In a project to address opioid addiction among pregnant women, Ball State University junior Gwyneth Harris of Portland, Indiana, is working to make connections within the Muncie community to provide a healthy and safe environment for these expectant mothers.

“This is bigger than a class project,” Harris said. “It’s something that can have an impact on the community. It’s preparing me for real-world work, where consequences are more than just a grade.”

Harris is collaborating with her classmates to analyze data and create questions to pose to community members to assess the current resources for pregnant women with opioid addiction and discover where gaps exist.

Harris is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in two majors, anthropology and history with a concentration in public history. She hopes that this project makes a positive impact within the Muncie community. The project, mentored by Dr. Caitlyn Leonardson-Placek, has given her an opportunity to work within the community and to collaborate with teammates to create a successful final product: a photo-voice display that the students can present at various community events.

“Ultimately, we want to use our data to create a product that will inform the Delaware County community about maternal substance abuse,” Harris said. “I hope that we can tackle the stigma that prevents women from seeking the treatment they need.”

Harris, who is set to graduate in 2020, plans to go back to school to get a master’s degree and possibly a doctorate. She would love to teach at the university level. Harris never wants to stop learning and hopes to share that passion with future generations.

“Ball State has provided me with a fulfilling present and a promising future,” Harris said. “It is very empowering to see real results from my hard work, and I’m amazed how every semester provides something new and engaging to work on.”

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