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How to protect your family from horrific news images – and still stay informed

Arash Javanbakht, associate professor of psychiatry and the director of the Stress, Trauma, and Anxiety Research Clinic at Wayne State University, wrote an article explaining how images of disaster affect us and provides some practical tips about how to stay informed while minimizing harm. “A wide of body of evidence has shown that trauma affects not only those who suffer through it; it also affects other people who are exposed to the suffering in other ways. This is in part because humans are empathetic and social beings. Indirect and vicarious exposure to trauma often occurs in the lives of first responders, refugees, journalists and others, event when they do not directly experience the trauma themselves,” Javanbakht writes. He provides a list of tips to stay informed while minimizing harm, including limited exposure and emotional intensity from media, time away from the news, an awareness of positive news, finding activities that allow for emotional recharging, and talking to others. “We can also reduce the negative impact on ourselves through helping others, especially those affected by these calamities. When I feel affected by the traumatic experiences of my patients, remembering that the end goal is helping them and reducing their sufferings helps me process my feelings. Sadness, anxiety, anger, and frustration can be channeled into actions such as attending fundraising activities and volunteering to help the victims. This can even be a family activity that teaches children a mature and altruistic response to others’ suffering,” said Javanbakht.
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Wayne State University to honor Stevie Wonder at May commencement

Wayne State University announced that Stevie Wonder will receive an honorary degree at the school’s May 7 commencement at 1 p.m. He will receive the Doctor of Human Letters in recognition of his contributions as a musician and advocate for civil rights and the disabled community. More than 3,200 students have applied for graduation this spring. Commencement will feature seven ceremonies over three days: May 6, 7, and 8.  
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Michigan poised to have advantage as demand grows for EV jobs, experts

Detroit is the Motor City and as a result, change is speeding toward us fast. We are witnessing a historic shift toward electric vehicles. There is no doubt rapid technological change will impact the lives of many. Some jobs will go away, by many will also be created. As electrification decreases demand for internal combustion engine vehicles, some jobs will over time become obsolete. There is not a clear picture of how fast this will happen and whether the number of jobs needed in electrification will outnumber them regionally. The globe is competing for the new jobs. The idea is knowing that change can be empowering. “The state leadership is thinking ahead of many other states, so I’m happy and proud to see this,” said Weisong Shi, an associate dean at the Wayne State University College of Engineering and a computer scientist. Shi says Michigan’s Office of Mobility, created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, may give the Motor City a big advantage as it works to coordinate between companies, educators and other stakeholders to bring businesses here as we shift not just to electric, but also autonomous vehicles. Shi says computer science graduate students are getting multiple opportunities above six figures. The university works to have partnerships with many industries in its lab to give students many opportunities, but companies still ask for exclusivity.  
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Michigan public colleges work to plug pandemic 'leaks' that hit enrollment

n the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan's public higher education institutions have found themselves in a landscape rife with challenges, some long-anticipated, others entirely now. Enrollment in Michigan's public institutions overall took a downward turn during the pandemic, dropping 6.24% between fall 2019, when 280,490 students enrolled, and fall 2021 when 262,985 students enrolled. The landscape of higher education has changed, including class modality. Despite a push for in-person classes, assistant dean Kiantee Rupert-Jones said remote and hybrid classes will remain at the university's Mike Ilitch School of Business due to student demand. "Our students are usually working full time or have family obligations. So they're looking for flexibility and online and hybrid classes," she said. "And so at the graduate level, that's what we're offering, because we'll see an even greater decline in our enrollment if we don't offer that type of flexibility." Wayne State University bumped tuition for first-year undergraduates by 3.83%  for the 2021-22 school year after freezing tuition for 2020-21. Annual tuition for lower-division resident undergraduates at WSU for 2021-22 was $14,043. "It was a priority for us to keep any increase to the lowest level possible while not jeopardizing academic and student resources and investment," said Mark Kornbluh, Wayne State's provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. "Also, there was a significant increase in financial aid over this period." Between 2020 through 2022, WSU increased its commitment to financial aid by $16.6 million dollars, an increase of 21%. 
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Truckers hope bill brings long-sought overtime pay to their field

By Jessica Wehrman  Much of a trucker’s day is spent waiting to drop off and deliver goods, and many are paid by the miles driven, rather than hours worked. As a result, drivers who spend four or five hours waiting to deliver or pick up cargo are often not paid for those hours. All of this is perfectly legal. The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay workers time-and-a-half for more than 40 hours worked, carved out an exemption for truck drivers. But a bipartisan bill in the House aims to eliminate that exemption. The bill would repeal the motor carrier exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act, allowing truck drivers to be compensated for all the hours they work. The bill has no counterpart in the Senate and would face an uphill battle. Michael Belzer, a professor of economics at Wayne State University, cautions that companies will likely fight the idea of paying overtime. “Consumers will consume an infinite amount of free goods,” he said, arguing that companies have treated much of drivers’ time as free for years.  

Michigan Legacy Credit Union partners with Wayne State University Institute of Gerontology to fight financial exploitation of vulnerable adults

Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU) has announced a pilot program with Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology to help protect its vulnerable members from financial exploitation. New members of the credit union age 50 and up are automatically offered the Financial Vulnerability Survey – and dozens have taken it thus far. Their scores are included in a database to help monitor these members’ accounts for abnormal financial activity. All MCLU credit union staff participated in multiple training sessions with Wayne State on the survey and learned how to identify and discuss cognitive risk factors before exploitation occurs. As a result of this training, staff members have already been able to address several cases of older financial exploitation. The Financial Vulnerability Survey (FVS) is one of several tools created by Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology, to combat fraud and financial exploitation in older adults. “The FVS is easy to understand and to complete,” Lichtenberg said. “It resonates with older people who are concerned about their financial decision making. Finances are often a taboo topic for discussion, yet people are hungry for information about their own financial vulnerability level.” 
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Law student awarded Women Lawyers Association of Michigan scholarships

Wayne State University Law School student Fatima Dakroub recently received the Dickinson Wright Scholarship from the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) Foundation and the Kaminski Law Scholarship from WLAM-Wayne Region. The scholarships are awarded to law students who demonstrate leadership capabilities in advancing the position of women in society, in business, and in the community. “I am honored to be selected as a recipient of these scholarships,” Dakroub, a rising 3L, said. “I never thought I would enjoy transactional work, but  I am grateful that I came to Wayne Law with an open mind and ready to explore every facet of the law in an environment that fosters my personal and professional growth.” 
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Colleges look to attract older students

Colleges are testing new tactics to increase the number of adult learners in the classroom after years of a downturn in enrollment. Postsecondary enrollment in Michigan declined by 1.7%, or 7,463 students, in fall 2021. From fall 2019 to 2020, enrollment dropped 9.2%, or 44,578 students, according to estimates by National Student Clearinghouse. The problem isn’t limited to traditional college-age students because students 24 and older experienced the sharpest relative enrollment decline. Many universities and community colleges are making efforts to reduce those numbers and, in the process, designing ways to meet the needs of older learners, such as child care options and advising services. At Wayne State University, the Warrior Way Back program is aimed at re-enrolling adult learners with some previous education. Amber Neher, adviser for the program, said that having a dedicated support team has made all the difference for adult learners once they are on campus. “We developed a strong team, including adult learner advisers, an adult learner career coach, and an adult learner liaison, so there are some folks who are specific to adult learners,” Neher said.   
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‘Doxxing’ means whatever you want it to

By Kaitlyn Tiffany    The internet is a powerful machine for twisting the meaning of language. A new word gets pushed through various subcultures that use it for their own purposes, then out to broader audiences that will use it in whichever way they first hear it. ‘Doxxing’ is a special example, in that it originally referred to somewhat specific, dangerous, and unethical behavior — “dropping documents” — or making private information public and calling unfriendly attention to it. By naming that behavior, the word allowed for the development of shared norms against it on the nascent internet. But ‘doxxing’ has since been used to describe so many different situations – with varying degrees of sincerity and fairness – that its original utility has faded. Where the term once defined a category, it now expresses an emotion. Whoever feels doxxed will claim to have been doxxed. Any time a person’s information is “purposefully moved, lifted, and repurposed in other spaces” without their consent, that could be called “doxing,” according to Stine Eckert, an associate professor of communication at Wayne State University who has written about the history of doxxing. There is “usually an element of bad intentions,” she said.   
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Why do we freeze under pressure?

Anyone can choke under pressure, as evidenced by a seemingly simple puzzle on “Wheel of Fortune” that stumped two players who have faced ridicule online. Physical and mental tasks you normally perform with ease become challenging under pressure, which comes from people watching, big rewards or losses at stake, fear of judgment, or even your own memories. Under stress, working memory is disrupted by external factors, like an audience, time pressure, or potential embarrassment. The clutter interferes with the prefrontal cortex’s communication with the rest of the brain. “Humans really only have one way of dealing with stress, and that’s our ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ reflex,” said Seth D. Norrholm, a professor of psychiatry at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine. “…Your body doesn’t discriminate between a game show versus a predator. It’s just going to kick in the responses inborn within us.”   
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Bank of America funds electric vehicles and expansion for Wayne Health Mobile Unit

Wayne State University and Wayne Health, its affiliated physician practice group, have received a $900,000 grant from Bank of America to strengthen the Wayne Health Mobile Unit (WHMU) program. The innovative fleet of health delivery vehicles was established in partnership with Ford X in April 2020 to deliver COVID-19 testing, education, and vaccinations to underserved populations in Detroit. The support from Bank of America will provide two fully outfitted electric vehicles from Ford Motor Company that will bring preventative health care to Detroit workers in an environmentally sustainable way. The new electric Ford Transit vehicles will make regular site visits to an estimated 16-20 small- and medium-sized businesses in Detroit through partnerships between Wayne Health, the businesses, and their health insurance providers – offering comprehensive or preventative health care services to thousands of workers. Each mobile unit will function as a mobile clinical setting with an examination and consultation area and a telehealth component. The funding from Bank of America will support the purchase of the vehicles, along with three years of personnel, medical supplies and vehicle maintenance. “We are helping businesses help their workers and with these new electric vehicles, we are doing so with a small environmental impact,” said Phillip Levy, M.D., M.P.H., project lead for the WHMU program as well as Wayne Health’s chief innovation officer. “Healthier workers mean healthier business, which translates to greater economic health for the Detroit region. We are grateful to Bank of America for helping us move from crisis response to destination care, and for giving these businesses the capacity to offer high-quality, affordable health care for their workers.”  
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Steady influence: Book traces history of Wayne Law by focusing on the school’s students

Most histories of law schools focus on the notable deans and professors, and the changes in curricula over time. In “Detroit’s Wayne State University Law School: Future Leaders in the Legal Community,” author Alan Schenk highlights the students and their influence on the school’s development, character, and employment opportunities. Schenk, a longtime professor at Wayne State Law School, has devoted his academic career to tax law and is regarded as an expert on value added taxation. His decision to write a book about the law school stemmed from a question posed by his wife, Betty, in the fall of 2014 when she asked him if he was the longest serving faculty member there. “When I determined that I was, I started reminiscing about my years at Wayne, my students, my colleagues, and the law school administration,” Schenk wrote in the preface to the book. “I taught at almost a dozen law schools and I always returned to Wayne – for two important reasons. First, I was treated well at Wayne and there is a tendency to return to a place that treats you well. Second, and more importantly, Wayne students were special. I enjoyed teaching them more than the students I taught at other law schools.”  
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Rethinking your drinking

Thirty-five years after the federal government created a public health campaign to raise awareness of a growing epidemic of alcoholism in the U.S., the problem became more pronounced, especially among young women, during the pandemic. Figures from Nielsen report national alcohol sales surged 54% in March 2020. April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, an opportunity to reexamine your relationship with alcohol, said Erika Bocknek, an associate professor of counseling psychology at Wayne State University. “It’s a moment to step back and reflect before your drinking gets out of hand,” she said. The first step to evaluating your drinking is to ask yourself why you’re having a drink, Bocknek said. “Alcohol plays a pervasive role in our culture, so it’s easy to make drinking issues seem less problematic. It’s important to remember that the problem can be invisible…The reason alcohol works as a coping strategy is because it dulls your senses and forces you to relax,” Bocknek said.  
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Panel: With infrastructure funding available, communities need to ‘use it smartly’

Researchers from the University Research Corridor (URC) with local officials Monday to discuss ways to address the storm-related home flooding experienced in Detroit and other southeast Michigan cities, months after the second “500 year rain event” in seven years left thousands in the region with drowned basements and downed power lines. Experts from the University Research Corridor gathered on the Wayne State University campus to present research on updating outdated infrastructure to make communities more resilient in the face of extreme weather events that are exacerbated by climate change. “The problem is that we’re impoverishing people that are already at the edge of poverty in a series of Detroit communities,” said Lyke Thompson, director of Wayne State’s Center for Urban Studies. The URC works with industries like infrastructure, water, and mobility.  “We know that water always wins, as it has the time and energy to find the paths of least resistance, which are often our basements or other infrastructure,” said William Shuster, chair of the Wayne State University civil and environmental engineering department. “We need to respond to the way that water plays this game and give it other options.” The money for necessary large-scale infrastructure repair is available to Michigan and should be used to mitigate future impacts of severe weather, according to Britany Affolter-Caine, executive director of the URC. “We are in a unique time in where we’re getting a ton of money and communities are sort of staring down at an influx of infrastructure dollars and COVID dollars,” said Affolter-Caine. “…We have to use it smartly.”  
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Wayne Mobile Health Unit brings equality to life expectancy

The team at Wayne Health knows to break the cycle of health disparities in Black and brown communities, they must take their tools on the road. For more than a year, the Wayne Health mobile unit has broken down the barriers to healthcare access in Detroit's Black neighborhoods, providing COVID vaccines, heart health awareness, and other services. Dr. Philip Levy, a professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president for translational science and clinical research innovation at Wayne State and chief innovation officer for Wayne State University Physician Group, said that his team has noticed that nearly 7 out of of every 10 visitors has elevated blood pressure. "Most of the folks have pretty profound hypertension, and a lot of them fall into the category of stage 2 hypertension, which is advanced hypertension that we need to do something about as soon as possible," said Dr. Levy. This summer, Wayne Health will officially being its Achieve Greater initiative, which will provide Detroiters with the resources to manage their health. After one visit with the mobile health unit, all other follow ups are done remotely. Wayne Health is partnering with a number of church groups, recreation centers, and other community groups to connect with more residents. Dr. Levy said the life expectancy of a Detroiter is up to 15 years less than Michigan's average life expectancy of 77.7 years, and that deaths linked to heart disease jumped 25-30% during the pandemic. Wayne Health wants to help future generations of Black families live longer. "Ultimately, we want everyone in the state, and especially in the City of Detroit and the Black community, to live as many years as everyone else," Dr. Levy said. 
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Wayne State University to host day for children with incarcerated parents

By Sarah Rahal  A community event is inviting children with an incarcerated parent to Wayne State University’s campus for a day of fun and exploration. Families of Future Warriors, the first-of-its-kind event at the university, will bring together families on April 23 for planetarium shows, science demonstrations, a tour of the Midtown campus and lunch at Towers Café. The event is designed for children ages 8-15. “Incarceration impacts millions of children across the country including those in metro Detroit,” said Stephanie Hartwell, dean of Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Oftentimes these children do not have access to family events.” Families of Future Warriors will showcase the university’s exhibits and aims to connect like-minded families. They’ll start at WSU’s Old Main and be welcomed by author Darryl Woods, a motivational speaker whose father was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison when Woods was a year old.  

Mobile Health Clinics reach vulnerable MI communities

By Lily Bohlke  An analysis of mobile health clinics launched in the Detroit metro area during the pandemic finds it’s a model that can deliver health screenings and health care and could be replicated in other communities. The Wayne Health Mobile Units are specially equipped vans with medical equipment and professionals. They began as testing sites for front-line workers in the early days of COVID-19, out of a partnership between Wayne State University and Ford Motor Co. Over time, they transitioned to what Dr. Phillip Levy, a professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president for translational science and clinical research innovation at Wayne State and chief innovation officer for Wayne State University Physician Group, called a “vision of patient-centric, portable population health.” “If they have comorbidities and need doctors’ appointments or health care,” said Levy, who runs the program, “can we provide linkages around that? If they have food insecurity, can we help them get food access so that we can really be delivering on the holistic approaches that are needed in order to keep this person healthy and avoid complications?” Appointments are not necessary, and they don’t require insurance or identification – which can be barriers to care. Levy added that bringing care into communities also reduces the barriers of transportation time and cost. Beyond testing and treatment for COVID, Levy said the Mobile Health Units do blood screenings for high cholesterol, diabetes, and kidney disease, and provide prevention infrastructure – as well as blood pressure screenings for hypertension. Levy said they are also building out HIV screening and treatment, and have started working with the state’s needle-exchange program.  
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Family travels to Chicago to find infant formula amid nationwide shortages

By Kiara Hay  A nationwide infant formula shortage has families in metro Detroit struggling to feed their babies. Empty shelves and signs rationing out supplies is a sight many have not seen since the early days of the pandemic. But moms across metro Detroit say it’s a constant crisis. Moms are struggling to find sensitive-stomach and lactose-free formulas, and some are relying on limited doctors’ samples or cans brought from relatives out-of-state. “We had a bad situation with access to baby formula before, and the recall by Abbott only made it worse,” said Kevin Ketels, an associate professor at the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. Ketels says a massive federal recall earlier in the year is one of the causes for the empty shelves, with 31% of formula products being out of stock across the country. According to Ketels, Abbott has begun airlifting formula products to the states to fill the gap, and other companies are looking at ways to stretch the supply. But he said the solution could take weeks, not months. “Hopefully, the company can ramp up production quickly and we can avoid the severe shortages that we have right now, but we ill not be able to escape the general shortages just because of the pandemic.” 
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Inflation hits 40-year high, but it’s not necessarily all bad news

By Kim Russell  The Consumer Price Index is out for March, putting the inflation we are seeing into numbers. First, the bad news: If you are one of the 1% of Michiganders who use fuel oil to heat your home, turn down your thermostat or you will be spending 70.1% more than a year ago. The cost of filling up your gas tank in March was 48% more than a year ago, and food prices are up about 8.8%. Overall, in the last year, the all items index increased 8.5%, the largest spike since 1981. “It is a little bit scary,” said professor Kevin D. Cotter, Wayne State University department of economics chair. Cotter says while there is reason to be concerned, it is not all bad news. “Food and energy costs have been bumping up largely because of the war and they almost certainly are going to come back down,” said Cotter. If you exclude historically volatile food and energy prices, inflation has moderated. “If you look at, for example, medical costs, those go up but they don’t go down, so the fact those aren’t going up so much is good news. The things that are going up the most are the things that go down just as easily,” said Cotter. Cotter says the pandemic continues to cause inflation, but there is also reason for some optimism that the Federal Reserve might be able to manage inflation without causing a recession. “The things that would lead to a recession, a drop in consumer demand or job losses, we are seeing the opposite right now,” Cotter said.