University of Central Florida graduate student Renée DeRouin accepted the 2005 APAGS/APA Award for Distinguished Professional Contribution by a Graduate Student at APA's 2005 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C.
The award honors students who work with underserved populations, either in an applied setting or delivering health services. DeRouin, a fifth-year student in industrial and organizational psychology, earned the award for her work with two underserved populations--elderly adults and unemployed adults.
As part of a four-month internship project, she helped Workforce Central Florida, a nonprofit job training and search service, design its launch plan for a mobile employment center that brings job services to unemployed adults in rural Florida. To reach people without cars or other means of transportation, the group bought a large RV outfitted with computer workstations and linked to the Internet via satellite.
"It's absolutely an amazing unit," DeRouin says. "It was especially useful after the four hurricanes last year, when power was out everywhere else."
She helped the group plan how the mobile unit would be used, devised its staffing plan and developed job descriptions and training materials for the unit's operators.
In a separate project, DeRouin developed a training program to help older adults learn to use the computerized database at the University of Central Florida's library system. She combined this with a research project that investigated factors that help older adults learn new information, and she found that self-paced learning improved the learners' satisfaction with the training.
DeRouin says that she hopes to continue working with older adults in the future.