrounding communities and in alignment with ARC’s current Strategic Plan.

As a capstone to this work, students and their faculty sponsors travel to the conference to present their work to other student delegations from ATP participating institutions, ARC leadership, and community leaders in a formal peer-to-peer symposium.

Pitt-Bradford was one of 15 colleges and universities presenting from 11 Appalachian states.

Nicole Nolte of Smethport said, “Throughout this project, I was able to work with my classmates, the community and professors to help make a meaningful impact on the Bradford Community.”

Other students presenting were Brittany Jamison, Payton Llewellyn and Laura Tingley, all of Bradford.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a regional economic development partnership of federal and state governments across 420 counties in 13 Appalachian states. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.

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