A Pair of Professors Breathe New Life into Communications Program

Drs. Amanda McClain and Janice Xu - Holy Family University Communications ProgramAfter Dr. Amanda McClain came on board as a faculty member in the communications department at Holy Family University in 2011, she was quickly assigned a large task. Dr. Michael Markowitz, then the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, asked McClain to bring the program into the 21st century, including a complete overhaul, redesign, and update of the current technology and course offerings.

McClain, a modern pop culture junkie, is the author of two books focusing on today’s pop culture landscape: American Ideal: How American Idol Constructs Celebrity, Collective Identity, andAmerican Discourses and Keeping Up the Kardashian Brand: Celebrity, Materialism, and Sexuality. With a strong idea about what is currently trending in today’s society, McClain began to reshape the program from the ground up, including adding or altering 10 courses and bringing in new technology to keep the University competitive with other top programs.

Working alongside with Dr. Janice Xu, an expert in crisis communication, public relations, and the Chinese media industry, the pair have since added two additional courses and are continually thinking of ways to keep the program fresh.

“The field of communications is continually evolving in technology and social media,” McClain said. “We want our curriculum to reflect industry practices and to reflect what is actually happening in the media. That allows our students to get jobs in the field. Dr. Xu and I both really strive to stay abreast of contemporary popular culture and technology news. We’re constantly consuming news—not just mainstream press news, but technology news, media news, and academic news. When you’re an expert in the field, you’re so interested and passionate about it that you can’t help but stay abreast.”

To bring students the most up-to-date communications knowledge, McClain and Xu also proposed the University’s new social media minor, which is also becoming a certificate program. In this minor, students are taught the fundamentals of social media, building an online audience, and using the platforms in a professional setting. The response to the program has been immense.

“The new social media minor attracted a lot of students,” Xu said. “Even before the minor passed, students were asking how they could enroll and become involved. This not only reflects the trend of the industry, but also reflects our effort to accommodate the skill sets that our students have, because some of them are experienced in using social media.”

McClain agreed, adding that knowledge of social media is not only expected, but required when entering the communications field now.

“We wanted to reflect the contemporary media landscape,” McClain said. “This allows students that are graduating to say that they have experience in social media. It is a new area of job growth. Every company, every non-profit, every government organization has at least one social media manager. For our graduates to be able to say that they have experience in this field and that they can help cultivate and run these profiles, it gives them an edge in the job market.”

Xu explained that students go into the social media classes with the notion that only a couple of platforms are useful, that everyone uses it the same way. However, she added, that it is those who learn how to use it effectively are the ones who will succeed in this booming industry.

“In the beginning, they believe that everyone is posting the same stuff about their animals, their vacations, and their family gatherings,” Xu said. “What this minor is teaching them is how to expand and use the medium professionally—how journalists and marketing professionals use social media in their day-to-day lives.”

Whether it was new equipment in the television studio, cutting edge programs in design and video production, or the use of iPads in the classroom, both McClain and Xu believe that keeping students current on today’s trends are what will help them succeed after graduating from Holy Family University.

“I believe in experiential learning,” McClain said. “I believe in taking what is happening outside of the classroom and bringing it in. For example, my Digital Media class lets everyone borrow an iPad for the semester. That’s what people are doing outside of class. They’re using Twitter and using iPads. In the class, students are encouraged to live tweet the class and have a back channel of conversation about course topics. In Law and Media Ethics, every student brings in a relevant current events article. The law, especially media law, is never stagnant. To see how what we are learning in class resonates outside of the classroom is very important.”

The communications capstone course, Multi-Media Storytelling, has also been revamped to provide students with a way to tell a full-fledged digital story.

“The students put together digital photography skills, audio skills such as podcasting, writing skills, and video skills,” McClain said. “They then create one big project where they learn how to tell a multimedia story. This is more then just journalism because you’re putting together all of these moving parts and making decisions for how to tell this story. Having a finished product like this at the end of their college career can really help students showcase what they can do.”

The change in the program has paid dividends for the students.

“The semester long project that were working on is a great learning tool,” Rachel McAnany, a senior Communications major in the Public Relations track, said. “This class and project will teach me not only how to tell a story through my writing, but also visually. We live in a digital world where multiple media elements must be combined in order to keep the reader's interest. The capstone taught me how to combine these elements in a thoughtful and compelling way.”

Students are also able to participate in a number of communications clubs on campus, including the TV Club, the student newspaper, and the Public Relations Student Society of America. Drs. McClain and Xu are the faculty advisors for all of these programs. Another form of first-hand experience comes with the program’s mandated and acclaimed internship program. Previous students have interned at the Bucks County Courier Times, NBC 10, Q 102 FM, The Fan 97.5, and the Philadelphia Flyers.

“The students do internships and know what is going on in the communications field by participating in daily operations of the media,” Xu said. “They are with radio and television stations, professional sports teams, and they bring the latest activities back to the classroom. They discuss what is going on in the industry.”

With a revitalized course offering and a fresh communications philosophy in the classroom, McClain and Xu are ready to offer Holy Family University students the most comprehensive communications experience.

“As instructors, what we can do is find or help create opportunities for them, where we can bring out their talent and engage them with people in the professional field,” Xu said. “Holy Family University has strengths that other colleges in the regions do not have. As Holy Family students in the communication major, students will proudly say that they are confident, competent, and capable of producing high-quality content for the profession and for the society.”


Stokes-DuPass Discusses Citizenship, Belonging, and Nationalism During Art Gallery Panel


Nicole Stokes-DuPassNot long ago, hopeful presidential candidates debated about citizenship, immigration, assimilation, and belonging. With stark and controversial opinions, the topics grew to national news.

Dr. Nicole Stokes-DuPass is a sociologist who specializes in state and international migration, citizenship, and social integration. She also co-authored Citizenship, Belonging, and Nation-States in the Twenty-First Century, the topic of the Art Gallery panel discussion on February 23. Stokes-DuPass sat down with Holy Family University to discuss her new book, immigration in the media, and what it means to be a citizen.

HFU: The February Art Gallery revolves around the title “Nationalism: Belonging/Not Belonging.” What resonates with you when you hear that title?

NSD: “Our book, Citizenship, Belonging and Nation-States in the Twenty-First Century, talks about the role of Nation-States, and specifically countries as governments who determine or create the conditions for belonging and not belonging. It is going to be really interesting to see how the artists interpret that. Think about anybody who has ever traveled to another country. Once you get in that country, there is usually an immediate feeling of belonging or not belonging, feeling welcomed or not welcomed. The book talks about policies that are enacted by governments to make migrants feel as if they belong to that new society or if they are excluded from that society.”

HFU: Looking specifically at the United States and the idea of belonging or not belonging, is that something that you believe as a country we excel in, have room to grow, or is something that is continually evolving and you never get to the greatest level of acceptance?

NSD: “I think it is all of the above. The United States has one of the most open citizenship policies in the world. We are one of the few countries that have a citizenship law that says if you were born on the soil in the United States, you are automatically a citizen. That is very unusual compared to the rest of the world. With that said, there is a chapter in the book on the United States that talks about some of our challenges, specifically about migrants coming in and citizenship being granted to those deemed ‘most deserving’ and in ‘good moral character.’ There have been points where we have limited who can come in. A lot of that is shaped by whatever geopolitical events are happening. If you look at our own history with Mexican immigration, we have had a push-pull relationship, where we have had a labor need and invited Mexican migrants over the border. Then, when we have a robust economy, we kind of say ‘ok, get back out.’ In some of our policies there is room for improvement. The one game-changer today is that the world is focused specifically on Muslim immigrants who practice Islam. The focus is on coupling immigration with national security, which has a new appeal, particularly in the U.S. and Western Europe, in the post-9/11 era.”

HFU: A lot of our would-be presidential candidates have talked about immigration, making controversial statements that ultimately made the topic a hot-button issue. What are your views about how immigration law is portrayed in the media?

NSD: “The topic is being displayed in a very polarizing way. All of these policies could work in varying degrees. Building a wall to block the border is not practical. I do think we have to couple national security interests with labor interests. One of the things, especially in the western world that we are dealing with, is that we have an aging population—a graying of America. Our population is aging and people are having fewer children and a number of our social and pension systems are reliant on young people paying into the system to support those who are pensioners. This is true for the United States and most of Western Europe. Immigration can address some of that because most of the people who are migrating come from cultures that marry younger and tend to have more children. Another piece of the puzzle is globalization and labor. Manufacturing in this country has declined significantly. There are certain countries that could be nice ‘sending countries’ for certain occupations. A lot of our nurses come from the Philippines. We have had immigration visa policies that are specific to group needs. We have also done this with India when we need doctors and physicians on work-approved visas.”

HFU: The panel discussion on February 23 is about your new book, Citizenship, Belonging and Nation-States in the Twenty-First Century. Can you tell me more about the book and some of its major themes?

NSD: “Political scientists and sociologists are the two main groups who have focused on citizenship studies. Political scientists have always focused on what citizenship can do—the conveyance of right, duties, and obligations. Sociologists have typically focused on access to citizenship, the assimilation process, and issues of discrimination associated with citizenship status. The book says that it is all of those things, and the one entity that controls all of them is the nation-state. Both disciplines have forgotten Nation-States in that conversation. They have moved towards this idea that Nation-States aren’t as important because we have all of these new actors, the European Union, and non-governmental organizations that now have transcended the Nation-State. We argue that the Nation-State is still the primary actor that controls all of the conditions associated with belonging or not belonging. Each chapter of the book is taking that conversation and to a different part of the world and looking at how the Nation-State in Syria, Qatar, and the Netherlands function.”

HFU: To someone who has never heard of the term, how do you define what a Nation-State is?

NSD: “This is where a political scientist would say that the nation is specifically defined as the government. The state is the government coupled with institutions that can make laws—an organized political community. When you put the concepts together, it shows that it is not just a form of government, but it is also a system of institutions that can enact policy and that can, and usually is, considered a form of identity.”

HFU: One of the major themes throughout your book deals with citizenship. In this day and age, how do you define citizenship?

NSD: “Citizenship is a status, and we stick with a very traditional definition in the book. It is a status and form of identity that is conveyed by the Nation-State. The status is important because it gives you legitimacy within that society. The best example is Puerto Rico. Puerto Ricans are American citizens. They have a very different form of citizenship than those who are born on the main land, but because they are a Spanish-speaking demographic, we tend to lump them in as an immigrant population. Puerto Rican citizenship is a great example because their Governor sits in Congress but has no voting rights. Residents of Puerto Rico have no voting representation in Congress, they have no electoral vote in presidential elections, but they participate in national service, meaning they can be drafted into the army. It is a strange form of U.S. citizenship and both exists in our present-day U.S. society.”


Criminal Justice Instructor Writing and Talking About Role of Police Officers at Schools

Beth SanbornIt’s been a busy few weeks for Officer Beth Sanborn, an adjunct faculty member at Holy Family University and a Police Officer for the Lower Gwynedd Township Police Department.

Teaching courses in Criminal Justice at Holy Family, Sanborn was recently published in the February issue of American Police Beat, a monthly law enforcement magazine tailored specifically to those in the profession.

Sanborn’s article focused on the role of School Resource Officers (SRO) in today’s public school system.

“The article was about School Resource Officers and our different responsibilities,” Sanborn said. “As a uniformed police officer in a public school setting, parents and student alike are sometimes wary and unsure of my presence. It didn't take long for them to realize that I was there as a resource, a trusted adult—not a disciplinarian. I have three roles that make up being an SRO. I am a police officer, there to prevent violence and crime; I am a counselor when students come to me with concerns; and I am a teacher who can provide information on the law, crime prevention, and crime detection.”

Though this is her first time being published in American Police Beat, Sanborn has also been published in Law and Order Magazine, The North Penn Reporter, Ambler Gazette, and has an article waiting to be published by Law Officer Magazine.

Sanborn isn’t just writing about these topics, either. She recently spoke at Tiferes B'Nai Israel Synagogue in Warrington about the responsibilities and benefits of a uniformed police officer in public schools, especially after the rash of incidents that have happened in schools in the past 15 years.

“I think having uniformed officers in our schools is a wonderful idea,” she said. “The reality is that officers who work with juveniles explore a tremendous number of avenues to divert them from the criminal justice system. Arrests come as a last resort. We work tirelessly to help kids make good choices on their own—to become productive adults. We mentor, guide, divert, and come up with alternatives to arrest as best as we can. By building relationships over time, we establish ourselves as trusted adults and not as someone who should be feared. SRO's invest themselves in their communities.”

Alternative Spring Break Sends Students to Oklahoma City With Habitat for Humanity

Holy Family University Habitat for Humanity - Alternative Spring BreakFor the 10th year in a row, Holy Family University students looking for a twist on the traditional spring break experience will travel to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to participate in a Habitat for Humanity building event.

From March 6–13, students and chaperones will help construct homes for a new development, Legacy Estates, in Oklahoma City. The homes are built to help individuals struggling with poverty in the surrounding area.

“This isn’t a handout,” Mike McNulty-Bobholz, Assistant Vice President for Student Life said. “It is a way to get out of poverty. Habitat for Humanity helps with home ownership and with the mortgage.”

Chaperones and students alike are responsible for fundraising the entire trip, with a goal of $20,000 being set at the beginning of the year. Through campus-wide events like Pizza and Pins, Bingo, and letter writing campaigns, the group has raised roughly half of that number.

During their weeklong trip, HFU students will attempt to build a complete home, but every building site brings its own set of challenges and goals.

“In Washington, we started with just a concrete slab,” McNulty-Bobholz said. “By the end of the week, we had all the rooms framed, the outside walls framed, and the framing for the roof was being placed. Did we build a whole house? No—but we do get far. In Texas, we had to do a lot of rehab. We cleaned out yards, as well as a house that was infested with roaches. Every year is a different story. On top of this, we also work with Philadelphia. On Friday, February 12, we are doing a day of service with the Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia branch and on February 20, we will be working with the Bucks County Habitat for Humanity.”

Throughout the years, the trip has been a way for students to learn and grow outside of the classroom.

“This is a life-changing experience,” McNulty-Bobholz said. “Every student that has gone has said that once it is done, they have been changed in some way. Some see how lucky they are to have the possessions they live with every day.”

One of the reasons students are drawn to the Alternative Spring Break program year after year is two-fold. The trip provides students with an alternative way of learning and growing, while at the same time, providing richer meaning to the Core Values of Holy Family University.

“This program is the flesh and bones of our Core Values at Holy Family University,” McNulty-Bobholz said. “It has Family, where we become a very united group throughout the journey. It is the 24 of us working and building together, and not always being happy with one another, but getting through the challenge while still having Respect for each other. There is Integrity—every site we go to, the last thing we hear is ‘I hope you guys can come back because you were really hard workers.’ There is Vision—the students see the vision of having no money for the trip, and turning that into the $20,000 needed to go and support future trips. Then Learning—a lot of the students have never flown before, never left their parents before. A lot of them never used a power tool of any kind. Finally, the trip itself is about Service and showing Responsibility for your fellow man. There are great growth stories of students who once they go on this trip, come back as a new person.”

Individuals wishing to help support the student’s trip to Oklahoma are encouraged to email Mike McNulty-Bobholz directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Lions, Tigers, and Bears—Oh My!

rp primary TOY DRIVEHoly Family University (Tigers) in conjunction with Bloomfield College (Bears) and Georgian Court University (Lions) will be hosting toy drives during the month of February to collect stuffed animals. Each school will then donate the stuffed animals to their local children's hospitals.
Holy Family will be donating its stuffed animals to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
During the men's and women's basketball doubleheader on Wednesday, Feb. 17 versus Chestnut Hill College, anyone who brings a stuffed animal to be donated will receive free admission. 
General admission that night will be $5 with all proceeds going towards the stuffed animal toy drive and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Holy Family students, faculty and staff with valid university ID will be admitted free. In addition, those that would like to purchase a stuffed animal at the game can donate $2 and will be able to take part in an in-game event.  
During a particular point in each game, fans will be allowed to toss the donated stuffed animal onto the court. Athletics staff will then collect the stuffed animals off the court so the game could resume.  
For more information on the stuffed animal toy drive please contact Tim Hamill, Special Events Coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The original article publicizing this event can be accessed by clicking here, or by visiting Holy Family University Athletics.

February Art Gallery - Nationalism: Belonging/Not Belonging

February 2016 Art Gallery - Nationalism: Belonging/Not BelongingHoly Family University Art Gallery Presents Nationalism: Belonging/Not Belonging

Exhibit Dates: February 9 - March 1, 2016

Panel Discussion: February 23, 2016 3-4 pm in the ETC Lobby followed by an artist reception from 4-6 pm in the Art Gallery.

On Tuesday, February 23, Holy Family University will host a panel discussion titled Citizenship, Belonging and Nation-States in the 21st Century, in conjunction with its February Art Gallery event, Nationalism: Belonging/Not Belonging.

Eleven artists from across the United States will be exhibiting works that address the topic of Nationalism: Belonging /Not Belonging.

Exhibiting Artists: Kristen Miologos, Lidia C. Hasenauer, Gail Morrison-Hall, Stephen Marc, Robert Fields, Howard Hao Tran, Robert Knight, Calcagno Cullen, Howard Skrill, Pamela Flynn, and George Masry Isaac.

Panel Discussion: Citizenship, Belonging and Nation-States in the 21st Century. Editors Nicole Stokes-DuPass and Ramona Fruja will lead a panel discussion about the major themes of the book. Specifically, they will articulate why nation-states still matter in citizenship studies. The authors assert that nation-states continue to hold the unique capacity to determine who has the right to have rights. They also plan to discuss how states actively shape the assimilation outcomes and experiences of belonging among the populations who reside within its borders.

Nicole Stokes-DuPass, Associate Dean for School of Arts and Sciences/Associate Professor of Sociology, Holy Family University

Stokes-DuPass is a political sociologist and an accomplished educator with over 15 years of experience and expertise in teaching diverse student populations. Stokes-DuPass’ research focuses on the state, international migration, citizenship, social integration and Scandinavian and European studies. Her recent book, Integration and New Limits on Citizenship Rights: Denmark and Beyond (2015) is published with Palgrave-MacMillan.

Stokes-DuPass previously served as a U.S. Fulbright Fellow at Roskilde University and Guest Researcher at the Danish Institute for Social Research in Copenhagen, Denmark from 2000-2001 and in 2008. She has also previously served as a Dissertation Fellow for the American-Scandinavian Foundation to Denmark in 2008 and has also conducted research abroad in Russia, Germany and Cuba.

Ramona Fruja, Assistant Professor of Education, Bucknell University

Fruja has a dual doctoral degree in Sociology and Education and teaches courses on immigration, social contexts of schooling, and multicultural education. Her research is interdisciplinary and examines the intersections among immigration and identity, focusing on educational contexts and citizenship, particularly immigrants' experiences with education and citizenship in their multiple forms. She has presented her work at professional conferences internationally and has published in Globalizations; The International Handbook of Migration Studies (Routledge), Immigrants in American History: Arrival, Adaptation and Integration. She is also the co-editor of Social studies and diversity teacher education: What we do and why we do it (Routledge).

The event will take place at Holy Family University’s Education Technology Center (ETC) in the lobby and art gallery. Parking is available to all in the Campus Center parking lot in the visitor section without restriction.

Special Education Professor Brings First Hand Experience into the Classroom

Gerry ArangoGerry Arango didn’t initially intend for her musings on life to evolve into a memoir, but she knew she had something to say. A mother to a son with special needs and a caregiver to her own mother who is battling dementia, Arango’s writing was a cathartic way to deal with challenges she was facing as a mother, daughter, and friend. Now, the author of What Would Nola Do? What My Mother Taught Me about Showing Up, Being Present, and the Art of Caregiving, is combining what she teaches in the classroom with her day-to-day experiences as a caregiver.

Arango sat down with Holy Family University to discuss her classroom philosophy, her journey through writing a book, and her role in the second annual Caregiving Symposium taking place on February 13 at Holy Family University.

HFU: A lot of what you teach focuses on the topic of inclusion. Why are you so dedicated to this concept?

GA: “I started out as a special education teacher. I taught for several years, and then went back to graduate school because I was interested in educational technology. My specific interest was in assistive technology, which is technology that assists individuals with disabilities. When I had my second child, who was born with a disability, I became not just a special education teacher, but also a parent to a child with special needs, and technology became even more of a passion because my son uses assistive technology. When it comes to inclusion, it is really about the support we give to kids with disabilities, in order to enable them to be a part of everyday life, to have a meaningful life. That’s what we strive for and the philosophy behind our program at Holy Family University. Children naturally belong together, and as teachers, we need to be able to facilitate that, as well as get the support needed for these kids and ourselves.”

HFU: Can you tell me more about assistive technology? What type of items would fall under that term?

GA: “All kinds of stuff! Assistive technology really is any item that is used to support people with disabilities in their everyday lives. It can be high-tech devices that enable a person to communicate. It can also be iPad technology, which has been a game changer for individuals in this field. It can also be something as simple as a pencil grip for kids who are having trouble writing. It is the high-tech, mid-tech, low-tech, or no-tech item that can help a person with a disability to be successful.

HFU: How has the topic of inclusion and special education care evolved over the years, and how has that affected the way that you teach?

GA: “It’s funny—when I first came to Holy Family University, inclusion seemed like a much more exotic concept to the students. Now our undergraduate and graduate students have experienced going to school with kids who have disabilities, because that’s what we have been trying to make happen all these years—and it has. Our students can talk about their experiences with special needs individuals as friends and classmates and the type of support they had or didn’t have. Because there is more of a focus on inclusion, our work at Holy Family is about getting our students to understand the history, values, and legalities of why, as teachers, we must support all our learners. Our work is giving them the knowledge, skills, and experiences as well. It is exciting because the more inclusion happens in real life, the more our students can connect to it and continue to foster it. Our graduate students are often in the trenches teaching, and they come back for additional certifications because they know they need all the tools they can get in order to support all of their students most effectively.”

HFU: Your teaching also focuses a lot on caregiving, which was the topic of your book, What Would Nola Do? What My Mother Taught Me about Showing Up, Being Present, and the Art of Caregiving. How has being a 24/7 caregiver influenced your teachings?

GA: “The whole book started out because of circumstances in a three year span of my life. I had a friend who sustained a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. At the same time, my mother was slipping into dementia. As I was trying to support them, I realized I was drawing on many of the things I learned from supporting my son since birth. I started writing to help myself and little by little it was crafted into something that was eventually published. I try to communicate, often through my own child’s stories, that it’s really about trying to help people have a meaningful life and getting them to value the role we can play in supporting one another. Everybody has something they struggle with. If we all recognize what we have in common, it doesn’t have to be so exotic.”

HFU: Can you tell me more about the process of writing and publishing your book? It seemed as if the book was written more as a cathartic experience, with no real intention of having it published in the first place.

GA: “When I started writing, I had a different idea in mind for a book—a little dream—and I just started to write. I didn’t want to self-publish the book. I wanted someone who could read it without my emotional attachment to its words. I had many readers along the way—colleagues, friends, and family—who gave me wonderful suggestions for improvement and lots of encouragement. I went to conferences and read about writing, but I needed a publisher, an agent, someone! I’m a fan of William Stillman, who presents on the topic of autism, and I often check his website for material for my classes. Serendipitously, I was on Bill’s website one day, and it mentioned that he was the Editor-in-Chief of SilverXord Publications. It also said that he was looking for article submissions. I responded and told him I had articles, but he added that I could also send anything book length as well. A light bulb went off in my head, and I sent him what I had—my ‘manuscript.’ A week later, I got a phone call from him, and we had a conversation about the book. Bill was the one who pulled out the title. The phrase, ‘What would Nola do?’ kept coming up in the manuscript. My mother, Nola, even now, is a very charming woman, and she was always wise, funny, large-and-in-charge. Because I am none of those things, I would often repeat that phrase to myself to get confidence! The manuscript went through all the phases of turning into a book, including the design of the cover, by my sister, Gail Anderson, a nationally recognized graphic designer. The tail comb, eyebrow pencil, and little pink roller are on the book jacket as a little representation of our mother. The book will tell you what that’s about, but it’s a loving tribute to Nola, especially the eyebrow pencil. She always joked with us that when she died, if she didn’t have her eyebrows drawn on, she was going to come and haunt us. She was and still is quite a character!”

HFU: Looking towards the Caregiving Symposium on February 13, what are your goals for that event?

GA: “What we tried to do is make the Symposium a combination of things. Caregivers are often very challenged to take time for themselves—I can attest to that. We wanted to make the event a morning that would provide caregivers ways to better support someone, as well as have self-care pieces, where these people who do so much for others can take a morning away and learn how to take care of themselves a little better. You can come get a massage and have a red velvet cupcake because it is Valentine’s Day weekend. As a person who is a working mother, a widow, a caregiver for a young man with a disability, a daughter, and a full-time professor, I know it is hard to take time for yourself. We’re hoping the Symposium can be a little space for learning, relaxation, and being pampered a bit too!”

HFU: Can you tell us how the first Caregiving Symposium came about last year and what you brought away from it?

GA: “What Would Nola Do?” was published in June of 2014. This event was originally going to be celebrated by a book signing, but we realized that caregiving was a much bigger topic than could be held in a book. I worked with the School of Education and the Marketing and Communications Department, and our first Symposium was held in April 2015. It was small, but well received, and we decided to hold another this year because the topic of caregiving is touching so many lives. You either are a caregiver, you will be a caregiver, or you will need a caregiver at some time in your life. Doesn’t that say it all?”

Faculty Presents Research on Blended Learning and Co-Occurrence at Scholar’s Forum

The Spring 2016 Scholar’s Forum will be held on Monday, February 15 at 12:50 pm in the ETC Auditorium. Michael W. Markowitz, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, remarked that the presentations this semester “reflect a diversity of scholarship and research from across the University.”

This year’s presenters include Drs. Roseanna Wright, Maria Agnew and Brian Berry, whose work is titled "Assessing and Meeting the Needs of University Students in Blended Course Learning." Dr. Jan Buzydlowski will also be presenting his work, titled "Co-occurrence Analysis, or Two Authors Walk into a Bar."

Drs. Wright, Agnew, and Berry looked at the use of blended learning—a combination of face-to-face paired with an online component—with individuals with disabilities.

The authors write, “As faculty begin to implement more blended learning options, they need to develop both the awareness of the key principles of on-line learning and the impact this type of learning has on learners with disabilities.”

Because of its growing numbers of diagnoses, the authors specifically looked at individuals who identified as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“Autism is classified as a social learning disability, making a traditional classroom setting potentially socially difficult for a student with ASD,” the authors write. “Beyond identifying support services for students with ASD through disabilities services, it is important to design higher education learning environments to meet the academic and social needs of these students, through a universally designed blended course format.”

Dr. Buzydlowski will examine the use of co-occurrence and its everyday use in our lives.

“I've worked in a few veins of research over the years, one of which was my dissertation research on author co-citation analysis and another is data mining,” Buzydlowski said. “Recently, I realized that most of my research involves the same thing: co-occurrence. I think it is interesting in that when you put on co-occurrence glasses, you see co-occurrences everywhere—things you put in your shopping cart, the books you buy from Amazon, the movies you watch on Netflix, or your Facebook friends. What my talk will focus on is the definition of co-occurrence, and how it can serve as a unifying framework to various methodologies within various fields to analyze ordinary items.”

HFU Instructor Parlays Sports Background into Teaching Opportunity

Ian RiccaboniWhat do you get when you cross a professional wrestling announcer, a Philadelphia Phillies TV personality, an author, and a pharmaceutical rep? If you couldn’t figure it out—you’re probably not alone.

However, the students in the Introduction to Sports Media class are getting all of these things rolled into one, in the form of their professor, Ian Riccaboni. An announcer for the professional wrestling company Ring of Honor, a TV personality for Phillies Nation TV on The Comcast Network, and author of Phillies Nation Presents The 100 Greatest Phillies of All Time, Riccaboni is bringing his sports background to Holy Family University, where he made his teaching debut this semester.

We sat down with Riccaboni as he discusses his sports background and his introduction into the teaching world.

HFU: Where are you originally from?

IR: “I was born and raised in Allentown, PA. My wife Sarah and I have lived in Glenside, PA now for about three years, and we love it. We have the best neighbors, are excited about how our neighborhood is growing, and love being near the Keswick Theater, where some great musicians and comedians perform.”

HFU: What is your educational background?

IR: “I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Media and Communications from New York University and a Master’s of Science in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.”

HFU: Besides teaching, announcing wrestling, and talking about the Phillies, is there anything else you do?

IR: “I am actually involved in Pharmaceutical Access and Reimbursement as a Field Reimbursement Manager. It is an amazingly rewarding job where I am able to connect with doctor’s offices and let them know ways patients are able to afford their treatment regiments. Because of the job, I have been able to travel to places I likely would never have been able to go otherwise like Sioux Falls, SD; Saranac Lake, NY; and my favorite city to visit, Omaha, NE.”

HFU: What made you want to get into teaching and that Holy Family University was where you wanted to do it?

IR: “Brian Michael is an instructor at Holy Family University and we talked a bit about my desire to teach. I always asked him to let me know if an opening popped up. I was in Nashville visiting with family after a Ring of Honor event and I hadn’t spoken to Brian in a few weeks. I texted him offering to be a guest speaker, something we had discussed in the past, for Spring 2016. He told me, ‘Hang tight. I might be sending you something, soon.’ Sure enough, there was an opening to teach Introduction to Media Relations in Sport, a class he had taught, and I couldn’t apply fast enough!”

HFU: How did you get involved with Ring of Honor?

IR: “I have been a professional wrestling fan for as long as I can remember. Working with ROH came through a series of serendipitous meetings and occurrences. Through Phillies Nation TV on Comcast Network, I was interviewing famous Phillies fans. I interviewed former WWE and ECW star The Blue Meanie, and he suggested we use the Monster Factory in Paulsboro, NJ as the backdrop. We filmed the segment, and I asked Danny Cage, the owner of the Monster Factory, how someone would get involved doing interviews and commentary. He told me to show up on a certain date and time and I went. I cut a couple 60-second promos, and then Kevin Kelly and “Brutal” Bob Evans talked to me about starting to come to some of the ROH shows. I started out as ring crew and then called my first match for them a few months later in Nashville.”

HFU: Switching to baseball, can you tell me about how you linked up with TCN to talk about the Phillies?

IR: “Phillies Nation TV on The Comcast Network is something I am very proud to be a part of. If you have ever seen that diagram of the tip of the iceberg that is going around on social media, where everyone sees just the tip, the visible success, but nobody sees what is underwater, the struggle, the elbow grease, that’s what the show has been and what has made it so rewarding.

Pat Gallen, now of CBS 3 Philly, and Corey Seidman, now of Comcast SportsNet, were filming web shorts with excellent production values with Brian Michael from Holy Family University, who runs Phillies Nation. I had just come aboard as a writer for the site and suggested airing a full-length show on Allentown’s Service Electric TV 2.

The meetings went well and we started airing there in 2012 and the following year, we latched on with Comcast Network with replays on Comcast SportsNet. I was really bad on camera in my first couple interviews. Really, truly horrible—but I believe that if you work hard enough, you can do anything.”

HFU: Can you tell me more about your book, Phillies Nation Presents The 100 Greatest Phillies of All Time? What made you want to chronicle the best Phillies to ever play the game?

IR: “With the book, it kind of happened by accident. In November 2013, Pat, Corey, and I met to discuss potential topics for the site and we talked about a countdown of the 100 greatest Phillies. I made an initial list and Pat and I worked on it pretty extensively to try to come up with a fair assessment of each player.

My mother-in-law, Barbara Morris, is an award-winning editor and after Pat believed that I had enough to make a book out of, I connected with Barb and asked her to edit what I had. I had no intentions of writing a book but am very happy with how it turned out!”

HFU: Now that you’re in the classroom at HFU teaching Sports Media, how can you take everything you’ve done—from ROH to the Phillies to authoring a book—and incorporate it into a lesson plan for the students?

IR: “The biggest thing that I hope to incorporate into lessons for the students is teaching them from my mistakes. I did an interview with Pete Orr once where I broke every unwritten journalism rule ever, including insulting the interview subject by complete accident. I want to tell them those stories—tell them how I learned by failing but also helping them avoid some of the pitfalls I faced.”

HFU: What is your teaching philosophy? What do you want the students to be able to say at the conclusion of your course?

IR: “At the end of this course, I hope that the students recognize the role media plays in the popularity of sport and how sports use the media to influence consumers. It is a very mutually beneficial relationship that is now morphing as social media allows athletes to go directly to their fans. I want them to be able to dissect a sports broadcast and explain the ‘who, what, where, when, why, and how” of all the elements—such as interviews and video packages.”


Second Annual Caregiving Symposium to be Held on February 13

Caregiving Symposium: February 13, 2016, 8:30 am12:00 pm
The symposium is free and open to the public.

Rosalynn Carter once said, "You have either been a caregiver, you are a caregiver, you will be a caregiver, or someone will care for you."

Caregiving touches us all at some point in our lives. Sponsored by the School of Education, Holy Family University's Second Annual Caregiving Symposium, is an opportunity to learn about practical, personal, and financial issues that are part of the caregiving experience. Drawing on the expertise of many disciplines, the Symposium will provide informative workshops and presentations on caring for others who experience complications of aging, disability, or trauma as well as caring for the all-important caregiver.

Join us on Holy Family University's Philadelphia Campus (9801 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19114) in the Education and Technology Center for a morning designed just for you, the caregiver.

We'd also like to offer a special thanks to our event partners: Networks for Training and Development, Philadelphia Office of Developmental Programs, and Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care.

Register at

Session Descriptions

Keynote: Caregiving–We All Have a Story
Gerry Anderson Arango, School of Education
Gerry Anderson Arango is the author of the memoir, What Would Nola Do? What My Mother Taught Me about Showing Up, Being Present and the Art of Caregiving. A professor of special education at Holy Family University, Gerry will share her story and offer insights into the many facets – physical, emotional and spiritual – of caregiving as parent, daughter and friend.

Critical Conversations about Financing Long-Term Care
J. Barry Dickinson, School of Business Administration and Extended Learning
Barry Dickinson's presentation will focus on long-term care from a financial perspective. 70% of individuals, over the age of 65, will require some form of long term care for at least three years in their lives. But how many of us plan for this almost inevitable reality? How much does long term care cost? Who does, and does not, pay for it? What is the best way to financially plan for your future care? When should you start planning?

Growing Old Together: Assisting Our Aging Parents with Respect
James R. Huber, PhD, LMFT, School of Arts and Sciences
In this upbeat, interactive one-hour program, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Jim Huber will affirm the challenge of assisting aging parents and offer ten practical tips for managing this important relationship with both respect and results.

Relaxation Room:
Taking Care of Yourself: The Mind, Body, and Spirit Connection

Jessica Stover, MS, ATP – Networks for Training and Development, Inc.
How can we more fully connect to life, events, and people around us when everything seems to be in constant motion? Join Jill and Jessica as we explore ways everyone can take a breath (literally!), become more grounded and centered, and be more present and engaged in activities and relationships that are the heart and soul of our well-being.

Advocacy 101
Linda Thompson, PhD, LPC
Caregivers often feel they need a voice in advocating for their rights and in understanding how to navigate complex systems of care and options. This session will discuss how caregivers can access advocates, find information on caregiver supports, and become active voices for change and support for each other.

Stress Reduction
Christopher Walcott, DC, Advanced Wellness Center of PA
This fun and informative presentation will outline some of the primary stresses experienced by caregivers, with immediate take home techniques for stress management. Dr. Walcott will go over the primary stressors, broken into the categories of emotional, chemical, and physical.  With each category, he will give real and effective techniques to manage the issues, including take home tools.

Creating Your Wellness Vision & Wellness Toolbox: Self Care for the 21st Century
Linda L Weihbrecht, BSN, RN, LMT, Certified Clinical Aromatherapist
This training provides information on Stress Management with special emphasis on the stress response. The participant will gain knowledge about types of stressors, symptoms and effects of stress, positive and negative stress, and coping strategies and tips to reduce stress. Interactive workshop.

Wellness: Balance Your Mind, Body & Soul Using Chair Yoga and Meditation
Mary Wombwell EdD, RN, CNE | Boas Yu,  EdD, RN, FNP-BC, CNE, GCNS
School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions
Both yoga and meditation, when used consistently, have proven health benefits. Especially when practicing yoga and meditation together, the mind-body connection can be strengthened, improving overall fitness and well-being. They are both very portable and easy to learn. Chair yoga will be presented in the first half of the session; and meditation will be practiced in the second half. If you prefer to bring your mat, cushion, or blanket, please feel free.

Advanced Care Planning: A Guide to Caring For Your Loved One and Yourself
Melissa Wombwell-Twersky, LSW, CMC, Geriatric Care Manager, Geriatric Care Consulting
This presentation will provide a guide to caring for the elderly population and will cover several areas, including an explanation of long term care options (retirement community, home care, adult day care). Discussion will also include how this care is financed. The next area covered will be community resources that are available to seniors and how to access them. The third area will include information on advance directives including Living wills, Power of Attorney documents, Do Not Resuscitate orders, and what kind of assistance elder care lawyers can provide. The last area covered will include information on end of life care including hospice and palliative care. Funeral planning, support group information, and caregiver resources for self-care will also be provided.