October 2010 Archives
by Mark Merickel, Dean
You may have seen me on campus accompanied by a dog wearing a "Service Dog" vest. This would be my new three year old collie, Fame. Fame has been working with me for four months now. Together, Fame and I went through a Humane Society training program. Although she was a much quicker study than I, we both managed to pass. Fame has received her assistance dog license from Sonoma County and is recognized by SSU as my official service dog. She now accompanies me daily to SSU. I will also point out that Fame was interviewed by President Armiñana who was so impressed after five minutes he invited her to become a member of his Extended Cabinet. Fame rarely speaks at these meetings but when she does everyone seems to pay attention.
Fame is indeed a service dog, but she should not be confused with a dog trained for the sight impaired. The training for a service dog for the blind is far more rigorous than what Fame and I went through. Service dogs for the blind are very special dogs prepared to help limited or non-sighted individuals navigate a daily schedule that most of us take for granted. As my service dog, Fame helps me deal with chronic pain stemming from a spinal injury and, to show her special status, she wears her blue vest with patches that say "Service Dog - Access Required." This gives Fame the ability to accompany me throughout the campus, to visit the library and galleries, to attend meetings, and other happenings and events.
Although Fame will be working when she is wearing her vest, she can meet folks and always enjoys a friendly pat. Please just ask first. Fame is shy and will generally only approach folks to about an arm's distance away. You can then take a step toward her and pet her if you would like. Don't be confused by her shy behavior, she likes people.
To all of you pet lovers out there; let me share a little information I have learned about the health benefits of having pets. I know that Fame and our two cats have provided my wife and me with a fuller and healthier life.
• Pets provide therapeutic touch. Tests show that within minutes of petting a dog, the human and dog experience a massive release of such beneficial hormones as prolactin, oxytocin, and phenyl ethylamine.
• Seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less often than those who don't. In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed dog owners had 21% fewer physician contacts than non-dog-owners.
• Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners.
• Pet owners enjoy better physical health because they exercise more with their pets.
• Pets decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
• People with AIDS who own pets experience less depression and reduced stress. Studies show that pets are a major source of support and increase a person's perception that he or she can cope.
• Having a pet present reduces a pet owner's stress more than the company of a close friend or even a spouse. Researchers asked 240 married couples, half of them pet owners, to perform two stress-inducing tasks--mental arithmetic problems and submerging a hand in ice water for two minutes. People with a pet present enjoyed much lower baseline heart rate and blood pressure levels than people without pets. They also made fewer errors during the math test.
The information provided above was taken from (http://www.pet-hospital.info/pages/pets_forhealth.htm ).
Have a wonderful summer everyone.
Mark and Fame
SSALI had an action-packed summer in 2010. The first 5-week session saw students from 11 countries supplementing their studies in Intensive English with Friday trips to San Francisco, Armstrong Woods, Korbel Winery and canoeing on the Russian River.
In the second summer session, the SSALI enrollment more than doubled primarily due to three special groups from universities in Japan: Nihon University of Law, Kanazawa Medical University, and Anan National College of Technology. In addition to their regular studies, these students benefited from some special trips to Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, the Superior Court of Sonoma County, and the Sutter Family Medicine Clinic. Again, too, all the SSALI students had opportunities for Friday field trips to 6 Flags Marine World, San Francisco, Sonoma Coast Beach, and the Sonoma County Fair.
Some students participated in a new course, San Francisco Through Movies, which culminated with a film tour of San Francisco where they could observe first-hand many of the film locations they studied during the course. If this seems like a lot of fun, it is! However, SSALI strongly believes that these activities have a very positive impact on the students' progress in English while enhancing their cultural understanding of the United States and promoting life-long friendships that transcend all borders.
The EXCEL Youth Enrichment program celebrated its 28th year on the SSU campus this summer with 47 innovative classes for students entering 4th through 9th grades. The one to two week classes used the school's specialized arts, science and technology labs, as well as providing guest speakers and field trips.
Over 650 students participated in courses which included: Pre-Med for Kids, Exploring Shakespeare, 3-D Animation and Modeling, I- Movie, Monster Quest, Build Your First Website, Crime Scene Investigation, Fashion Design and Crash and Burn Chemistry.
In partnership with Santa Rosa's sister city program, 17 high school students from the Korean island of Jeju participated in an EXCEL Mastering Multimedia class.
In addition, the EXCEL High School Teaching Assistant Program allowed 24 high school volunteers (many former Excel students) to earn community involvement credit while working as assistants to our faculty.
Read the online article from the Press Democrat and see the student movies created in our Stop-Action Animation class in June.