Valdosta State Students & Faculty Volunteer with the Special Olympics of Georgia

Last week, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority hosted a bowling event as part of the Special Olympic Games at Jac’s Bowling Lane. At the event, many volunteers arrived to show support and to help, including students and staff from the Valdosta State University Dewar College of Education and Human Services, Moody Air Force Base, and hundreds of students and teachers from surrounding South Georgia counties.

Tammy Greenway, an adjunct professor in the Kinesiology & Physical Education Department at Valdosta State, has a son, Cade who has special needs. Cade is currently a student at Lowndes High School. According to Greenway, Cade has a desire to be social, and participating in bowling allows for him to be with friends while increasing his self-confidence. Greenway comments that being involved in this event allows for her son to believe he is a part of the normalcy of life. Lee Brown, an educator at a local elementary school says that her son Cullen was very excited to attend the event this year. Brown loves seeing the Valdosta State students and high school students help others with special needs. 

The event gained the support of many individuals in the community, in hopes to heighten awareness about the importance of the inclusion of students with special needs. The Special Olympics of Georgia provide opportunities to children and adults with intellectual disabilities to strengthen physical fitness, demonstrate courage, develop lasting friendships, and to experience joy. 

Source: Valdosta Daily Times, October 31, 2019


Marriage and Family Therapy Undergraduate Research Team

Research can be pain-staking, requiring enormous amounts of time, energy, willpower, caffeine, and attention to detail. To provide avenues for tackling the challenge of research, the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program offers a research course that provides the opportunity to join the MFT research team. Both allow MFT students to design a research project, collect data, perform data analysis, and present their findings. In particular, the research team (comprised of three faculty members and six students) engage in a hands-on experience where students learn about the research process and guide a project from beginning to end. In prior years, student team members have led their own projects and used the projects to gain experience for their doctorate degree. Others have valued the parallel between growing as a researcher and as a therapist. For instance, an unyielding curiosity, an investigative mind, and the ability to create comfort and openness with research participants were skills that also apply directly to the therapy room.

The interest of different teams of researchers vary greatly, from understanding the evolving relationships between adult children and their aging parents to research on how women in the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) community make decisions around food. Khushbu Patel, who is a member of a research team stated, “Presenting at the Georgia Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (GAMFT) conference helped me understand why this topic [relationship between adult children and aging parents] is important to research because there is little information on how to navigate this stressful and sensitive time period. Many of the attendees related to this topic on a personal level which in turn motivated and reassured me in doing good research and contributing to the field.”

Members of the MFT Research Teams have gained new insight from the experience including gaining hands on experience, presenting at the state level, the interview process, file maintenance, collaboration, and how to conduct a research project from start to finish.

The MFT Research Team has provided an opportunity for students to learn and engage on how to effectively collaborate with a team, a heightened appreciation for multivocality, and an understanding for the value of feedback from supervisors and colleagues. Research conducted by the department could be very beneficial to communities and families if a more thorough and experiential understanding is brought to light using a systemic, qualitative, and postmodern lense.


For more information or to apply to participate in a research team, please contact Dr. Nguyen (hnnguyen@valdosta.edu).

Written by Michael Serrano-Jones, student member of the MFT Research Team. 


Military Families Learning Network Family Development Team Receives Prestigious Award

Members of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Family Development Team at Valdosta State University were recently honored with the Mary W. Wells Memorial Diversity Award for their part in producing the 2018 Virtual Conference titled Cultural Competency Awareness, Action, and Advocacy. Along with other MFLN teams at Auburn, Virginia Tech, North Dakota State, Texas A & M, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and University of Minnesota, VSU’s MFLN Family Development team will be presented with the award at the National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) awards ceremony in the fall.

The MFLN Family Development team, comprised of Dr. Kacy Mixon, Jason Jowers and Kalin Goble and housed in the College of Education & Human Services, is part of a national grant initiative funded by the Department of Defense (DoD). MLFN produces free, open access, online learning opportunities such as webinars, virtual conferences, podcasts and other resources to support the work of educators and human service providers connected to military service members and their families. In addition to a focus on Family Development, other MFLN teams across the country include: Military Caregiving, Personal Finance, Early Intervention, Community Capacity Building, Family Transitions, Network Literacy, and Nutrition & Wellness

In August, MFLN will be hosting a groundbreaking webinar series bringing together three pre-eminent resilience theorists and researchers, Dr. Ann Masten, Dr. Froma Walsh, and Dr. Michael Ungar, to share insight on addressing barriers, identifying various systems and promoting protective factors to support individual, family and community resilience. Participants will engage with these influential facilitators and each other to practice resilience thinking and learn how to apply the principles from this series in their work. RSVP for the Resilience Series here: https://militaryfamilieslearningnetwork.org/resilienceseries/

You can find more information about upcoming MFLN Family Development trainings here: https://www.valdosta.edu/familydevelopment or contact Dr. Kacy Mixon (kamixon@valdosta.edu).


Higher Education Leadership Class of 2019

The Master of Education in Educational Leadership/Higher Education degree program has always been successful in job placement post-graduation, as 95% of students who graduate have a job within 3 months. The Class of 2019 is particularly noteworthy because 100% of students were employed prior to walking across the stage at graduation on May 10th.  This is a major milestone for the program, as it is the first year that all students held a position as they were graduating.

The graduating class is now spread across the country and are employed at various institutions such as the University of Miami, Texas Tech University, Purdue University, Florida State University, Duke University, Washington State University, Clayton State University, Old Dominion University, Valdosta State University, University of South Carolina, and Miami Community College. Positions acquired include directors, assistant directors, coaches, coordinators, assistant coaches and clinicians. The program prepares students to work in higher education settings, however, some students use their skill set in the K-12 setting. For instance, two students have positions as teachers in the state of Florida and Georgia.

The Higher Education Leadership degree program develops leadership skills and knowledge of students through the teaching of student learning and developmental theories, the history of higher education in the United States, interpretation of organizational and financial structures, and the evaluation of institutional effectiveness.

The success of the program would not be possible without faculty who go the extra mile to ensure student success. Professors in the department spend countless hours conducting mock interviews, reviewing and editing resumes, and providing connections to future employers. While one of the main purposes of these professors is to educate and cultivate professionals and lifelong learners in the field of higher education, job outlook and placement for students is a top priority.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019!




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