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HDFS 494 student Ganko named outstanding senior

Clayton Glazik
6/3/2014  8:00 am

Human & Community Development (HCD) junior Alison Ganko was one of four students to receive a departmental outstanding senior award this spring. Although only in her third year on campus, Ganko has senior standing because of the number of courses she has already completed.

“I didn’t even know I was eligible to receive this award,” Ganko said. “It was an honor, a lot of the people nominated were people I looked up to, so to be among them was very exciting.”

This past year, Ganko took the Family Resiliency Center’s course, HDFS 494, where she conducted research on the differences in mealtime duration between children who are perceived as picky and non-picky eaters. Under the guidance of Food Science and Human Nutrition faculty Sharon Donovan and Soo-Yeun Lee, Ganko and her fellow researchers observed children in three different mealtime setting: center-based daycare, home-based daycare, and the family home. Each participant was given a “popular” and a “non-popular” meal at each setting, and their parents and teachers were asked whether or not the child was picky with their food.

The hypothesis was that perceived picky eaters would take longer to eat, regardless of meal setting. However, Ganko found no correlation between picky eating and meal duration in any of the three settings regardless of what food the children ate. What she did conclude though, is that there was a shorter meal duration with picky eaters compared to the non-picky eaters. “It was very unique, compared to other courses. It was extremely hands on,” Ganko said about the HDFS 494 class.

Last year, Ganko helped HCD Professor Connie Shapiro create a new course on aging and adult development. She picked out the text book for the course and also taught a few lectures in the class. “I was really nervous at first, teaching students that are my age, but once I started, I found it to be very fun and an educational experience,” said Ganko, who learned a lot from Shapiro.

Outside of her class work, Ganko is an active leader and volunteer. She is the former president of the Human Interest and Professions (HIP) club, an HCD service organization. Ganko introduced four committees to the organization to streamline operations and significantly increased membership. In addition, Ganko organized volunteer opportunities with UC Books to Prisoners, a project that provides books to Illinois inmates. She is also currently a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity.

After graduation, Ganko plans on getting her masters degree at Illinois. Ultimately she wants to work in Human Resources “Being part of HCD has shown me a lot of unique challenges,” she said. “Each employee will come from different backgrounds and different families, so taking what I have learned I feel I will be able to cater to each person’s needs more effectively.”