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Partners in Education, Evaluation, and Research (PEER) Graduates 2nd Cohort
Left to right: Gloria Agosto-Davis, Sharon Shumaker, Michael Gierlach (not pictured: Jennifer Dodd)
Cohort 2 of the PEER (Partners in Education, Evaluation & Research) program celebrated their graduation June 19 at the Tinkham Veale Center on campus. PEER fellows, faculty partners and organizational mentors each received recognition of completion awards and were acknowledged for their hard work throughout the 15-month program. Fellows each completed a research project relevant to their organization, and also produced a scientific poster about their project. Cohort 2 consisted of the following fellows and organizations:

Gloria Agosto-Davis, Cuyahoga County Board of Health
For the past four years, Gloria has been the Grants Coordinator for the Teen Wellness, Child & Family Health Services & Prevent Premature Fatherhood initiative at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Her PEER project was “Analyzing the Teen Wellness Program Using the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.” Heidi Gullett, a faculty member in CWRU Family Medicine department was her faculty partner, and Claire Boettler (pronounced ‘Butler’) served as her organizational mentor from the Board of Health. Gloria’s research results showed that the YRBS data collected to gauge overall youth risk behaviors could be used as a proxy for health program interventions. She also concluded that future programming at the board of health should include a plan for assessing health outcomes in addition to post-test knowledge surveys. Although funding has ended for her initial program at CCBH, Gloria and Heidi were able to submit a proposal together for a Health and Human Services Teen Pregnancy Prevention grant to continue this important programming at CCBH.

Jennifer Dodd, Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County (ESC)
Jennifer serves as the Director of Operations and Development at the Educational Service Center of Cuyahoga County. Her PEER project was “The Impact of Foster Care on Kindergarten Readiness for Children with Indicated Cases of Child Abuse.” Rob Fischer of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences was her organizational mentor and has worked with her on previous projects for ESC. Bob Mengerink was her organizational mentor at ESC.

Jennifer’s research showed that there may be important differences in the impact of child abuse or foster care between children under the age of 3 and children between age 3 and kindergarten placement age. In her findings, foster care for those children under 3 sometimes acting as a negative, rather than a protective effect for kindergarten readiness. Jennifer intends to continue this research at ESC to determine if multiple foster care episodes (among other variables) affect her results.

Michael Gierlach, Care Alliance Health Centers
Michael is the Outcome and Evaluation Associate for Care Alliance Health Centers. His PEER project was “The Impact of Expanded Medicaid on Health Outcomes and Utilization for Care Alliance Patients.” Catherine Demko of the CWRU School of Dental Medicine was his faculty partner and Kate Fox-Nagel was his organizational mentor at Care Alliance.

Michael’s research included patients with diabetes and/or hypertension, two chronic conditions, and used several variables to determine utilization pre and post Medicaid expansion. His findings inferred that expanded Medicaid has a positive impact on Car Alliance pationed in terms of increasing their numer of visits, and had a positive association with positive health screenings behaviors such as getting annual eye exams and depression screenings. Michael and Care Alliance intend to continue his research building on what he has found, and using financial analysis of expanded coverage, longitudinal studies following patients over time and qualitative data studies of increasing Medicaid for Care Alliance patients.

Sharon Shumaker, Center for Cognition and Recovery
Sharon is the Clinical Director for the Center for Cognition and Recovery in Beachwood. Her PEER project was “The Idea of Hope among Graduates of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy.” Her faculty partner was Kathy Farkas of the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, and her organizational mentor was Wendy Maayan.

Sharon used both quantitative and qualitative methods in her research into cognitive enhancement therapy among adult schizophrenics. Her findings showed improved results in three areas of hope among graduates of the CET program: improvement in motivation/activity, increased self-esteem and self-confidence and improved cognition.

Sharon and Kathy would like to continue their research into this field of study using a rigorous qualitative study to determine the validity of the 3 areas of hope studied, to investigate the interaction between the 3, and to quantitatively investigate pre- and post- changes in these areas.
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