By Layla Kellogg

“What are the things that you wish we had or wish we did better on campus or that would help you with your health or with being a student here?” This is the question Dr. Mary Pike asks her students when she briefs them on a unique end-of semester-assignment for her Introduction to Health Care class.

In this Health 300 class, students get to create and submit their own grant proposals for the chance to have them implemented on campus.

According to the assignment, “This assignment provides the opportunity for students to identify a need related to the health of the Bellarmine community (students, staff, faculty, alumni, etc.) or the Highlands community and to write and present a competitive proposal on how to address the need.”

Pike has given the assignment the past four years and said she wanted to make students aware of health-related issues that affect the Bellarmine community.

“I wanted this to be as authentic as possible,” Pike said.

She stresses the importance of students determining the financial means to put their proposals into action.

“We use that term ‘grant’ because when you’re talking about health out in the community, that is the way it is usually funded, but there really is no set pool of money,” Pike said. “Part of their proposal is they have to talk about what the cost will be and where that money is coming from, and that’s something that’s evolved over the classes.”

Students are able to create a proposal for a wide variety of health-related issues.

“I am just incredibly impressed with what students come up with,” said Pike.

Some ideas that have been proposed in the past include: scheduled transportation to and from the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center for swimming, a farmer’s market on campus, efforts to raise awareness for human papillomavirus, an equestrian club for physical and mental health, tower gardens for access to fresh fruits and vegetables in dorms, and handicapped parking reform.

Meridith Richards proposed putting hand sanitizer pumps on all campus shuttles, and her proposal was selected to be implemented.

“I think it’s awesome that Bellarmine decided to put my idea into action,” Richards said. “Even if it is something as small as a hand sanitizer pump- it can make a person, like myself, feel as though they have more impact and a voice in a community, like Bellarmine.

“As college students, we often put our health on the back burner because our agendas are packed with other tasks and due dates” Richards said. “So if all it takes is a simple hand sanitizing every time a student gets on and off the shuttle to help prevent illnesses on campus, then that’s one step in the right direction.”

Pike said she initially had graduate students judging the grant proposals to determine a winner based on the most creative, interesting, and feasible project. Two years ago, Elizabeth Cassady, assistant dean of students, joined as a judge.

“I really wanted someone who could play a bigger role in helping to implement some of these (ideas),” Pike said.

“I love hearing the fresh ideas from the students in the class. Both years I have been involved, the pride in our campus and concern for fellow students has emerged as a guiding theme in the students’ proposals,” Cassady said. “The proposals are always a strong reminder of what students are concerned about and how to better support our students’ health and well-being from a holistic mind, body and spirit perspective.”


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