Saginaw Valley State University student Melissa Jones received the Outstanding Undergraduate Oral Presentation award at the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine annual conference in Fort Wayne, Ind. November 6-7.
An exercise science major from Shelby Township in Macomb County, Jones’ presentation was titled “Influence of Parental Characteristics on Time Spent Being Active with their Children.” She was part of an SVSU research team of 15 students and five faculty that spent nearly a year gathering, analyzing and sharing data as part of the Midland Health Study.
Jones presented on evidence from the study that suggests that the amount of physical activity children partake in may be influenced by their parents’ demographic characteristics and lifestyle.
“I learned a lot more about the research process and what goes into presenting it so other people can understand it,” she said. “I also learned a lot about how the community benefits from these types of research projects.”
SVSU conducted the study on behalf of the Midland Area Community Foundation, the Health and Human Services Council of Midland County and other agencies.
“We are extremely pleased with the quality of the work performed by SVSU students and faculty,” Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation, said after the report was made available in May.
“The faculty team met numerous times with our small planning group. They adapted their work to the needs of our community and provided a finished product that will greatly benefit Midland County.”
Jones faced strong competition for her award, as the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine includes colleges and universities from six states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. In all, 16 SVSU students attended the conference and eight students presented.
For her portion of the research, Jones worked closely with Meghan Baruth, assistant professor of health sciences, and Rebecca Schlaff, assistant professor of kinesiology.
“They were so supportive of students throughout the process and very willing to teach along the way,” Jones said.
Jones plans to continue to conduct research in graduate school after completing her SVSU degree.
At the same conference, SVSU’s HealthyU program was named the winner of the 2015 Active U Competition award. The honor is given to the top health and wellness program among higher education institutions in the six-state region.
In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. By their senior year, 84 percent of students have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation. National research has shown that students who are engaged in the community and on campus are more likely to be successful academically, and to have the critical thinking, problem-solving skills, self-efficacy, and adaptability desired by employers.