Two College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty members were recognized during the UF International Center’s International Education Week events Nov. 14-18. Claudia Senesac, Ph.D., P.T., received the college’s International Educator of the Year award, and Elizabeth Wood, D.H.S., M.P.H., won first place in the faculty, staff and alumni category of the campus-wide Global Culture Photo Contest.
Senesac, a clinical associate professor in the department of physical therapy, was honored for her work with the Nicaragua Project, an annual program in which Doctor of Physical Therapy students and faculty travel to Managua to provide continuing education for local clinicians and physical therapy faculty members at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua. Senesac has been involved with the program every year since its launch in 2003, and has led students in six trips to Nicaragua.
“Her direct contribution has allowed UF DPT students to experience working with patients in a different health care delivery system with different resources, cultural values, expectations and health beliefs,” said Mark Bishop, Ph.D., P.T., a UF associate professor of physical therapy. “This significantly expands students’ cultural competence.”
Senesac has played a critical role in the Nicaragua Project’s evolvement over the years, including coordinating the first pediatric lab-based educational program in Nicaragua, and securing opportunities for UF DPT students to treat patients at local hospitals under the supervision of UF and Nicaraguan faculty members and in cooperation with hospital therapists. Senesac has also guided UF students in developing a research protocol and informed consent in order to perform qualitative research on different aspects of the Nicaragua Project, including sustainability of the program and the integration of material into clinical practice.
Over the years, Senesac has developed strong relationships with the physical therapy faculty at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua. Last year she initiated an effort to actively engage them in teaching the course.
“This initiative was highly successful, facilitating the integration of the University of Florida’s educational objectives into UNAN’s curriculum, and helping to ensure that best practices are transferred to young physical therapy students and clinicians in Nicaragua,” said Krista Vandenborne, Ph.D., P.T., a professor and chair of the UF department of physical therapy.
Wood, director of the college’s Bachelor of Public Health program and a clinical assistant professor in the department of environmental and global health, took the top prize in the faculty, staff and alumni category of the UF International Center’s annual photo contest. Wood’s photo of a Maasai warrior demonstrating how to start a fire from sticks and straw was taken last year during a visit to the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Wood was in Kenya working with Positive Life Kenya, a non-governmental agency based in Mlolongo that provides education, health care and income-generating programs to women with HIV, in addition to housing and education for children who are orphaned or vulnerable.
“The photo has a mysterious atmospheric quality that draws the viewer in,” a judge wrote. “Its partially silhouetted figures add to the sense of mystery, leaving the viewer wanting to know more about the figures’ culture.”