Outstanding Student Award
Class of 2023
Major: Biological Sciences
Hobbies: Animal care and gardening
"My service-learning experience has raised my social awareness and driven me to be more active in my community."
- Natalie Simmons
“Natalie has displayed incredible initiative, creativity, and professionalism in how she has revamped her service-learning collaboration over the past month. She is currently partnering with Walthourville Fire Department, focusing on mental health in first responders (firefighters, police officers, and EMS personnel), those who are at a greater risk for contracting the Coronavirus. As she states in a reflective journal entry:
My project relies heavily on research on different mental disorders like PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc., suicide, and substance abuse, as well the symptoms and different methods to triage a first responder who may be suffering from one of the disorders mentioned above. Did you know that every year, barring a tragic event like 9/11 or our current pandemic, we lose more emergency services personnel to suicide than in the line of duty?
I am so proud of how Natalie’s project has developed; its excellence is apparent not only in its execution but also in its relevance and importance. Due to the inability to print a large poster, Natalie has instead developed a Mental Health Binder, which, as she describes, has ‘all of the information that I’ve gathered from statistics, signs and symptoms, resources, emotional triaging for when they’re on the scenes of fatalities or when they’ve returned from a sexual violence call, how to evaluate yourself or a coworker for mental health, etc.’ Her plan is to print two copies of the binder and keep one in the training room and one in the dining area of the fire station. Then, her plan is to convert it to a PDF and publish it online, so people are easily able to download it and use it as an education tool in their own first responder stations. It is important to stress that the Mental Health Binder is not only based on external research but also on Natalie’s own time spent at the Walthourville Fire Department.”
- Anelise Farris, Ph.D.