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Nursing and Women’s Health

“Let us never consider ourselves finished nurses. We must be learning all of our
lives.” -Florence Nightingale

Samantha Sosa is a Registered Nurse (RN) working in the Mother-Baby Unit at North Kansas City Hospital. Samantha has been a nurse for five and a half years and is currently working on her Master’s of Science in Nursing as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Check out DEPCO’s interview with her below!

-Have you always wanted to be in the nursing profession?

I changed my major quite a few times early on in my undergrad, but finally settled on Fitness and Wellness, in which I obtained my first bachelor’s degree at Park University. Prior to graduation, I decided that what I really wanted to do was to pursue a career in nursing. I applied for and got accepted to William Jewell’s 12-month accelerated BSN program, and began about 1 month after graduation.

-How long have you been a practicing nurse?

I’ve been a nurse for 5 ½ years now. I originally started working on the Orthopedic unit at North Kansas City Hospital (NKCH) for almost 4 years, then transferred to their Mother-Baby unit.

-When were you first interested in becoming a nurse?

I have always admired the nursing profession. I had some family members that were nurses, and I just thought that they had such an incredible career. I was also hospitalized as a teenager, and the nurses that I encountered were truly amazing. I’ve just always held nurses in high regard.

-When did you first become interested in becoming a Nurse Practitioner?

Upon graduation with my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) and licensure as an RN, I remember stating clearly that I never wanted to go to school ever again. It was such an intense year of my life, that the idea of going back was too much for me to even consider. However, working as a floor nurse for a few years started to become difficult in other ways. I decided that I wanted more decision-making authority and autonomy when providing care for my patients.

-What kind of education and training do you need to become a nurse and become an NP?

There is more than 1 route to become a nurse, but I personally received my BSN, which is a 4-year undergraduate degree. It involves a certain number of clinical hours with volunteer nursing preceptors in numerous specialty settings, as well as an intense course-load. The individual must then pass the comprehensive NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) in order to obtain their RN license.

As for a Nurse Practitioner, a MSN or Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) must be earned in a NP specialty of study. This also involves clinical hours with an APRN (advanced practice registered nurse) or physician as a preceptor. The individual must then pass the certification examination to become board certified as a NP.

-Where was your training and education?

I obtained my BSN from William Jewell College, and fulfilled my precepted hours from nurses throughout hospitals in the greater Kansas City area. I am currently attending UMKC’s MSN-WHNP program, and have been working on my clinical hours with preceptors from clinics within the Kansas City area as well. I have worked with preceptors such as Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) and even Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM), and will be working with a WHNP this coming semester.

-Did/Do you work in addition to training/school?

I did not work while attending school for my undergraduate degree, as the accelerated program was simply too intense to try to juggle both as well as have a family. I currently work part-time while attending school and fulfilling my clinical hours.

-What’s your favorite thing about your profession/education?

The reason I am pursuing this career is because of the absolute importance of women’s reproductive and sexual health, which unfortunately often gets neglected. This results in women not having the best chance at fulfilling all of their dreams and plans for the future. I want to be that provider who gives these women the resources, knowledge, and counseling to help them make the best health decisions for themselves. 

-What has been the most fulfilling experience throughout your nursing journey?

I have had so many different fulfilling experiences in this line of work, as those in the nursing profession see people at so many different points in their lives, the majority of those being extremely vulnerable. I would say that overall, connecting with these individuals from varied backgrounds with so many different life experiences has been amazing for me. Grieving with them, celebrating with them, and relating to them has truly taught me so much. It has helped to shape the way I view the world.

-What would surprise people about your education and profession?

It might surprise people how much those in the nursing profession truly care about our patients. Time and time again I witness nurses going above and beyond to help their patients in various ways. We grieve when you grieve, and we oftentimes take those emotions home with us. Some experiences with patients change us. We don’t just act like we care; we truly do.

-What advice would you give to any interested in pursuing nursing and NP?

Take it one step at a time. One degree at a time, one year at a time, one semester at a time. Looking at the whole picture can feel extremely overwhelming, especially considering how tough these programs are. If you break it down and focus on the present, you can do anything! Just keep in mind why you wanted to pursue this career in the first place. Frequently going back to your “why” will help to give you perspective as well as fuel you to keep going.

Samantha works in North Kansas City, Missouri and has three children with her husband, Christian. The Sosa family also includes a German Shepherd and a Siamese cat. It’s a full house! When she isn’t working, studying, or spending time with family, Samantha loves to tap into her artistic side. She enjoys crafting and DIY projects. She also is constantly consuming new books and tending to her outdoor garden when the weather permits.

Discover Healthcare Data Management with DEPCO!

Students explore medical office career opportunities and develop essential skills while focusing on the medical office environment in DEPCO’s Healthcare Data Management curriculum.

Students learn how to interact with patients and manage healthcare information effectively and efficiently. Managing phone calls, health insurance claims, and financial records are all part of the job. Students also practice scheduling appointments, preparing purchase orders, and a variety of other tasks.

Learn more about our Healthcare Data Management here!


Winter Celebrations

“There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” –C.S. Lewis

As we near the end of the year, many of us will be celebrating cherished holidays over the next few weeks. Our world is full of unique people and unique cultures. As a result there are a myriad of different holidays celebrated around this time. Check out some of those below:


This year Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) started on December 18 and will end on December 26. It is one of the most widely observed holidays in the United States. For Jewish people all over the world, the eight days of Hanukkah are a time of reflection, celebration, and learning. The holiday is marked by meaningful traditions, as well as a variety of celebratory foods and games that honor the origin story of Hanukkah. Hanukkah is a holiday with a rich history and elaborate set of customs, from the menorah lighting ceremony to the significance of traditional foods and toys.

Learn more about the history of Hanukkah here!

Las Posadas

The religious festival known as Las Posadas, or “The Inns” in Spanish, is observed between December 16 and 24 in Mexico and some regions of the United States. Related directly to the Christianity aspect of Christmas, the celebration of Las Posadas honors the trip that Joseph and Mary took from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a secure location where Mary could give birth to the infant Jesus.

Learn more about Las Posadas here!

Winter Solstice

When the earth’s axis tilts away from the sun during the winter solstice, which occurs between December 20 and 23, it marks the shortest day and longest night of the year for people who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Winter Solstice celebrations honor the “return” of the sun. Celebrated all over the world, Winter Solstice events can greatly differ.

It is undeniable that Stonehenge’s ancient circle aligns with the movements of the sun, even though no one is certain why it was constructed. It is one of the world’s monuments, and archaeological evidence suggests that winter solstice celebrations took place there. Modern partygoers have continued the custom by gathering early the day after the longest night to see the sun rise through the stones. For this calm and reverent celebration, visitors can even approach the stones directly, a location that is typically roped off.

The Hopi Native American tribe of northern Arizona celebrate the winter solstice with a festival called Soyal. Purification, dancing, and occasionally gift-giving are all part of ceremonies and rituals. The Hopi people welcome the kachinas, guardian spirits from the mountains, around the time of the solstice. Crafted prayer sticks are used in a variety of rituals and blessings.

Learn more about different Winter Solstice celebrations here!


While many Christians use Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas is not a religion-exclusive holiday! Whether religiously celebrated or not, Christmas is a time for loved ones to gather and celebrate one another. This is done through many traditions including Santa Clause, gift giving, stockings, delicious food, Christmas trees, wreaths, mistletoe, and of course, Mariah Carey.

Learn more about the interesting history of Christmas here!


Kwanzaa is an annual holiday that is primarily observed in the United States from December 26 to January 1 and celebrates African family and social values. Maulana Karenga, an influential figure in Afrocentrism and a professor of Africana studies at California State University, came up with the name and the celebration in 1966. Karenga added the seventh letter, an extra a, to make the word long enough to accommodate one letter for each of the seven children present at an early celebration. The word kwanza, which means “first,” is derived from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza. Kwanzaa is modeled after first-fruits festivals in Southern Africa. From Monday, December 26, 2022, to Sunday, January 1, 2023, Kwanzaa will be observed.

Learn more about Kwanzaa here!

New Years

The celebration of the new year is found in many different iterations throughout the world. Here in the United States, we often celebrate by staying up late and cheering when midnight hits. Many watch the televised Ball Drop in New York City as a part of their festivities. New Years is often used as an opportunity to set new goals for the year.

Click here to get some ideas for New Years goals!

In whatever way you celebrate the season, we at DEPCO wish you happy holidays! May you find yourselves surrounded by loved ones, meaningful and fun traditions, and delicious food.

Librarian: A Resource, Educator, and Friend

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of a library.” – Jorge Louis Borges

Joseph Cowley is a librarian and branch manager at the Locke branch in Toledo, Ohio’s library system. Joseph has been working in libraries for eight and a half years, originally starting in Kansas City, Missouri and ending up in Toledo. Merging his childhood dream of becoming a librarian and his adulthood aspirations of supporting his family, he worked his way through a bachelor’s degree, two master’s degrees, and years of on-the-job experience to climb the ladder in the library system. DEPCO’s discussion with Joseph is enlightening on the important and surprising roles libraries hold in our communities. Check out his interview below:

-When did you first become interested in becoming a librarian?

When I was five. I’ve always loved libraries. Whenever my family would move growing up, one of the first places we would find was the library. My mom and dad took us to libraries a lot. I always thought it would be really cool to work there. You get to talk to people about books all day! Librarians have had a really big impact on me. They’ve introduced me to impactful authors and stories. I used to be a really shy kid and librarians are very nurturing, especially to us shy book nerds. They had a really positive impact on me and I wanted to have that positive impact on others. I also wanted to help libraries survive my lifetime and into my kids’ lifetime. And hopefully their kids’ lifetime!

-What kind of education and training do you need to attain a job in your profession?

It depends on what you do and where you work. There are a lot of factors. Generally, you need to have a bachelor’s degree, not in anything specific. A lot of future librarians lean their studies toward related subjects like English literature, writing, history, psychology, etc. There are a lot of majors that can help prepare you. Your next step, depending on your goals and the library system you are in, is to get a master’s degree in library science or a master’s in library information science. There are some associate degrees in library science and bachelor’s degrees in library science in some programs, but they are pretty rare. I chose to pursue an MBA as well. In my MBA, the focus was in leadership and administration. I went for the MBA to make myself more prepared and more attractive for a management role.

-Where was your training and education?

I went to Park University in Kansas City for my bachelor’s. I double majored in English literature and United States history. I then pursued my master’s of library science at Emporia State, which is in Kansas. It was a hybrid program where I did a lot of work online and some intensive weekends on campus. Afterward, I got my MBA from Colorado Christian University with a focus in project management.

-What were outsiders’ opinions on you choosing two liberal arts degrees for your bachelor’s?

When I told people about it, they often responded: “Oh, so you want to teach. English and History? That’s obviously the only thing you can do with your career.” I had to explain what I was going to do with it and why. Especially the fact that I was double majoring. That ended up being a lot of work that last year, but it was a really good experience. I learned a lot, and through my experiences at Park, my master’s programs were comparatively easy.

-Did you work in addition to school?

Yes. I worked as a personal care assistant to individuals who have developmental disabilities during my undergrad. When I was working on my first master’s, I worked full-time as a librarian and part-time as a personal care assistant. I did somewhere around 100 hours of work and school a week.

-Can you explain the journey through your different roles in the library?

I first started as a part-time librarian in Kansas City. I did desk work, reference work, and helped with shelving. Afterward, I was promoted to a teen librarian. I worked on teen and tween programming. This new position also included outreach to schools around the area. At this point, the reality of my position was that it was very low pay. Unfortunately, it’s not too uncommon that librarians don’t get paid what they should. I had a full-time and a part-time job, and I was working on my master’s degree at the same time.  I kept applying for management positions because I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I applied for assistant managers, managers, and basically anything that would open up in the library system. I got close a few times, it just never stuck.

I had almost finished my master’s degree and my wife and I were about to have our first child. I knew I needed to have a job where we could afford to support a family. I started applying to anything and everything and everywhere. We almost moved to Alaska at one point. We even got close to moving to Dubai. I probably filled out 70-80 applications over three or four months. It was nuts.

Toledo (Ohio) sent me an email and said “Hey, we’d like you to interview.” And I thought: “Oh, did I apply for Toledo?” I had sent so many applications I had lost track. I got a skype interview, they flew me in, and then I did a phone interview. They offered me the job as a teen librarian in a brand new location and I took it. The pay was much better than what I was making in Kansas City. There were a lot of technology aspects to this location. We had 3D printing, an audio/video recording studio, a Cricut machine, a coding machine, button makers, just lots and lots of resources for people to use. It was a great opportunity for me to learn. I worked in that position for two and a half years and got to do some really cool things. We did lots of programs with the schools in the area. We also had summer education opportunities for kids. I put together a career day where I reached out to various different professionals in the community and arranged for them to come to high schools to discuss their career path.

I continuously applied for management positions when they came up. Finally, I was promoted to assistant manager of the children’s department at our main library in Toledo. I was directly over five staff who were teen librarians. We had a teen area, teen desk, video games for teens, and other resources for them to use. I was there for about nine months and then the pandemic hit. Many staff who could retire chose to due to fears and health concerns. They had to shuffle people, and they moved me to the acting manager of the Locke branch, which is where I’m at now. I was the acting manager during the pandemic, and about a year and a half ago they interviewed me for the official branch manager position and I got it. My branch has six library staff, a public safety officer, and a custodian.

-What’s your favorite thing about working in the library?

Getting to know people. You often become similar to hairdressers and bartenders; people tell you things. Sometimes you find yourself in the role of a semi-counselor. You get cool snapshots of people’s lives. You build those relationships with varying ages. I’ve built some really good relationships with some older folks. There’s one older woman who has followed me around the county. We have a good relationship, and she trusts me to help her. She even gives me Christmas cards every year. You get to know people who you never would have in your own life.

-What has been your coolest/most fulfilling experience working in the library?

There are a lot of really cool things you see in the library. There are people you have big influences on. I was the volunteer coordinator at my first position in Toledo. It was a very connected community there. In the summer, I would have somewhere between 60-80 volunteers between the ages of 11-17. I got to know a ton of kids and do some semi-mentoring. I’ve had multiple volunteers of mine go on to work in our library system. Some of those kids are now my coworkers, which is awesome.

-What would surprise people about working in the library?

A library is one of the few safe places that teens and young adults can go that doesn’t require them to pay money to be there. Especially in lower socioeconomic areas, but really everywhere, there are some teens who don’t want to be home after school or can’t be home after school for various reasons. You get to know some kids really well because they are there all the time. You get to build relationships, you get to give guidance, and you get to be a safe adult during after school hours.  You fill a really interesting role. We don’t have expectations like homework. For us, as long as there are no behavioral issues, we don’t care what they do. They can just hang out.

When I left my full-time job in Kansas City I had developed a Teen Advisory Group where teens who came a lot would help me come up with programs they wanted to see. They also helped set the tone for things, for example, if other teens were acting up, they would say “Hey, quit it. Don’t do that here.” It was huge; they were self-modulating. There was one kid in that group whose home life wasn’t great. He was in the library all the time and he was an awesome kid. When I left, it was really hard because I couldn’t be as connected to him anymore. I told my co-workers to look out for him and to make sure he still felt comfortable coming to the library. There’s so much of that kind of need in juvenile, teen, and young adult lives and the library can help fill it.

-What advice would you give to any interested in pursuing your profession?

Gain experience working with people. Build up your customer service skills. It also depends on what kind of librarian you want to be. If you want to be a children’s librarian, get experience working with youth in various capacities. Volunteering is always a good opportunity. Also, make sure you understand the profession. A lot of people have a strong misconception about what librarians do. Some think we read books all day. As fantastic as that would be, that is not the case! Talk to a librarian and get an idea of what we actually do. It’s helping people with welfare applications, sending faxes, employment searches, looking over resumes, doing programming, teaching skills, and building relationships. It’s a varied career, and mostly involves helping others. Understand what the library system actually does, and figure out where you want your role to be. Also, having technology skills is important. You will use the computer every day, and libraries will be using technology more and more as time goes on.

Joseph lives in Toledo with his wife Meghan and their three children. Ohio is the tenth state that he has lived in. Joseph loves his job and his family life. When he gets time to himself, he reads, plays video games, and participates in what he describes as “various forms of treasure hunting.” Joseph enjoys thrifting and looking through places like Facebook Marketplace for items of interest. Whatever he collects from these endeavors he keeps, gives as gifts, or restores and sells.

Discover Desktop Publishing with DEPCO!

Students will learn about the field of desktop publishing in this DEPCO curriculum. They will become acquainted with the various tools and concepts employed in this field. Students will also learn how to create a variety of documents while adhering to key publishing principles. After finishing their publications, students will learn how to export them for various media and what to look for when choosing a printing company.

Check out Desktop Publishing here!

Computer Science Education Week

“The computer was born to solve problems that did not exist before.” — Bill Gates

We at DEPCO invite you to celebrate Computer Science Education week by learning more about computer programming and coding! Computer programming is necessary in today’s world to maintain the functionality of the systems and gadgets we use every day. Programming languages make it possible for people to communicate with machines and direct them to carry out necessary tasks. Programming languages are essential for enabling humans and computers to communicate.

The history of programing begins in the nineteenth century with the works of Ada Lovelace. Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer who was born on December 10, 1815. She is also regarded as the world’s first computer programmer. Her works were influenced by The Analytical Engine, invented by Charles Babbage. Lovelace first met Charles Babbage when she was 17 years old.

After being inspired by Babbage, she came across an article on analytical computers by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea. This discovery led to her making giant strides into the world of programming. Lovelace researched his work further and published her own paper in 1843. She stated that if the machine is fed a series of operations using signs and numbers, it can competently solve a variety of mathematical problems. This was the beginning of programming!

Alan Turing and his computer, The Bombe, made the next major advancement in the world of coding after Ada Lovelace’s work. Germany began to communicate using secret coded messages in the 1920s, thanks to their famous machine, The Enigma. The British hired Turing during World War II to break through these codes and interpret the messages. Turing’s machine was able to break through the constantly changing code, reducing the manual effort and time required for code-breaking.

Turing then created the “Advanced Computing Engine,” a more flexible and advanced machine. It was dubbed “advanced” because it performed its functions using “abbreviated computer instructions.” This was arguably the first computer language used, and it served as the focal point at the start of the modern programming world. The Imitation Game, a movie from 2014, depicts Turing’s story.

Since then, the world of programming has become more sophisticated and more accessible. For example, it doesn’t take a PhD to begin learning. There are many ways to enter that world at a young age! To celebrate Computer Science and Education Week, Google has provided online activities that introduce users to the concept of coding. Check out those lessons here!

Programming with DEPCO!

DEPCO’s Programming Basics curriculum introduces students to the Kano Computer Kit which features the Raspberry Pi 3, a lightweight, powerful brain. Students use a uniquely designed operating system, Kano OS, as well as the Linux command line to complete programming techniques using the Scratch language and textual programming techniques using the Python language.

Learn more about our Programming Basics module here!

100 Blogs

“Instead of hate, celebrate.” -Prince

We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate DEPCO’s 100th blog post. We began writing our blogs in February of 2020. Different DEPCO writers have used their talents since then to bring interesting information to our readers and highlight our DEPCO products. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite blog posts throughout the last few years:

Find the Library at Your Place was written back in April of 2022. This post was dedicated to helping individuals access resources found in a library when most libraries at the time were closed for the pandemic. It’s unreal to think about how many institutions were shut down at the time, forcing teachers, parents, students, and professionals to be creative when fulfilling their responsibilities and finding fun activities.

A Time to Thank Our EMS Professionals was published in May 2020. This blog post honored first responders during National EMS week, a holiday declared by President Gerald Ford. Through the pandemic, we were able to see how brave and self sacrificing the people in this industry really are.

Happy National VCR Day! celebrated the invention of the VCR back in June of 2021. While currently outdated, many of us grew up watching and using this bulky technology. Find out fun facts about the VCR in this post!

3D printing is an important aspect of products sold by our company! In August of 2021, we published Innovations in 3D Printing to discuss the history of 3D printing and to highlight the cool ways in which 3D printing aids education. Recently, we provided a large Stratasys 3D printer to A.T. Still University! Medical students and faculty there have benefited greatly from their 3D printing program.

In February of 2021, DEPCO published International Day of Women and Girls in Science! This was an opportunity to celebrate the strides made by women in the world of science. While women have been underestimated in the field for centuries, that hasn’t stopped them from making their mark. Take a look at this cool post to discover some of the most celebrated scientific women!

Global Recycling Day was an opportunity for our company to encourage green habits and to arm recycling individuals and companies with knowledge! This blog takes the reader through the history of recycling and supplies important information to the recycling process. For example, never recycle anything with food on it! It could contaminate an entire truckload of recyclables.

In one of our early blog interviews, we explored the dichotomy of business and motherhood in A Business Owner and Mother. Charity Smith discussed with us her joy in having her own massage therapy business and balancing it with her love of motherhood. Published to celebrate Mother’s Day this year, it was inspiring to us all!

We learned more about floral design freelancing in Floral Design with Faith Arendt. Faith took us through her artistic background and showed us how it translated into her eventual career with florals! Her transition from paralegal to floral design showed the importance of nurturing all your talents. You never know if they can help you with your next job!

DEPCO writer Bre Baker had a fascinating conversation with her Grandfather in Rockets, Space Shuttles, and Area 51. As a man who worked in many government positions, even working on the space shuttle Challenger at one point, Larry Allison’s stories were wondrous.

For our 100th blog post, we wanted to take the opportunity to say THANK YOU! Thank you to our writers, readers, interviewees, and everyone who contributes to our blog. We are thankful for your effort and hope to continue bringing entertaining reading!


The DEPCO team

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Be present in all things and thankful for all.” -Maya Angelou

Happy Thanksgiving from DEPCO! Today is the day many of us have been looking forward to all month. While often people enjoy a “classic” Thanksgiving with a turkey dinner surrounded by family, some Americans opt for a more unique spin on the holiday.

Alternatives to Turkey

While many Americans delight in the yearly tradition of a turkey dinner, some opt for different meals to stuff themselves with. It would be easy for Turkey to be swapped with ham, chicken, roast beef, or really any seasoned meat. But there are some who completely transform the concept of Thanksgiving dinner. Mexican food for Thanksgiving is becoming more and more popular. If you find yourself eating a non-traditional meal this year, enjoy! The only thing that truly matters is the shared company.


In January 2020, the term “Friendsgiving” was formally included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Essentially, it’s Thanksgiving Day with your friends. Sometimes it happens in place of or in addition to Thanksgiving. The term “Friendsgiving” was first used in a tweet from 2007 according to Merriam-Webster, but some people attribute the idea of celebrating the holiday with friends to the popular television program Friends. According to another theory, the word was used in a 2011 Baileys Irish Cream liqueur advertising campaign, which helped the Friendsgiving movement gain more traction. Happy Friendsgiving to all enjoying their chosen loved ones this holiday!

DEPCO’s Thankful Thoughts

This year we rounded up the thankful thoughts of a few of our DEPCO employees. Check those out below!

“I’m thankful for good music, good books, and a great job. I’m most thankful for the main men in my life. The 6’3 one and the ones under 4 feet.” -Bre Baker

“I’m thankful for my family (personal & professional), my health, and the fun, exciting industry I get to work in. ” -Aaron Panek

“I’m thankful for my kids, my job, and my health!” -Aislinn Bybee

“I’m thankful for my healthy family!” -Cameron Collins

“Family, 6.5 Grandkids, a healthy sales pipeline, KC Chiefs, KU basketball, and all the wonderful people who work here at DEPCO.” -Rod Murphy

A theme of family and health seemed to be on the minds of our DEPCO people. We hope that your Thanksgiving is full of love, laughter, joy, and amazing food!

Service and Thanks

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” -Maya Angelou

Many of us around the country are anticipating Thursday of next week! Turkey, mashed potatoes, rolls, pies, and a large number of other foods we can stuff ourselves with await us on Thanksgiving Day. Not only will many of us be well-fed, many also will have the opportunity to spend time with our loved ones. It’s the perfect combination. With such an exciting event coming up, it can be easy to focus on our plans and not pay attention to the people around us who aren’t as fortunate.

The Hunger Problem

While it may seem hard to believe when considering our developed country, hunger in the United States is a prevalent issue. According to Feeding America, more than 34 million people (including 9 million children are what is called “food insecure.” A lack of consistent access to adequate amounts of food for a healthy lifestyle is known as food insecurity. It’s possible for a family to be in this situation for a short while or for a very long period of time. Unfortunately, the pandemic only exacerbated these problems, particularly for families in rural communities. Systemic issues such as race also play a factor. Lots of these families do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and have to seek their food elsewhere. This is where help from individuals and families can make a large difference.

If you never worry about where your next meal is coming from, take a moment to be thankful! Then, think about what you can do to give back to your community. Everyone’s time and resources vary, but there is always something you can do. Monetary and food donations help keep these charitable organizations such as food banks running. Consider making a donation or creating a food drive in order to help those in need. To find a food bank near you, click here. To find other hunger-related volunteer opportunities, click here. To find out how to support ending hunger through advocacy, click here. You can also help by bringing a meal to a family you know in need.

Be a Friend

Some of us have lucked out with our born and chosen families. Having loved ones to spend time with over the holidays is a luxury that may not occur to you. There are many people out there who have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving and Christmas. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of individuals with mental illness feel that holidays make their condition worse. This could be due to a lot of things: loneliness, strained relationships, or seasonal affective disorder just to name a few. No matter what the cause, it is a reoccurring truth in our country that holidays can wear down on mental health.

Helping someone in this area can be delicate. It is a good idea to reach out to people around you. Letting someone know that you care can make a huge difference in their lives. Find out if anyone needs a place to go for holiday events and invite them to attend with you!

Check out Mental Health First Aid for a list of mental health resources!

We at DEPCO challenge you to serve your community and peers this holiday season in whatever way you can!

Discover Culinary Arts with DEPCO!

In this curriculum, students gain knowledge on how to weigh and measure food, properly prepare it, and then present it in a creative way. Students create basic foods using recipes and tools akin to those used by professional chefs as an introduction to this fascinating industry. Students complete recipes for quesadillas, cookies, soup, and even a simple oil and vinegar dressing while using their creativity, weighing and measuring techniques, safety and sanitation standards, and other skills.

To learn more about our Culinary Arts module, click here!

Rockets, Space Shuttles, and Area 51

I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.” -Marie Curie

DEPCO writer Bre Baker looked into her own family to find the subject of this week’s blog post. Her grandfather, Larry Allison, spent a fascinating career working on rockets, space shuttles, and with the different technical mediums used to support them. Check out Bre’s interview with Larry below:

-Can you tell me about the education and training you received in your life?

I was in the Navy for four years, from 1956 to 1960. I did quite a bit of training in electronics. I was a sonarman. I repaired and operated the sonar equipment.

-Did you have any training or education outside of the Navy?

I went to Idaho State for college. I studied electronics for three years. I did television repair in order to pay my way through college. I fixed color televisions. Color TV came out when I was in school. It was difficult to set up back then. You had to take a big magnet and go around the set. Each color had to be set up one by one. It would take about three hours.

-What did you do after college?

After I got out of college, I moved to Las Vegas in 1963. I took a job at a company called Edgerton, Germeshausen, and Grier (EG&G). My company wanted to design and make a rocket for interplanetary travel to Mars. My job was to keep the machines running that made the rockets. We were developing a nuclear engine. I worked on that for seven years. I would ride 95 miles twice a day on a bus to get to and from that job. I would get up in the morning around 5 o’ clock, I’d walk across a dirt field and board the bus. We would test the engines on railroad cars. We would run it down a railroad track about five miles from us and we would activate it remotely.

I got radiated quite a few times on that job. We used to have to be checked when we left the plant to see if we had any radiation on us. They would take our clothes away from us a lot of times. We’d have to shower and they’d give us a pair of coveralls to wear home. They’d check us several times until there wasn’t any there. If radiation got on the tires of your pickup, you’d have to spin your tires with the brake on and burn that rubber off. Radiation changes the color of things, so I brought some old dishes we had to the site of the engine. One turned purple and one turned brown. I had to leave them for about a month before I could take them home so they didn’t contain any radiation.

After working for seven years, we developed our idea and guess what happened? People said “Okay, you’ve got a nuclear engine. What happens if that falls into a populated area?” And we said “Oops.” We had to abandon the project. That hurt.

-I know you can’t tell me a lot, but can you tell me a little about your experience working in Area 51? I don’t know anything more about it than conspiracy theories.

Well, you can’t know much more than that. I had to have a top secret clearance to go on board. I actually flew in an airplane to get out there every day, a DC-4. There was a landing strip there made of metal, and boy, those tires screamed when they hit that.

The test site was one huge area. There were a lot of things going on. Area 51 kind of sits by itself. They dug a hole out there that was 100 feet wide, and it went down miles. I never did know what it was for. I went down five miles one time in an elevator; it was really dark down there.

-Anything else you can tell me?

*laughing* I have to be careful what I tell you, because I could be put in jail! They told me when I went out there: “You’re going to see a lot of strange things out here. If you look over your head and see something, and it doesn’t involve what you’re working on, don’t even look up.” And we didn’t. When I was there, I built equipment to interfere with radar systems. That’s about all I can tell you on that end.

One day when we got back to Las Vegas, we had a terrible sandstorm and we couldn’t land. We couldn’t even see. The pilot had to circle Las Vegas for two hours. He came on the radio and said “If we can’t land within the next half hour, we’ve got to go to Phoenix, Arizona to land.” That was a long way away. After circling for 2-3 hours, the pilot told us we were getting too low on fuel. But all of a sudden a conduit opened up to the ground, and he dove through that thing and landed.

When I no longer worked for these organizations, they took my top secret clearance away. The FBI took two years to clear me. The neighbors would talk and say “What did Larry do to have the FBI coming and asking us questions?” *laughing* They thought I was a criminal!

-What did you do after you left Las Vegas?

By 1979 I had moved to Utah and was working for a company called Thiokol. It was a government contractor. I took care of the equipment there. Have you seen the space shuttle?

-I have seen it, yes!

Well, I worked on that. I was watching a monitor when the space shuttle Challenger blew up. I was on site. The accident happened because we got a leakage. The leakage happened because the weather turned really cold the day we were supposed to test. We had icicles on the space shuttle. Our CEO said “Don’t run.” But the workers ignored it and they ran. Thiokol had to take the blame for it blowing up, because the rockets were ours. It was the seals that we bought from another company that did the leaking, and it hadn’t been checked for freezing weather. That was in 1986. After that happened, our company was blackballed and it was several years before we got any contracts.

-Wow; incredible. What did you do specifically at Thiokol?

At Thiokol I worked on numerical controlled computers. They ran the vertical and horizontal lathe we used on the space shuttle parts. They were huge machines. At that time they cost four million dollars a piece. I was the only person that worked on those machines. I kept telling my boss “You had better put somebody with me because I’m not going to be here forever.” Nobody else could fix those machines. The funny thing about the machines was I thoroughly loved them because every day was different. It was very technical. There were days I’d spend all day long working on one problem.

There were different sized machines. They had a table that was 168 inches across. The parts for the space shuttle were set on that table. A forty horse motor would turn the tables and machinists would machine them. You’d run the lathe up to high speed and in the center of the table was a cutting blade. If a part was scrapped, I was called. I’d have to figure out if the machine was the problem, not the person operating it. Some days I would have to dry-run that machine ‘ump-teen’ times to see if I could get it to do what the machinist said it did.

I never had to blame the machine. It was always human error, and just a piece of that space shuttle was atrocious in price. If we scrapped them, we were supposedly financially responsible. I prayed my machine never scrapped them. Also, when you have a 4 million dollar machine down, you have all kinds of bosses over you checking your work. Finally, I got smart and said “If you guys would get out of here, I could fix it a lot faster.” They were wheeled by that comment. I never had headaches before. I developed headaches from that very job. I would work on those machines when there was a problem, and if I didn’t get it fixed that day, I would go home and dream about it.

I thoroughly loved that job. It broke my heart when I had the stroke and had to leave it. I was in the hospital for a month, and the guys at work would try to fix the machines. They’d call and talk to me for hours, but they couldn’t fix it. I finally had to tell them “This isn’t working.” They had to replace them.

Outside of his interesting career path, Larry lives an impactful family life. He lives in Fielding, Utah with his wife of 62 years, Pat. Larry and Pat have 7 kids, 30 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren all over the United States!

Launch into Rocketry and Space with DEPCO!

Students are given a complete introduction to the area of rocketry and space in this thrilling program from DEPCO, covering everything from the fascinating history of rockets to the fundamentals of rocket flight. Students construct a paper rocket using Newton’s equations of motion in order to get precise information for estimating flight times and lengths. Students will also construct a real model rocket that they can launch while being closely supervised by the instructor. They will examine the different aspects of rocketry, including the role of the center of mass, the significance of pressure in rocket stability, and the functions of various model rocket pieces. Students will design, construct, and launch a simulated rocket using the computer simulation application RockSim.

To learn more about our Rocketry and Space curriculum, click here!

Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine

Any variation from the health has a cause, and the cause has a location.  It is the business of the osteopath to locate and remove it (the cause), doing away with disease and getting health instead. -A.T. Still, MD, DO

Kelsey Johnson is an Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM) Fellow at Kansas City University, Joplin campus. Kelsey is between her third and fourth year of medical school and is using her year-long fellowship to learn as much as she can about OMM to use in her future practice. Learn more about OMM and the medical school experience in her interview with DEPCO below:

-What made you decide to enroll in medical school to become a doctor?

I’ve always been interested in science and I love being around people. It’s the typical “helping people” answer! I’m from a really small town, so I’d like to go back and incorporate my knowledge into my community.

-Where are you from?

I’m from a small town in southern Minnesota called St. Clair; most people don’t know where it is.

-Do you have an idea of the kind of doctor you’d like to be?

I’m interested in family medicine, kind of the full spectrum, which is a recent development for me. I was really interested in emergency medicine for the longest time, but with family medicine you can do emergency in the smaller ERs. I also really like pediatrics and delivering babies. With family medicine, you can do everything.

-What are the differences between a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO)?

Historically, it’s been about the philosophy of how you treat patients. A DO takes more of a holistic, full-body approach. In the past 15 years it has changed; there isn’t a whole lot of difference between an allopathic physician (an MD) verses a DO. DOs work in every specialty; they do surgery, they do all the same things MDs do. Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine is one current difference. OMM is another tool DOs have in their tool bag.

-What is Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM)?

We learn how to use treatments with our hands and manipulate the body using muscles and different treatment techniques. We incorporate that in with traditional pharmaceutical treatment. You wouldn’t go in to a DO with an ear infection and not come out with antibiotics, but we might add in an OMM treatment that could help clear that infection faster. If a patient has pain, a DO could prescribe pain medication, but they may try an OMM technique that would decrease the pain as well. We just have that extra step we can use.

-How does it relate and differ to other techniques such as massage, chiropractic, or physical therapy?

All of those are incorporated in some way. The different techniques that we use, some of them are very similar to massage in that we use techniques to treat soft and deep tissues. When you think of chiropractors, you think of popping your neck and things like that; DOs can do the same thing. Chiropractors focus more on aligning vertebra to help reset the system. While we can do a lot of that, we incorporate more than just that technique.

We have a lot of the same language as physical therapy. That’s why DOs and physical therapists get along so well in general. We both focus on muscles and using your own body to get back to health. All of these techniques are incorporated into medicine; the difference is we have that medical degree that allows us to add in medicine, treatments, and plans.

-How long have you been studying OMM?

I am between my third and fourth year of medical school, so about three and a half years.

-When did you first become interested in becoming an OMM fellow?

I actually thought about it my first year of medical school. I really grasped onto OMM; I enjoy it and I want to use it in my practice. My fellowship is just a way to get more education. I want to refine my skills a little more before I go on and practice.

-How do you anticipate using OMM in your career as a doctor?

I’m really interested in using OMM treatments in breastfeeding. There’s a lot of research coming out on how OMM can help increase milk production and help with latch. Breastfeeding is hard, but I feel like in some cases people struggle unnecessarily. I would love to treat both mom and baby at the same time and be able to use OMM to help them continue breastfeeding. That’s primarily my interest, but I also love that I have OMM as a resource to use in different situations.

-What is the coolest experience you have had working with OMM?

That’s a tough question; there’s been a lot! There’s this video that we show students; a child got cochlear implants and heard his mom’s voice for the first time, and he dropped his pacifier out of his mouth. We tell students “you’re going to have one of these pacifier-dropping experiences with OMM where things just click for you.” For me, that was after I had my first baby. I had a lot of hip and pelvic pain from childbirth. We have a treatment called counter-strain where you use muscles in your body and shut off the pain receptors. I had a very tender point, my friend treated it, and it was completely gone. Ever since then, I’ve been like “This is fantastic and I’m going to use it on everybody!”

-What advice would you give to any interested in pursuing osteopathic medicine?

Medical school in general is hard, it’s long, but it’s worth it. Everyone gets to that point in school where they question “Am I really doing the right thing here?” But then you get to experience treating patients, and you get to deliver a baby, and you get to have all these amazing experiences. It is 100% worth it. That’s my first piece of advice; the other is just work hard and pursue your passions, especially in OMM. You really have to dive into it if you want to be good at it. It isn’t hard to do but you have to take that extra step and push yourself to get better at it.

Kelsey works at the Joplin, Missouri campus of Kansas City University. She lives in Webb City with her husband, her son, and her two dogs. She is due to have a little girl any day now! When asked what hobbies she enjoyed, she laughed and said “I don’t have time for hobbies. I chase my two-year-old around. Whatever he likes, I like that day!” When she finds the time, she loves to be outside and play sports such as golf and volleyball.

Discover Sports Medicine with DEPCO!

Our Sports Medicine program introduces students to a rapidly expanding field in the health care industry that is creating a plethora of exciting job opportunities for properly trained personnel. Sports medicine is a circle of care that starts on the field, moves to treatment, then to rehabilitation, and then back to the field.

Students use hands-on activities that introduce them to proper stretching techniques, athletic taping, on-the-spot treatment of athletic injuries, rehabilitation, nutrition, and much more.

To find out more about our Sports Medicine curriculum, click here!

Floral Design

“I must have flowers, always, and always.” – Claude Monet

Faith Arendt is a freelance floral designer in Provo, Utah who has worked with multiple prominent floral companies in her area. Working as a paralegal previously, she was let go during the pandemic. Faith relied on her lifetime of artistic study and shifted her career to floral design in January of 2022. Since then, she has found great fulfillment in helping create beautiful events with flowers and other supporting mediums. Check out her interview with DEPCO below:

Sample of Faith Arendt’s personal work

-Can you tell me about your journey that led to a career in floral design?

I got let go at the end of 2021. I was applying for paralegal jobs and I had a hard time finding something. The pandemic made it really difficult. I decided I needed to broaden my scope in finding new work. I initially started applying for event manager jobs. The skill set that I have as a paralegal actually transfers pretty well to event management. I ended up interviewing for a job with a design company, which required me to present a portfolio of design work. They ended up really liking my portfolio, which led into freelancing with floral design. The companies I work with gave me really good advice about my career. It was a career path I had never heard of before.

-Can you tell me about your experience with design and art previous to your floral career?

I started in art when I was young. I won a lot of awards as a kid for textile and apparel and acrylic painting. Those along with charcoal and graphite were where I had the most experience. I was put into art lessons when I was six years old and left art lessons when I was 18 years old. I started sewing when I was 8 years old, and have sewed continually throughout my life. I’ve done quilting, dresses, apparel, really anything. I’ve designed my own patterns.

That’s where it all started. Once I had my career shift, I decided to take an education shift as well. I decided to apply for UVU (Utah Valley University) school of arts, I got in, and now I’m majoring in design marketing. It’s a broad major, which was intentional. I can do a lot of things in design and I want my resume to reflect that.

-Do you feel that your artistic background has translated at all into your design with florals?

Absolutely. The principles are often the same. In every piece of art and design, you create elements to create a whole. Your project is based on elements. What has helped me with this is the color study I have experienced over the years in painting, in clothes, and in quilts. It’s important to make something elevated and beautiful, something that a person who doesn’t do design can look at and think “Oh, that’s stunning” but they can’t piece all the elements together to understand why.

Sample of Faith Arendt’s personal work

-Did you enjoy horticulture before starting as a freelance floral designer?

My grandmother and mother were really into gardening and flowers. I didn’t know that it was weird to know as many flower names as I knew before starting out. That background helped me a lot.

-What’s your favorite thing about floral design?

I love the medium that I get to work with. I work with flowers and all the different materials that compliment them. I just love how everything comes together.

-Do you have a favorite flower?

This is hard; there are so many cool flowers! I love this Japanese ranunculus called the Charlotte ranunculus. Usually ranunculuses are super dainty, but this one is crazy. I might be saying that because it’s currently the background of my phone. I also think snap dragons are really cool.

-What’s your proudest moment working in the floral industry?

At the beginning of my freelancing, I was hired to make a Valentine’s Day floral design for a chain of grocery stores. I loved walking into my local grocery store and realizing: “I did that!”

In general, I just love getting to the end of a project. On Saturdays, I’m often working 12+ hours for events. It’s long hours but it’s amazing to see the final product. Seeing everyone’s hard work reflected in a beautiful design is so satisfying.

Sample of Faith Arendt’s personal work

-Is there anything about floral design or the design industry that might surprise people?

 It’s really competitive. I definitely feel like I have to work my keep. Also, they may not think about the physicality that comes with working with events. Designing is pretty and fun, but it’s important to make sure the event comes together. That might mean you are filling up glass with water or quickly hot gluing things together. I definitely get my body moving on a job, but that’s one of the things I love about it.

Also, the event will happen whether we are ready or not, so my managers often have to find creative solutions to problems that come up. In event design jobs there is time pressure: “This has to be amazing…right now.” I love the pressure though; it’s where I thrive.

-What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in freelance floral work?

Study floral design. Right now I’m taking some extra online classes called Flowering Minds. A lot of people think “Oh, I can mess around with flowers. I can do a wedding for a friend.” But those important floral design elements have to be learned. You can’t rely on just an artistic eye.

Faith and her husband Ethan live in Provo, Utah. Living in one of the best states for outdoor activities, Faith enjoys skiing, camping, hiking, wakeboarding, waterskiing, canyoneering, and any sport she can play. Faith spends lots of time cultivating her own garden, and loves to cook with her home-grown ingredients.

Discover Horticulture with DEPCO!

Horticulture is the science and art of growing, propagating, processing, and selling ornamental plants, flowers, turf, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Horticulture is unique among plant sciences in that it incorporates not only science and technology, but also art and design principles. Students will learn the fundamentals of Specialty Horticulture Arts, Turf Management, Landscape Design, Floriculture, Floral Design, Forestry, and Greenhouse Operations and Management in this curriculum. Students make their own terrarium mold, floral arrangement, and handmade paper. They also assess the skills required to operate a greenhouse and sketch a landscape design.

To learn more about our Horticulture curriculum, click here!