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ULM Opportunity Fund awards $50K to nine projects

Published November 21, 2023

Opportunity Fund 2023

CAPTION: Recipients of the Opportunity Fund pose with President Berry. Pictured L-R: Paul Ware, Dr. Brice Jones, Molly Masters, Dr. Eric Siereveld, Dr. Heather Kennedy, Dr. Allison Wiedemeier, Krishna Patel, Dr. Kim Marie Tolson, President Ron Berry, Erick Burton, Dr. Jessica Dolecheck, Dr. Caroline Carpenter, Donna Glaze, Dr. Emilee Sasser, Dr. JoEllen Showers 

MONROE, LA – The University of Louisiana Monroe held a press conference on November 20, 2023, to announce the 2023-2024 awardees of the ULM Opportunity Fund. Nine projects were funded with a total of $50,000 after a review process conducted by the Opportunity Fund Committee.  

Allison Thompson, ULM Director of Institutional Effectiveness, is the Chair of the Opportunity Fund Committee. “President Ron Berry and Dr. Christine Berry started the ULM Opportunity Fund with a personal commitment of $100,000 to support a wide variety of activities not typically funded through traditional budgetary means,” said Thompson. “They wanted to remove obstacles for people creating life-changing opportunities for others. Other donors have graciously followed their lead and today we will be able to award $50,000 to nine projects through which ULM faculty, staff, and students will positively impact both our campus community and the surrounding region,” she added.  

“When Christine and I thought about this project, we hoped a day like today would come,” said President Berry. “Just hearing about these projects being funded makes me emotional, because each one of them is truly life-changing,” he stated.  

The 2023-2024 ULM Opportunity Fund recipients: 

Kaitlin Arnett, Director of Recruitment, will receive $6,000 to conduct ACT Prep Workshops for local high school students. Partnering with local high schools to ensure that students have the resources they need to succeed aligns directly with the University’s mission to change lives.  

Dr. Jessica Dolecheck, Director of the Health Studies Program, will receive $5,000 for the College of Health Sciences Professional Business Luncheon. This event offers students the invaluable opportunity to apply training in areas such as etiquette, workplace attitudes, and professionalism while engaging with College of Health Sciences alumni, healthcare professionals, and potential employers in their respective fields.  

Ms. Donna Glaze, Director of Nursing Technology and Dr. Caroline Carpenter, Associate Professor of Nursing, will receive $1,385 for the Kitty DeGree School of Nursing Virtual Dementia Tour. The Tour is scientifically proven to promote sensitivity and awareness in individuals caring for those with dementia. With the additional resources provided by the Opportunity Fund, KDSON will ensure students can deliver excellent person-centered care for this vulnerable population and their families.  

Dr. Brice Jones, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications, and the Office of Marketing and Communications staff will receive $6,900 to enhance the office's visual communications. The ULM Office of Marketing and Communications will use the award to purchase additional equipment to allow the staff to improve visual communications that tell the story that is ULM, reinforcing our mission and vision, and providing an inside look at the ways in which we are changing people’s lives every day on the bayou.  

Dr. Heather Kennedy, Field Experience and Residency Coordinator for the School of Education, will receive $7,990 to assist in the creation of an Interactive Model Classroom used by teacher candidates preparing for field experiences and residency. This classroom will allow faculty to model best practices for teaching and give teacher candidates authentic opportunities to put those skills to work in a classroom setting.  

Krishna Patel, a senior Health Studies student, will receive $4,000 for her Feminine Hygiene Accessibility Initiative. This initiative will assist ULM students in meeting their basic needs by providing feminine hygiene products in select restrooms on campus. Students can focus more on success in their courses and less on financial hardships they may incur by buying basic necessities.  

Dr. JoEllen Showers, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, and Dr. Emilee Sasser, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy, will receive $10,375 for Enhancing OT Services for Feeding Difficulties. This project will enhance services provided by the ULM Pediatric Occupational Therapy Clinic to children and adolescents with feeding difficulties as well as educate their caregivers/families.  

Dr. Eric Siereveld, Assistant Professor of Music, will receive $3,750 for the ULM Jazz Clinic and Festival. The event draws in students and jazz ensembles from surrounding areas and states to provide educational and culturally significant jazz experiences as well as an opportunity to perform in front of internationally acclaimed jazz musicians.

Dr. Kim Marie Tolson, Professor of Biology and Director of the ULM Museum of Natural History, and Dr. Allison Wiedemeier, Associate Professor of Biology, will receive $4,100 for the ULM Museum of Natural History K-8 STEM Discovery Boxes. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The funds will be used to create “Discovery Boxes” containing materials needed to instruct in-class STEM activities. Available to be “checked out” by teachers for a week, each box will contain the lesson plan and items necessary for teachers to conduct a grade-appropriate, hands-on science lesson in their classroom. 

The ULM Opportunity Fund awards funds for projects each year. The funded projects are selected by the Opportunity Fund committee after a review process. 

The 2023-2024 Opportunity Fund Committee is Allison Thompson, Chair, Director of Institutional Effectiveness; Seth Hall, Chief Strategy Officer; Dr. Ashanti Jones, Associate Program Director, Physical Therapy; Dr. Kioh Kim, Professor, School of Education; Carmen Wright, Director of Student Athlete Success; James Beinkemper, Benefits Specialist, Human Resources; Dr. Gina Craft, Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs and Assessment, College of Pharmacy; and Brandon Wilder, Financial Aid Counselor.  

For more information about The ULM Opportunity Fund, including how to donate or how to apply for future rounds of funding, click here.