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May graduates prepare for the next chapter

Students discuss one-of-a-kind experiences at CMU and career goals

Contact: Heather Smith


​​For three soon-to-be Central Michigan University alumni, classroom and extracurricular leadership roles have transformed the way they look at life and helped them carve a career path that combines interests and disciplines.

These students have embraced opportunities for hands-on learning in and out of the classroom — from getting involved in global health advocacy to providing dance therapy at a local nursing home. They are each shining examples of the university's commitment to give back to the community. ​

The trio of undergraduate and graduate students also has a few pieces of advice for current and prospective CMU Chippewas as they prepare for their next chapters. Read their stories below.​

As part of her honors capstone project, Big Rapids senior Ana Lossing was looking for a way to help dementia patients by combining her neuroscience degree with her passion for dance.

With dementia affecting more than 50 million people worldwide, Lossing saw a need for a more effective and accessible treatment option for patients.

“Both music and physical exercise have proven to be beneficial therapy interventions when dealing with a variety of disorders,” Lossing said. “The great thing about dance is that it combines both of these therapeutic elements.”

Over the course of nine sessions, she worked closely with 10 dementia patients and explored the use of dance as a therapeutic intervention in a nursing home setting. Lossing facilitated multiple dance exercises at a local nursing home, which helped patients with social interaction, energy, mood, self-expression and memory recall.

Throughout her sessions, she began to notice positive changes with some of the patients.

“There was one resident who was nonverbal. When we sang Christmas carols, she would begin to hum along with us, and you could notice her start to say a few more words than usual,” Lossing said. “It was a humbling experience to hear her recall the lyrics and participate.”

Lossing graduates with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and a minor in dance.

Throughout her undergraduate career, the Big Rapids senior also had the opportunity to interview national dance organizations that work directly with people with disabilities, including the Boston Ballet, AXIS Dance Co., StopGap Dance Co., School of Dancing Wheels and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

After graduation and graduate school, Lossing hopes to work with children with disabilities in developing countries as a physical therapist.

Sam Mehr created his own path of classroom and hands-on learning at CMU. The student from South Lyon — who will complete his master’s degree in economics this semester — found a way to combine his studies and passion for global health. In fact, Mehr was one of two college students in the country to be named ‘UAEMer of the Year’ by Universities Allied for Essential Medicine — a global health organization for students.

Since becoming a member of UAEM in 2013, Mehr has served as the CMU UAEM chapter president and a member of the 2015-16 national coordinating committee. He also joined fellow students and dignitaries from around the globe at a meeting of the World Health Assembly — a decision-making body of the World Health Organization — in Geneva, Switzerland. There, he learned about challenges and opportunities in social justice and policymaking.

“Listening to the dialogue and seeing the power structure between nations was an incredible experience. I already understood there are problems out there, and you always want to do something, but you also realize that these are much more complex issues and systems,” Mehr said. “By having these experiences, you grow as an individual and as an intellectual, but you also just get a better picture of how things work in the real world.”

CMU’s UAEM chapter brings together the skills and interests of undergraduate and graduate students studying a variety of disciplines. Members regularly participate in meetings, submit policy position papers, and collaborate to educate others on topics like access to medicine and health care.

The organization not only gave Mehr professional experience in health policy and advocacy at the national and global levels, but helped him focus his studies and define a career path in human rights law.

“I would not be the same individual had I not joined the group,” he said. “It was a maturing experience that forced me to grow, see things differently and challenge the way I think.”

UAEM members, including Mehr, also hosted the fifth annual Health4All Conference — a culmination of months of planning and coordination. This year’s theme, “Ensuring Social Justice in Global Health,” included speakers from around the world.

Mehr says leaving campus after earning his bachelor’s degree in economics and, now, master’s degree from CMU is bittersweet.

“It is exciting, but I love it here,” said Mehr. “This was the perfect environment after high school. I wasn’t as focused and driven when I arrived, but I was able to develop relationships with faculty who challenged me personally and intellectually. They inspired me to work harder.”

This fall, Mehr will begin classes to earn his law degree. His time and experiences at UAEM have fueled an interest in human rights law and affecting the legal framework of health policy.

“I want to help others and make an impact, no matter what I do,” Mehr said.

Mehr had a few words of wisdom for younger members of UAEM, prospective CMU Chippewas and current students.

“Find your passion and apply your studies to it,” said Mehr. “You will have the chance to make a difference. That is what my combining experience in classes and UAEM did for me.”

Charnae Sanders, a senior from Southfield, will graduate from Central Michigan University in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Sanders says her experience at CMU has inspired her to step out of her comfort zone and have the confidence to see how she can make a difference in the world.

“To me, being a Chippewa is about getting involved — heavily involved — doing as much as you can while you are still here,” Sanders said.


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