Student’s Project Becomes Means for Educating Others

Student’s Project Becomes Means for Educating Others

The service learning project combined student Vicky Ranftl’s Adult Studies education with her passion to raise awareness of pulmonary hypertension (PH), a rare disorder causing intolerable blood pressure levels in the arteries between the lungs and heart.

“We were instructed to choose a subject for our project that we are passionate about,” said Ranftl at a recent presentation to fellow Adult Studies students. On the screen behind her was a picture of her granddaughter Tatiana, 6, who was recently diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension.

We were instructed to choose a subject for our project that we are passionate about.” Vicky Ranftl

Trinity’s service learning practicum is the capstone course to a new major, Elementary Education Studies. The practicum requires that students engage in 80 hours of field work to create and implement a service learning project in an educational setting.

For the project, Ranftl enlisted the students in Shepard High School’s Leo Club to collaborate with her. She integrated the project into the 9-12 grade curriculum, educating the students about PH, introducing them to Tatiana–which Ranftl said “made it real” for the students–and leading them in efforts to educate the public.

That education involved an exhibit about PH that Ranftl and the students presented at the high school. They also collected 800 signatures to send to state representatives with a request that they co-sponsor the Tom Lantos Pulmonary Hypertension Research and Education Act. The bill calls for more research and increased efforts to raise public and professional awareness. Their efforts also prompted local mayors to declare November Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month.

“Although Vicky faced substantial challenges in implementing her service-learning project, she had a goal in mind and refused to give up or settle for an easy project,” said Dr. Rhoda Mattson, associate professor of education. “She went above and beyond to implement a multi-faceted and creative project and showed evidence that she really understood what service learning is about.”