Human development and family science alumna delivers inclusive education

Charlotte Klass '17
Charlotte Klass ’17

Inspired by her mother, Charlotte Klass ’17 discovered her career ambitions in teaching at a very young age. “As a child, my mom placed a huge emphasis on including others, no matter their ability. She requested that we were placed in classrooms that focused on inclusive education. She instilled in me a passion for helping others, one that eventually led me to want to become a teacher.”

When it came time for her to go to college, Klass chose Syracuse University at the recommendation of her brother, Max, an alumnus of the College of Engineering & Computer Science. “Human Development and Family Science interested me because it placed an emphasis on understanding how children learn and develop and how family life can influence a child’s development,” she says. “My family has had a huge impact on my life, and to find a major that allowed me to study child development and family dynamics brought everything full circle. HDFS was the perfect fit.”

HDFS majors like Klass gain practical experience in CFS 432 at the Bernice M. Wright (BMW) Child Development Laboratory School, which not only offers the community an accredited, inclusive early childhood education program, but also serves as a training facility for students. “I am a hands-on learner, I like to see what I am learning in the classroom applied to a real-life situation and CFS 432 did just that,” says Klass. “We would discuss different theories or lesson plan ideas, then that week have the opportunity to apply what we were learning in a real classroom.”

After taking an American Sign Language course, Klass was drawn to working with students who had hearing disabilities, so the opportunity to work at Jowonio, a leader in inclusive education, was “a dream come true,” she says. “In my placement classroom, we had a mixture of students with hearing disabilities, students with communication disorders, students with social disabilities and students without documented disabilities, all coexisting together.” There, all of the teachers used sign language when teaching, and as a result, all students were exposed to sign language.

“I watched the room use sign in conjunction with spoken language and saw how many students were naturally drawn to ASL,” Klass recalls. “Students who struggled with traditional means of communication would use sign language as a supplemental form of communication with teachers and it opened my eyes to the possibility that sign language isn’t just for those who can’t hear, but for all those who want to communicate.”

This insight served as a foundation for the inclusive literacy materials Klass wrote for Jowonio: a book that encourages all children, both deaf and hearing, to learn sign language. “We know that it is important to teach children with hearing disabilities sign language, but teaching students with hearing or speech disabilities to sign can also be beneficial. Sign language in the early childhood setting can allow for further communication between caregivers and children and help increase communication among students, peers, and caregivers.”

Observing the students’ growing desire to learn and use ASL was the most gratifying and inspirational part of Klass’ work, she says. “Children do not see disability the same way that adults do, and to watch these students recognize that someone was different and embrace that difference and attempt to communicate was truly inspiring.”

Klass starts her master’s program this summer in early childhood special education at the SU School of Education. “I hope to one day have a Kindergarten classroom to call my own. My dream is to create a classroom where students of all forms of ability can work and learn together,” she says. “Having studied child development, I understand that everyone learns differently, not just students with exceptionalities, and thus it doesn’t make a difference to me if you have a diagnosed disability or not, everyone will have an opportunity to learn in my classroom.”

“Falk College cares about their students, and you will graduate with a degree that has truly prepared you to work in the field,” says Klass. “From small classes with passionate professors who are leaders in the field, to community connections and incredible internship opportunities, I couldn’t be prouder to be a Falk College alumna.”

Congratulations Falk faculty!

Professors Ellen deLara and Mary Ann Middlemiss at Falk Convocation.
Professors Ellen deLara and Mary Ann Middlemiss at Falk Convocation.
Professor Sarah Short and Dean Diane Lyden Murphy at retirement celebration.
Professor Sarah Short and Dean Diane Lyden Murphy at retirement celebration. Photos courtesy of Prof. Alejandro Garcia.

Dean Murphy, along with Falk College faculty and staff, congratulate faculty who retired at the end of the 2016-17 academic year, including:

  • Ellen deLara, associate professor emerita, social work;
  • Mary Ann Middlemiss, associate professor emerita, public health, and;
  • Sarah Short, professor emerita, nutrition.

In May, the following faculty promotions were announced:

  • Lynn Brann, associate professor, Nutrition
  • Ambika Krishnakumar, professor, Human Development and Family Science
  • Katherine McDonald, professor, Public Health
  • Patrick Walsh, tenured and associate professor, Sport Management

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Dean Diane Lyden Murphy, along with the faculty and staff of Falk College, congratulates the Class of 2017! We are excited to see where your careers take you. Remember that you are “forever orange” and will always be a part of Falk College and Syracuse University.

We invite you to stay in touch and connect through social media, on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

As alumni, you will now receive FalkTalk, Falk College’s email newsletter for alumni, parents and friends. FalkTalk keeps you up-to-date with news headlines, student highlights, and upcoming events delivered to your inbox at the end of each semester.

Click here to learn how to stay connected to the ‘Cuse Community in regions all around the world. And please answer these quick questions on how to reach you after graduation.

We have many photos to share that recap some of the celebration events of this past week:

Check out more photos of commencement weekend on or on

Falk College honors faculty for excellence in service, research, teaching

Bruce Carter, Katherine McDonald, Gina Pauline named 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year

Faculty members from the Departments of Human Development & Family Science, Public Health, Food Studies & Nutrition, and Sport Management were honored for excellence in service, research and teaching with 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year Awards. The honorees, who are nominated by their peers for outstanding performance and contributions to students, Falk College, Syracuse University and beyond, were recognized by Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean. For more information about the teaching, research, service and scholarship activities of these honorees, visit

“It is with great joy that we honor professors Bruce Carter, Katherine McDonald, and Gina Pauline.,” says Diane Lyden Murphy. “Falk College is privileged to have faculty like these, who are truly dedicated to the success of our students. We appreciate their many contributions to their respective academic departments, as well as to the college and Syracuse University as a whole.”

Associate Professor Bruce Carter accepts 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for excellence in service with Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean, and Falk Endowed Professor of Practice Jennifer Wilkins.
Associate Professor Bruce Carter (middle) accepts 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for excellence in service with Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean (right), and Falk Endowed Professor of Practice Jennifer Wilkins (left). Photo credit: Alejandro Garcia, Jocelyn Falk Endowed Professor of Social Work
Associate Professor Katherine McDonald accepts 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for excellence in research with Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean, and Assistant Professor Deborah Coolhart.
Associate Professor Katherine McDonald (middle) accepts 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for excellence in research with Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean (right), and Assistant Professor Deborah Coolhart (left). Photo credit: Alejandro Garcia, Jocelyn Falk Endowed Professor of Social Work
Associate Professor Gina Pauline accepts 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for excellence in teaching, is applauded by Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean.
Associate Professor Gina Pauline accepts 2017 Falk College Faculty of the Year Award for excellence in teaching, is applauded by Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean. Photo credit: Alejandro Garcia, Jocelyn Falk Endowed Professor of Social Work

Human Development and Family Science students inducted into Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society 2017

The students inducted into the honor society include: (L to R) Erin Brill, Kylie Honigfeld, Emma Simches, Denisse Ortiz and Noelle Rowe. Not included in the picture also inducted: Alison Ebert, Emilie Ricco, Elizabeth and Juliannah Vining.
The Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) honored nine high-achieving students in an induction ceremony of the Kappa Omicron Nu, Omicron Alpha Iota Chapter held on March 31, 2017. These Seniors ranked among the best in scholarship, leadership, and research in the department. Kappa Omicron Nu recognizes students who use an integrative approach to enhance quality of living and support academic excellence while promoting the ideals of service and leadership. Dr. D. Bruce Carter, associate professor and Kappa Omicron Nu advisor, inducted this year’s nominees.

Falk student leads summer camp for children of parents with cancer

Discouraged, frightened, alone. These feelings are an everyday reality for children whose parents have cancer. Sometimes what they need most is a friend who understands. Camp Kesem aims to be that friend. Founded in 2000, the national organization includes 86 chapters of student-run summer camps across the U.S. that support children facing parental diagnosis and parental loss due to cancer. It provides a one-week camp experience and a year-round support network of peers fighting the same battle. Syracuse University’s chapter was founded in 2012.

This year, 19 campers experienced Camp Kesem at Syracuse University, thanks to the efforts of approximately 25 student volunteers, including child and family studies major Anna Olson ’19.

“I wholeheartedly understand how it feels to have a family member undergoing treatment,” says Olson. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed when Olson was sixteen. This trying experience is what motivated Olson to pursue a career as a child life specialist. “I chose this path in life to help families like mine and children like me to deal with the hardships of having a sick family member or being sick themselves,” she explains.

As co-directors of Camp Kesem at Syracuse University, Olson and Abigail Hamilton ‘19, marketing and political science dual major, oversee an executive board of student volunteers. “Anna and her student team organize this week-long summer camp, which includes obtaining medical professionals, training counselors, obtaining donations, and camper recruitment,” said Camp Kesem at Syracuse University faculty advisor Colleen Cameron, CCLS, M.Ed., a professor of practice in Falk College’s Department of Human Development and Family Science. “It is quite an accomplishment—Anna took this task on as a freshman.”

Together, Olson and her team create an incredible week for the campers, including messy games, a major food fight and paint war, “a Camp Kesem staple,” Olson says. “It is definitely the most fun part of camp.” Cancer can make a child grow up fast, she says, but at camp, they get to just be kids, surrounded by others who fully understand the struggles they are going through.

Olson explains that her responsibilities as co-director have taught her how to work with different personalities, communicate effectively and sensitively, and also ensure that every voice in the group is heard. “Most importantly, co-directing has made me even more dedicated to my major and what I am headed towards in the future,” she says.

“At the end of the day,” she adds, “I just look at my fellow classmates that I work with, who I now consider my family; and I look at pictures of the smiling faces on all our beautiful and inspiring campers, and I just feel so incredibly blessed and grateful to be a part of this organization.”

Camp Kesem is one of the 2017 Orange Circle Award recipients, which recognize exceptional philanthropic work through financial contribution or volunteerism. Camp Kesem is currently recruiting Syracuse University student volunteers for next year’s camp. Interested students may visit or contact for more information on how to get involved.

Falk student-athlete named ACC Player of the Year

Alexis Peterson
Alexis Peterson, ACC Player of the Year. Courtesy Syracuse University Athletics.
Courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics. Original article published here.

Peterson Named ACC Player of the Year

Peterson led the league in scoring during the regular season

Senior guard Alexis Peterson has been recognized as the 2017 Blue Ribbon Panel Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, the league announced on Tuesday morning. Peterson is the first player in Syracuse women’s basketball history to earn conference player of the year honors.

A child and family studies major in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, Peterson has put together an impressive list of accolades this year. She is finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, on the midseason watch lists for the Naismith Trophy, Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, Dawn Staley Award, and Wooden Award, and was on the watch list for the Wade Trophy.

Peterson averaged 23.6 points, 7.2 assists, and 3.1 steals per game during the 2016-17 regular season. The Columbus, Ohio native led the conference in scoring in all games played and paced the league in assists and steals in ACC contests. She set the Syracuse single-season scoring record with 683 points. In addition, she set a program record with four conference player of the week honors.

The senior guard scored an Orange single-game record 45 points in a victory against NC State on Jan. 12. It marked the most points scored by an individual, male or female, in the history of the Carrier Dome.

In 130 games played in her collegiate career, Peterson has scored 1,890 points, which ranks second in program history. She has dished out 567 assists in her time on campus, seven shy of matching the top mark in Syracuse women’s basketball history. Peterson and Washington’s Kelsey Plum are the only two active players in the country with at least 1,800 points scored and 500 assists.

The No. 21/20 Orange open ACC Tournament action on Thursday night when they take on the winner of North Carolina and Pittsburgh. The second-round contest will tipoff at 8 p.m. at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C. The game will be shown locally on tape delay on the YES Network and will available live on ACC Network Extra.

For the latest news on the Syracuse women’s basketball program, follow on @CuseWBB on Instagram, and @CuseWBB on Twitter.

Be a part of the 2017-18 season, order season tickets today! $75 for general admission and $125 for courtside tickets. One can purchase tickets here.

Human Development and Family Science prepares students with experiential learning

Collaborative Concert with CVPA Students & Preschoolers from Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School
Collaborative Concert with CVPA Students & Preschoolers from Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School
Falk College students in CFS 325: Children and Families in Health Care Settings study theories and practices of recreational, developmental, and educational programs for children and families in the pediatric care setting under the instruction of certified child life specialist and human development and family science (HDFS) professor of practice Colleen Cameron. Her students may go on to work in health care as child life specialists, physician assistants, even play, speech, or rehabilitation therapists, however, there is a much greater depth of career opportunities for these aspiring professionals.

Some alumni take administrative or teaching roles in early childhood or special education, others may enter social services as counselors, programmers. Some accept government opportunities in legislation, advocacy, and protective agencies. Still others enter the field of communications in journalism or public relations.

Cameron currently sits on the Child Life Council’s (CLC) Undergraduate Endorsement Review Committee, responsible for reviewing the quality of undergraduate child life academic programs at the national and international level. In August, she attended the CLC Academic and Clinical Preparation Summit in Detroit, Michigan as one of 60 committee members to discuss topics impacting child life students, academic institutions, interns, internship programs, and the workforce as a whole.

Academic institutions face a serious task to prepare students for vital roles in a variety of professional sectors. Experiential learning, or “hands-on learning,” is one of the key differentiating factors for Falk College’s academic programs in HDFS.

HDFS students have access to Falk’s on-campus teacher training facility, the Bernice M. Wright (BMW) Child Development Laboratory School, which offers early childhood education programming accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children to the Syracuse community and supports research regarding early childhood education.

In addition, all HDFS students complete a two-semester, 180-hour practicum in an area agency or organization. A portion of the practicum includes a weekly seminar surveying the various professional roles that exist in human services.

With a deeper understanding of children and families in the context of a range of community, educational and social services settings, Falk’s comprehensive approach gives students a competitive edge as they enter the workforce.

Carter appointed to Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights

Professor Bruce Carter
Professor Bruce Carter
Onondaga County Executive Joanne M. Mahoney has appointed Professor Bruce Carter as a Commissioner on the Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights. The term runs through December 2018. The Commission promotes understanding and acceptance of diversity, facilitates intergroup communication, identifies and addresses sources of intergroup tension and conflict, reduces conditions that can lead to discrimination and restrict opportunity, and provides related education, information and referral. In addition to his role on the faculty of the Department of Human Development and Family Science and the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Carter is a facilitator for the Community Wide Dialogues on Race and Racism and a facilitator for the CARE Dialogue Program at Syracuse University. Read more about Dr. Carter.

Read more about the Human Rights Commission.

Falk Ph.D. student research fills critical data need on U.S. family medical leave policies

Woosang Hwang
Woosang Hwang
The late 1990s brought an economic recession to South Korea that would turn tradition on its head. Previously, fathers held jobs and mothers raised the children at home. The recession thrust many mothers into the workplace while middle and high schoolers like Woosang Hwang adjusted to a new home life. It’s what prompted him to study family policy and issues affecting dual-income families.

As a doctoral candidate in human development and family science, Hwang’s dissertation examines the effects of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) on dual-income families in the United States. The FMLA allows eligible employees to take job-protected leave for specified reasons. However, parental leave is just 12 weeks and is unpaid. “Three months is not enough for both father and mother to take care of their children, compared to European countries that provide more than 180 days or six months,” argues Hwang.

He has been investigating this issue since 2015 under the advisement of Dr. Eunjoo Jung, associate professor of human development and family science at Falk College.

“The findings of Hwang’s project will provide theoretical and empirical evidence for both policy and academic fields to evaluate the current maternity leave policy in the United States,” says Jung. “His research is already assisting us to understand the status and challenges of low fertility, employed women, and intergenerational family relations. “This line of work has great promise to help us understand how we can prevent the lost potential in children and families in various contexts around the world.”

Hwang’s dissertation, “The Impacts of the Family and Medical Leave Act on Second-Birth Intentions: An Actor-Partner Interdependence Model,” will be recognized with the Feldman Outstanding Research Proposal for Research in Family Policy award at the 2016 National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference November 2-5 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he will also receive an Issues in Aging Focus Group award for his work with the Syracuse University Aging Studies Institute on “Religious Discordance between Adult Children and Their Parents: Consequences for Intergenerational Solidarity across Several Decades.”

Hwang describes an unpaid leave scenario in which a parent is forced to reduce the family budget and therefore feels pressured to return to work sooner rather than later. Furthermore, employees are often concerned that parental leave will negatively impact their career by putting them at a disadvantage for promotions or wage increases. It creates what Hwang describes as an “internal conflict” that is not good for the parent or the child.

Hwang’s research shows that when mothers utilize maternity leave, the children demonstrate better developmental outcomes. “[Parents] can take care of their children from birth to three months or six months,” says Hwang. “That is a very critical period.”

The U.S. trails behind many nations as far as family leave policy, Hwang says. “To change policymakers’ and politicians’ attitudes and get them to think about this policy, then researchers should provide a lot of empirical evidence,” Hwang explains. Unlike European nations, the U.S. has very few empirical studies regarding this topic, and what research does exist is based on outdated data collected in the mid-1990s. “That data cannot represent today’s dual-income families’ attitudes and behaviors regarding the policy,” adds Hwang.

The U.S. fertility rate has steadily declined from 1960 to 2015. But today, Hwang notes, the drop has become alarmingly sharp among employed women, a trend that could greatly impact the economy as the U.S. labor population decreases and the aging population and expectant lifespan continue to increase.

Hwang believes that revising the FMLA to incorporate extended, paid parental leave is the first step to altering the perception of parental leave. A revised policy, Hwang hopes, will change employers’ mindsets, thus allowing employees to take leave free of concern. Parents will no longer have to choose between their family and their job, which will ultimately benefit the parent, child, and society as a whole.