KOKOMO, Ind. — Collaboration and participation are at the heart of Angela Coppola’s teaching, research, and service philosophy.
Her dedication to serving through scholarship — and developing her Indiana University Kokomo students’ skills by involving them — earned her the 2021 Gerald Bepko Faculty Community Engagement Award, given by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE).
“What really drives my work is creating influential and mutually beneficial partnerships, where we learn from one another, support one another, and grow,” said Coppola, assistant professor of health sciences, and director of the Applied and Community Research Center (ACRC).
“That’s translated well to teaching and learning, as well as my service at IU Kokomo. I’m bringing my ideas and expertise to the table, along with my community partners, and we create and implement these initiatives.”
Through her campus and community partnerships, Coppola has developed research-based service-learning approaches, and co-created a children’s physical activity and development internship program at Bona Vista. She and her students have partnered with the Howard County Health Department for several projects, including exploring how to enhance harm reduction, publicize availability of overdose kits and implement syringe service programs, addressing the effects of the opioid epidemic in Indiana.
This kind of community engaged work is important for establishing the role of higher education in addressing community needs.
“It allows us to take a role in helping our community in whatever way we can, contributing to the greater good,” she said.
It also allows students to see how they can make a difference, even while learning how to be health education professionals.
“They are involved through their academics in helping our community thrive, which is a fantastic experience,” she said. “I think it gives them a lot of confidence in their belief that they have something valuable to contribute, which prepares them to be valuable partners or colleagues who help address larger issues in our state when they become professionals themselves.”
She noted that the award would not have been possible without support on campus and among her community partners. Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke and Mark Canada, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, have advocated for resources for community-engaged scholarship, and ACRC board members have helped faculty go from ideas to real projects. Jenny Cauthern, public health project coordinator for the Howard County Health Department, and Julie Petrowsky from Bona Vista Early Childhood Services, also played key roles.
“I’m grateful to honor them, because we share in this award,” she said.
The award was established in 2019 to honor the legacy of Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Bepko and his decades of service to Indiana University and ICHE.
“Recipients of this award are model faculty members who are contributing to the greater good of their communities and furthering the core principles of Indiana’s higher education system,” said Teresa Lubbers, Indiana commissioner for higher education.
“Dr. Coppola’s drive to ensure her students are receiving a rich educational experience paired with critical civic engagement opportunities is one of the many reasons she was selected as this year’s Gerald Bepko Faculty Community Engagement Award winner.”