Senior Spotlight: Megan McElmeel (’21)

As we celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2021, we share the experiences, memories and plans of some of our seniors.

Megan McElmeel (’21)
Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa
Major: Social Work

During my time at Loras College, I took part in soccer and dance marathon.

Megan McElmeel (’21)

Loras College is an excellent school that provides students with various academic, athletic and volunteer opportunities. While looking for the best fit for my future college, what stood out to me the most was their commitment to making students succeed in the classroom, community, and field. Talking with various Loras College Alumni gave me an insight into what I should expect and how my future could look.

Loras College has provided me with a broad range of classes that have given me an interdisciplinary knowledge base to carry on into the future. A variety of classes that range from children’s discipline to social and biological sciences have given me the discipline to complete the social work program successfully. Getting several different opportunities to work with children and adults in a therapeutic setting has set me up for success in the future. The amount of guidance I had while attending Loras was outstanding, and it has pushed me to continue my education to get my Master’s.

Two of my favorite memories were completing my internship at Finley Pediatric Outpatient Care Center and my field placement at Unity Point Hospital working under the supervision of a medical social worker.

Unity Point Finley Hospital has allowed me to work side-by-side with an experienced hospital social worker. Under supervision, I met with patients and completed initial assessments in the ICU, acute rehab, med/surg and the ED. In addition, I attended weekly care conferences that families are called to due to COVID to give updates on patients and set up discharge plans for when they are ready to leave the hospital.

Finley Pediatric Outpatient Care Center has provided me with firsthand experience working with children who have social, emotional, and chronic illnesses. Interning at Finely Hospital has been an eye-opener for me, as I have worked alongside therapists in observing and assisting them with two children who have a disability or have gone through a life crisis that has impacted their ability to function to their fullest potential. For example, in one situation, I assisted a therapist with a child who had difficulty carrying out everyday activities due to having cerebral palsy due to an anoxic brain injury. The child has a severe receptive and expressive language disorder. I helped the therapist during some of her therapy sessions by using a communication device to promote functional communication skills. In another situation, a child with 8p chromosome deletion presented impaired feeding skills, including limited skills for chewing and immature swallowing patterns.

Supporting clients using specific techniques to facilitate communication, building trust and helping patients develop skills is a big part of recognizing their human dignity. I believe Loras has given me several different experiences and memories academically that have tremendously helped me prepare for my undergraduate degree and continue my schooling.

In the Fall of 2021, I will be attending the University of Iowa to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a child life specialist. A child life specialist is a healthcare professional trained to help children with terminal and chronic illnesses. During my time at the University of Iowa, I will partake in helping children with their emotional and developmental needs while in the hospital. I will also help the families and children understand what medical procedures they will endure and navigate them through the process of hospitalization. Using therapeutic and medical play will help children understand procedures and make them more comfortable throughout their stay. Frederick Buchner once defined vocation as “The place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Chronic illnesses like cancer are a type of “deep hunger” in our world that has called me to the child life field. Cancer has rocked my family’s world more than once and has motivated me to want to work in a field where I can help others with chronic illnesses.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2020, Loras was ranked the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the fourth consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 12th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).