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Senior Katie Crane focused on helping young patients cope with unhealthy use of devices.

Taking every opportunity to help

Katie Crane said yes to research, volunteering and patient care. Nursing schools noticed.

Contact: Ari Harris

​Central Michigan University senior Katie Crane spent four years saying yes to every opportunity.

Crane, who will graduate this month with a degree in psychology, said yes to participating in lung cancer and stroke research in the lab at the CMU College of Medicine. Yes to Alternative Breaks to provide HIV education in St. Louis, Missouri, and child wellness in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

"It's amazing how easy it can be to have amazing experiences if you just take initiative." — Katie Crane, CMU graduating senior

She said yes to volunteering, teaching, mentoring and lots of hard work outside of the classroom and lab.


Katie Crane, right, presents her research at the 2017 honors exhibition.

Now her willingness to take on new projects, assist with faculty research and help others is paying her back. Crane applied to five nursing programs — all among the top-ranked programs in the nation — and received five offers of admission.

Most came with substantial scholarship awards.

Answering when opportunity knocks

Crane decided to come to CMU after learning she had received a Centralis scholarship that would provide not only tuition, but academic and leadership experiences she hadn't seen offered elsewhere.

"CMU's honors program gave me so many opportunities to explore and try new things," she said. She participated in research each of her four years on campus, served as a teaching assistant for an honors anatomy lab course and participated in several service-learning activities.

During a shadowing experience with a neurosurgery team at the MidMichigan Medical Center, Crane noticed the powerful impact nurses had on pre-operative patients and knew she'd found her calling. She pursued that passion to Ireland, where she worked with a nursing team at the University of Limerick during study abroad.

"It's amazing how easy it can be to have amazing experiences if you just take initiative. I've found that faculty are more than willing to help you grow if you simply reach out and ask," she said.

A passion for hands-on helping

When Crane attended an infant and child psychology course with faculty member Sarah Domoff, she knew she'd found a mentor and a starting point for her senior project: healthy social media behavior for children.

Working with Domoff, Crane spent months researching adolescent behavior, studying effective methods for creating behavioral change. She developed tools for practitioners working with young people including a group therapy session script, PowerPoint presentation for patients and interview questions. There's even a coping skills bingo game.


Crane created a coping skills bingo game to help with unhealthy social media use.

She presented the tool to members of the inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit at C. S. Mott Children's Hospital, where it is currently being implemented and measured for effectiveness.

The experiences won the attention of the admissions teams at nursing schools, and Crane is ready to begin her studies this fall at the University of Pennsylvania, the No. 1-ranked nursing program in the country, according to QS World University Rankings.

While she's proud of those acceptance letters and scholarships, she's even more proud of the impact her work at CMU will have on children.

"The most rewarding thing is knowing that this tool that I've created in helping kids who are experiencing a mental health crisis. My tool is helping them process their feelings and understand the things they are seeing on social media. That's incredibly satisfying."

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