Vomiting mannequins help nursing students gain confidence

The life-like – and death-like – computerized mannequins used by York’s School of Nursing can talk, express pain, make coughing, vomiting and rapid breathing sounds, be allergic to medications and even “die,” reported the Toronto Sun in a feature story Feb. 18. “It’s essential for nursing students not only to be competent but also confident in their skills,” said Lesley Beagrie, director of York’s School of Nursing. “That’s what this centre does.” The 900 nursing students have been working in the 460-square-metre lab, which looks like a real hospital, since it opened in September. “[Job] placements are so rare for nursing students that any practical experience they can get will really help them out,” Beagrie said.

Mourners recall short, sweet life of Chantel Dunn

Her voice cracking with grief, her knuckles white from clutching the podium, Pastor Yvonne Bullard summoned the strength to rally the weeping crowd at the funeral for York student Chantel Dunn, reported the Toronto Sun Feb. 19. Dressed in her niece’s favourite colours, white and pink, Dunn’s maternal aunt pleaded for the 19-year-old’s killer to surrender. “Stand up and say who you are,” she appealed at Praise Cathedral Worship Centre during Dunn’s funeral. “I know who you are, you are the one who removed Chantel from our lives. You took our daughter, our niece our granddaughter … a mother’s joy, a father’s pride, a family’s delight.” Calling the shooting the work of warped minds, Rev. Cadmore Lewis’ sermon punctuated the sadness. He urged the black community to solve matters itself. “Stop pointing the finger at white folks,” he said. “Stop playing the race card. Start looking at ourselves. It’s time for action.”

After the service, Bullard said her family will never be the same. “No young person deserves to die like that,” she said. About 2,000 mourners gathered Saturday to pay tribute to a Dunn in funeral services which were widely reported in Toronto newspapers and news broadcasts.

Children of mixed marriages find ways to deal with lingering stigmas

In a Toronto Sun story Feb. 19 on interracial marriage, York University sociologist Lorne Foster said the term “mixed” is increasingly becoming a label of choice with “racially ambiguous” children of interracial couples. “It’s a new category describing people who are not readily defined or for whom it’s sometimes difficult to discern their ethno-racial background,” he said. “There’s a lessening of interracial boundaries, but stigma is still persistent especially with black-white couples.”

Kids learn via interactive video

Public school students may, some day, take part in classroom lessons at learning institutions like the Louvre in France without ever leaving the familiar surroundings of their home rooms, reported the Brampton Guardian, Feb. 19. The Peel District School Board is beginning to use video conferencing technology to expand the walls of its classrooms and enhance learning for students. Peel is one of the school boards that has partnered with York University, which is leading the Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning (ABLE) project. Students at Great Lakes Public School helped to officially launch the local program by taking part in a three-day science and technology tutorial taught to students at the Brampton school from a site in Mississauga.

York student helps youth cabinet open doors at city hall

Kathryn Asher, a graduate student in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, had a hand in developing an innovative youth cabinet to provide an official voice for local youth at city hall in Saint John, reported the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, Feb. 18. A project by the city’s Human Development Council was the birthplace of the plan. During the summer of 2005, the feasibility of creating a cabinet was explored through a summer student research project. Asher, a Fredericton native, took on the task. The social environment of cities, social movements and advocacy on behalf of other devalued groups were part of her field of study. Asher said of local youth, “They have so much to bring to the table.”

Foreign students flock to Canada for MBA programs

Canada’s business schools are succeeding in telling the world that they’re first class and, in doing so, they’re attracting students from around the globe, said the Toronto Star in one of a series of stories on MBA programs published Feb. 18 during the World MBA Fair in Toronto. As a result of aggressive marketing efforts overseas, substantially higher fees at US educational institutions and a tighter American border in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, business schools in Canada are proving to be the destination of choice for foreign students seeking an MBA. “All schools have seen a change in the demand in Canada because of what has been going on since the problems of September [2001],” says Charmaine Courtis, executive director of student services and international relations with York’s Schulich School of Business. “Yes, the borders have tightened up into the US and that has affected the applicants’ choices to come to Canada.” Courtis estimates nearly one-third of Schulich’s MBA students are from foreign countries. “Overall, enrolment remains strong and hiring is up across the board,” said Dezsö J. Horváth, dean at Schulich. “This is the best year for recruiting we’ve had in a decade.”

How does the dream of an MBA pay off in terms of jobs and salaries? In January, the Financial Times of London published results of its 2006 global MBA rankings survey. The newspaper said the salaries of Schulich students who responded to its survey increased an average of 146 per cent from their time of enrolment to three years after graduation. And about 90 per cent of Schulich students found jobs within three months of graduating. “The average salary for an MBA graduate (of 2002 and 2003) from good Canadian schools was about $90,000,” said Horváth. Bear in mind that’s an average. “The range is actually huge … from $50,000 to over $200,000,” he says. “We have grads who go to the private sector or the arts sector,” Horváth says. “Quite often they’re not well paid. These students don’t come for an MBA for the money, they come to be more professional in their work. The value in terms of an MBA shouldn’t be looked at solely in terms of money.” Horvath says demand now for an MBA is bigger than “ever before.”

Leandra Wells obtained an MBA from Schulich to make her PhD in molecular biology more marketable. Three years after graduation, Wells is now director of business development in Toronto at Innomar Strategies Inc., a pharmaceutical consulting firm. This year, she returned to Schulich to co-instruct a course. “The MBA really kind of positioned me in the industry workforce to show that I have that business capability and sense,” Wells says. “It did differentiate me among my competitors, when you compare me to other advanced science folks…. Before my MBA, the PhD opened doors – with research and development, and on the science side. But the MBA opened all the rest of the doors on the executive level and management on the business side. I feel like I have unlimited options now.”

New generation of Portuguese look to education for success

A report released this January by York University sociologist Michael Ornstein found that 33 per cent of Portuguese had not completed high school – twice the average for European groups, reported the Toronto Star in a feature story Feb. 18 on a new generation of successful Portuguese immigrants. An earlier report by Ornstein had noted that many children of Portuguese immigrants were doing the same low-skilled jobs as their parents.

Texting spells freedom for deaf students

A donation by Bell Mobility of 250 text message pagers and the promise of five years of free service to a group of young deaf people has helped them get out of the house more often, reported the Toronto Star Feb. 18 in a story on the pilot project that uses them. Connie Mayer, a literacy specialist and deaf-education professor in York’s Faculty of Education, agreed to monitor the project over five years with Toronto District School Board psychologist Jane Akamatsu. The Eglinton Rotary club paid for translators. “We had all permission forms and instructions translated into 12 different languages,” Mayer said. “Many of the parents don’t have English as a first language.” Beginning in 2002, Motorola pagers went to deaf and hard-of-hearing programs at two schools, Danforth Collegiate and Northern Secondary. The pagers went to students, their parents, teachers and in-class sign language interpreters. If the student had only one parent, a sibling or other relative also got a pager. “Right away we saw lots of benefits,” said Mayer, who interviews participants every three months. “Students were getting out of the house more.” Ultimately, Mayer says she would like to see the pagers added to the provincial Assistive Devices Program to subsidize message devices for deaf people the way hearing aids now are covered.

NB premier’s statement may be good for him in long run

New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord told reporters that backbencher Michael (Tanker) Malley decided to leave the government when the premier refused to give in to the legislator’s list of five demands – one of which was allegedly a judicial appointment for a friend, reported The Globe and Mail, Feb. 20. A political scientist with the University of New Brunswick in Saint John said it was “bizarre” that Lord would make those statements without proof. But Ian Greene, professor of political science and a member of York’s Centre for Practical Ethics, said the incident may make Lord look honourable. “It’s probably a good thing for him in the long run.”

Sharing that MP3 shuffle moment

York student Elizabete Rego’s random list of songs from a long study-night’s listening in Scott Library made the Toronto Star’s featurette, “Random Happiness” of Feb. 19, where readers share lists of song titles randomly served up by their MP3 players. In answer to the feature’s standard questions, Rego, a student in the Faculty of Education, said, “Conditions? I have no clue what it’s like outside. I haven’t been out there in hours. But it’s really quiet in the room, hence the boredom. Caveat? I was on a date… with my school books. But I love music and I was bored.” Rego’s song list included artists such as Babyface, Destiny’s Child with Slim Thug, Divine Brown, Frankie J, Gwen Stefani, Keshia Chante, Bon Jovi, Montell Jordan, Siria and the Pussycat Dolls.

Financial education project gets funding boost

A group of York University students will be among seven teams that will develop and implement financial literacy education projects with an emphasis on young people and women entrepreneurs, reported The Windsor Star Feb. 20. Vancouver-based HSBC Bank Canada has signed on as national partner with ACE, the non-profit operator of the Students In Free Enterprise program in Canada, which is running the pilot program called Financial Literacy Education Challenge.

On air

  • Annie Bunting, professor in the Law & Society Program of York’s Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts, discussed the impact of globalization on North American consumer culture on Rogers TV, Feb. 16.
  • Thabit Abdullah, professor of history in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the problems facing Iraq’s newly elected government on TVO’s Studio 2 on Feb. 17.