Audience at this year's Immersive Learning Student Showcase await the announcement of the 2023 Outstanding Local Community Partner Award.The winner of the 2023 Outstanding Local Community Partner Award is IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.

Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns presented the award May 1 as part of the Immersive Learning Showcase at the Student Center.

This annual award is given to an organization that has demonstrated excellence as a collaborator and co-educator with Ball State faculty, staff, and students.

“It’s an incredible recognition of work our team does in partnership with Ball State University,” said Dr. Jeff Bird, President of IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. “We value that relationship so much.”

In nominating IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation (BMH-CR) for this award, Tonya Skalon, associate lecturer in the School of Kinesiology at Ball State University, said: “Students get to do what they’ve learned in class and apply it in a real setting, not just observe what’s being done. The interns are part of the team.”

And leading the BMH-CR team are IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital employees Anna Taylor and Katrina Riggin – who were on hand with several other supporters from the hospital – to receive the award.

President Mearns stands at a podium beside a screen that reveals this year's award winnersBMH-CR provides valuable internship placements for exercise science students and other students seeking experience in related fields. These students are provided opportunities to make clinical observations throughout the hospital, to work in specialized settings, and to assist with various administrative roles and responsibilities.

Skalon said that Taylor and Riggin go “above and beyond” to help the students.

But, Taylor said, the students “help us too.”

Riggin agreed. “They bring fresh eyes to what we do here,” she added.

Dr. Wayne Gray, who founded the Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program in 1976 and currently serves as its medical director, said it was great to see the internship program receive recognition.

“And it’s great for us to be able to offer students an opportunity to learn about what’s going on in the real world, outside the classroom.”

It’s a partnership Mearns said he hopes continues for years to come.

“I am grateful to BMH-CR for providing such rewarding internship opportunities to our students,” Mearns said. “And I am pleased at how this partnership has led to career opportunities for our graduates as well.

“Since 2005, 35 students who interned with BMH-CR have been hired to work at an IU Health facility, several down the street at Ball Memorial Hospital.”