Summer Experiences Take SWMC Faculty and Staff Across the Country and the World

News | 08.23.2017
Debra Powell receiving award
Debra Powell, assistant professor of equine studies, was recognized for her contributions to the industry as a writer for Arabian Finish Line magazine during World Arabian Horse Racing Conference at Morocco in May.

By: Lindsey Richardt ’07

As students settle in for another academic year at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), faculty and staff are just catching their breath after a non-stop summer “vacation.” Their summertime journeys have taken them across the nation – and across the globe – as many were recognized for award-winning work; invited to share their professional insight and expertise at industry conferences; authored and published research articles and text books; and proudly completed advanced degrees. Before transitioning back into their academic routine, SMWC’s faculty and staff share some of their summer accomplishments.


Over 150 leadership programs across the country were represented at the Association of Leadership Professionals national conference in Phoenix, AZ this summer. The conference allows community leaders to connect with their peers to exchange leading edge perspectives, current trends and ideas. Senior Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations Susan Turner, presented on the topic of “Revolutionizing Adult Learning”, featuring the creation of the Wabash Valley Leadership Institute.

Art Therapy

Stella Stepney, MS, ATR-BC, LCAT, instructor for the SMWC Masters of Arts in Art Therapy Program, published the Third Edition of her book, Art Therapy with Students At Risk: Fostering Resilience and Growth Through Self-Expression. The Third Edition reflects the current research, legislation, and trends that impact the theory and practice of art therapy with diverse at-risk student populations. The book provides opportunities for students to express thoughts and feelings coupled with confirmation that their art is important to them and to others. The book is designed for art therapy students, professional art therapists, educators, administrators and practitioners in the allied professions of counseling, social work, psychology, prevention and human services.


The practice of yoga and mindfulness has been found to help children develop emotional intelligence, communication skills, compassion, trust and empathy, especially among children with special needs. Christine Marrs, professor of early childhood special education, attended a Yoga and Mindfulness seminar in Chelsea, Michigan this summer that was designed to provide yoga practitioners with the tools and knowledge needed to share the gift of yoga and mindfulness with children. Marrs plans to use what she learned this summer to expand on the practice in her developmental preschool classroom.


SMWC’s Assistant Professor of English, William Riley, earned a bronze medal at the 2017 Independent Publisher “IPPY” awards in New York City this summer for his book, The Milan Miracle: The Town That Hoosiers Left Behind. The IPPY Awards reward authors and publishers who “take chances and break new ground,” and recognize the important role independent publishers play in the world of books by offering an alternative to “the big five” conglomerated media publishers. In addition, Riley facilitated a workshop called, “Tidal Wave of Fake News Ruins Thousands of Student Projects!: Navigating Technical and Professional Writing in the Misinformation Age” at the International Professional Communication Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. The workshop helped writing instructors define fake news for their students, identify the ways social media lends ethos to fake news, and give students a consistent method to separate fake news from credible information.

English Language Institute

Each summer, the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College English Language Institute (ELI) faculty lead English as a Second Language students on an annual off-site enrichment experience to further their acquisition of the English language through observation and conversation. This summer, faculty and students visited Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana where they were immersed in the Midwest lifestyle of several historic periods.

In addition, ELI instructor, Fritzi Anderson, used this summer to complete a Master of Arts degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The TESOL program prepares individuals to become effective teachers of English to adult learners who speak other native languages. Anderson has worked to complete the program while providing English as a Second Language instruction within SMWC’s English Language Institute (ELI). Anderson’s passion for ongoing education reinforces the ELI’s mission to be an enriched cultural experience for ELI students and current students at SMWC.


Leading equestrian health and science professional and award-winning international author, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Assistant Professor of Equine Studies, Debra Powell Ph.D., P.A.S., spent the summer sharing her expertise at equestrian conferences across the globe. Powell presented on the topics of equine nutrition and health, women in horse racing, breeding techniques, equine affiliated academics and research, and judged a graduate level project on equestrian genetics at the 25th Symposium of the Equine Science Society. In June, Powell was recognized for her contributions to the industry as a journalist for Arabian Finish Line magazine at the exclusive World Arabian Horse Racing Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco. In addition to her travels, Powell conducted the Equine Massage Therapy Certification course at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College providing students with over 360 hours of hands-on training.

Music Therapy

SMWC’s Associate Professor of Music Therapy, Sharon Boyle, MM, MT-BC, spent the summer wrapping up research on vocal health in music therapy by co-authoring an article with Rebecca Engen, PhD, MT-BC, Associate Professor of Music Therapy at Queens University of Charlotte. The article will be submitted to professional music therapy journals this fall. Boyle also authored a chapter on voice use in clinical musicianship, which will be included in the 2018 edition of Introduction of Music Therapy, published by the American Music Therapy Association.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Associate Professor of Human Services, Christine Wilkey, LSW, ACSW, spent the summer on campus connecting people with the therapeutic power of horses. Wilkey provided equine assisted therapy to guests from the Terre Haute Hamilton Center’s group homes. Equine assisted therapy offers horsemanship experiences to persons with mental, physical and psychological disabilities. In addition, Wilkey traveled to the University of Findlay to provide equine assisted learning sessions at a riding summer camp for young riders. Equine assisted learning is an experiential learning approach promoting the development of life skills.

Student Affairs

The American College Health Association (ACHA) hosts an annual conference each summer that provides college health professionals the opportunity to expand their professional development, network with peers and explore innovative strategies in college health and wellness. This year, Director of Student Affairs, Aimee Janssen-Robinson, M.Ed., CHES, was invited to participate as a professional mentor for a brand new ACHA mentoring program called Aspire. Janseen-Robinson was paired with a fellow College Health Association professional, whom she will continue to mentor throughout the year.


SMWC’s Theatre Director and Productions Manager, Danielle O’Connor, had the opportunity to serve as the Production Stage Manager for Indiana’s longest consecutive running summer stock theatre, Shawnee Theatre. Located in Bloomfield, Ind., Shawnee Theatre just completed their 58th continuous season and is where John Belushi got his start. This summer, the theatre featured six productions featuring professional designers, actors and technicians from across the country to record-breaking crowds.