Catching Katy

Reads, Eats, & Everything Else

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So What Do You Do?

This is a question we all have to answer – probably more than you realize. On average, due to the things I’m involved in and where I’m at in life, meeting new people pretty frequently, I answer this question at least once a week. And sometimes it’s telling someone again. I would be very interested to see how many of my friends could answer the question “What does Katy do?”. Not that they are bad friends or to accuse them of not caring – honestly, even I have trouble explaining what I do. But we recently acquired a visual that may help, so I thought I’d share.

Ultimately, the overarching goal of my office is to end child abuse and neglect. Each year, nationally, millions of reports are made to child protective services and thousands of children die due to maltreatment. Depressing, yes. But we are working to change that. Our office houses one of many parenting programs that teaches skills to parents to prevent maltreatment. I, specifically, am a research coordinator overseeing just one research project involving this program, and my project is looking at two of these parenting programs braided together and being delivered to parents in 3 states.

The video below shows a little history of these programs. My project braids our program, SafeCare (the green dot), and an older program, Parents as Teachers (the purple dot). All of these programs have their strengths and none is perfect, so we aim to give families the most comprehensive program possible. This still probably doesn’t fully explain what I do, hopefully it gives you an idea! And it’s just pretty cool to visually represent the rise of home-based models.

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Bad Meetings

Another TED talk I listened to recently. This is very funny, but also sadly accurate. David Grady is an information security manager. He first posted part of a talk on YouTube a few years ago acting out a bad (but typical) meeting (first video below). Then last year he gave a short and entertaining TED talk (second video below)

Unfortunately we all can relate to this and although it’s mostly humorous, he gives some good tips for productivity in the workplace. Enjoy!


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The War on Drugs

This is a very interesting TED Talk about the war on drugs – how it started, why drugs are illegal, and the current debated around legalizing some drugs. I’m not saying every drug should be legal, but there is something behind the notion that making something illegal makes it more lethal and dangerous (i.e. prohibition). Ethan Nadelmann is a drug policy reformer and founded the Drug Policy Alliance, and this is his powerful talk about the condition of the world of drugs.

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Ig Nobel Prize

In 1991, Marc Abrahams created the Ig Nobel Prize to recognize research that, according to Abrahams, “makes people laugh, then makes people think.” The best part is that the awards are handed out at the ceremony by actual Nobel Prize recipients. This is a pretty entertaining TED Talk, especially when he describes some of the winners of the award. I listened to this one but then had to actually watch the video because there are a lot of visuals. Enjoy!

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Exercise Perception

Another TED Talk listened to while running recently! Emily Balcetis, a social psychologist, looks at the factors that play into a person’s perception of exercise, which greatly influences their motivation to exercise. I am very lucky in that I am naturally motivated to exercise and be active (mainly running), but I know it does not come easy for a lot of people. Looking at physical markers (waist and hip size) as well as perception, Emily Balcetis discusses the factors that play into a person’s motivation to exercise.

The studies and results are interesting, but the main lesson learned is not necessarily that helpful – they learned that those people who kept their “eye on the prize” (i.e. focused on the finish line) viewed the distance to the finish line as shorter. But if you’re a trainer, for example, you can’t just tell your clients to focus on the finish line and expect their motivation to increase. It’s way more complicated than that.

But the ideas of varied perception are very interesting and have even been very relevant lately (dress being white/gold or black/blue). Knowing that people’s perception of exercise varies and knowing what factors correlate with different perceptions can be helpful to professionals who work with people in their plans for exercise and nutrition.

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College Culture

I know I don’t get into posts of a serious nature very often, but this past weekend, I watched in horror for an hour as 20/20 aired the story of the former Vanderbilt football players charged with rape and sexual assault. The show had acquired the security video footage from the dorm (where I actually lived my sophomore year on the same floor) on the night in question. To say it is disturbing is a gross understatement. And the two men on trial this time (two more are also charged) were both found guilty on multiple accounts.

I’m not going to go into the details of the case – my stomach can’t handle to think about the details – but this situation raises some serious questions. The only reason these men were charged were because the security footage from the dorm just happened to be reviewed for another, unrelated incident. The victim, sadly, had absolutely no recollection of anything that happened – and the main man was the guy she was dating, whom she trusted fully.

I applaud Vanderbilt for the way this situation was handled (at least to the extent I’m aware of, obviously). The men involved were removed from the football team and the university as soon as the realization of what happened came to light. The investigation was handed over to the Metro-Nashville Police Department as soon as foul play was suspected. Unfortunately this is not the norm. More often than not, females are assaulted, may or may not report the assault, and action may or may not be taken. This is a serious issue that college campuses need to address and need to address with more than a university review board. And the way to address this is not by simply “educating” females. Sure, education is helpful, but what about the men? Quotes such as this one by a writer from the Washington Times are absolutely enraging:

“One of the best ways to end sexual violence on campus is to teach women not to put themselves in a position where this can happen. Don’t drink to the point you are so intoxicated that you cannot protect yourself or you pass out.”

What about the men who drink to the point that they cannot control their actions, then use that, sometimes successfully, as an excuse? Or how about this girl who was with a guy she knew and trusted? I don’t have an answer. The obvious underlying issue, in this situation and many others that have been in the news recently, is alcohol, but we have to stop accepting the excuse that this is just college culture. And banning alcohol is not the solution – it’s actually an anti-solution.

Does it start with education from our parents, how we are raised? Is it education on the university side, on the greek life side or athletic side? Is it a combination of all of it or will none of it help? I truly wish I had an answer because I am tired of hearing these stories on the regular. The hope is that this case in Nashville (I refuse to keep calling it the ‘Vanderbilt rape case’) will set a new precedent for these crimes – guilty convictions, lives ruined, and serious jail time. One positive step – one of the guys is talking to Dr. Phil about this issue – this “culture.” It hasn’t aired yet, but it sounds like he’s being a man and not only owning up to his colossal mistake, but also trying to help others to not fall into the pits of this culture – but we’ll have to wait and watch.

The bottom line is that colleges and universities, along with the cities and towns in which they are located, better be working on some kind of solution and plan to address these issues or the news will sadly continue to be flooded with similar stories. And I pray that this does not become just another issue that the nation becomes immune to.

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Tennessee Kids

I have a pretty incredible friend named Ashley. I met her in college at Vanderbilt and since I have known her she has known her purpose in life (for which I am jealous!): to educate children as well as improve the education for children so that they might have an opportunity succeed. And she has always directed this passion to the schools that others have given up on. She was an excellent teacher in Nashville fresh from graduation and it took little time for her to be invited as a member of influential committees and eventually was selected as her school’s Teacher of the Year as well as the Tennessee Education Association’s Distinguished New Educator for Middle Schools. But she could not stop there. She was accepted to the school leadership program at Harvard Graduate School of Education (Ivy!!) and completed the program in 10 months while on sabbatical from her classroom position. I can honestly say I do not know another person in my generation with as much passion and devotion to their job as her.

Unfortunately, after completing this rigorous program and returning to Nashville with a passion and a plethora of ideas, Ashley is unable to be a licensed administrator in Tennessee. Having been born and raised in Tennessee, raised by a Tennessee educator, and educated in Tennessee public schools, this is extremely disheartening for her.

The current state laws require licensure candidates to meet one of two requirements to obtain a license: (1) attend 1 of 19 approved in-state institutions OR (2) serve as a principal in another state for 3 years. Nothing against Tennessee colleges, but that first option is leaving out a TON of nationally recognized and ranked programs (ahem – HARVARD). The second option requires someone to upend their whole life to move to a completely different state and find a new job. I personally think this is a tragedy.

So let’s do something about it. I do not live in Tennessee, but I love Tennessee as my own and, apart from this affecting my good friend, I think it’s only fair that Tennessee schools be able to choose from a pool of the most outstanding administrators to help provide a quality education for the kids. Every state should have that ability. This is not about getting my friend a job (in fact, her other main option is to move closer to me which I would love). This is truly to change the law in order to give all those who earn degrees in administration or school leadership the opportunity to apply for licensure in Tennessee if they want to. It really only makes sense. Sign the petition – do it for the kids.

Sign the petition!

Learn more about this issue and the petition