Outstanding grad gains self-confidence with research

Brooke Pottinger talks to lab members.
From left to right, Christine Fruhauf, professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and Brooke Pottinger talk to a Promoting Healthy Aging and Families Research Laboratory teammate.
Brooke Pottinger
Brooke Pottinger

Brooke Pottinger didn’t spend a long time as an undeclared major. She found her passion during her first semester at Colorado State University when she took a human development and family studies course. 

“I was always fascinated by people’s processes and why we do what we do,” said Pottinger, a senior and outstanding graduate of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “HDFS seemed like the perfect fit for me.”

Pottinger would argue that the Department of Human Development and Family Studies has some of the best professors at CSU because of their willingness to go above and beyond for their student’s success.

“My professors use their knowledge about people and the struggles emerging adults face to better the lives of their students,” said Pottinger.

Gaining confidence

Throughout her educational career, Pottinger felt that she lacked the self-confidence when it came to representing herself and conveying the knowledge she was gaining. 

“I was always a people-person, but I needed to refine some of those skills to be effective when working with all types of individuals,” said Pottinger. The classes Pottinger took for her major helped her to excel. 

“The classes I’ve taken within the HDFS department have pushed me to produce my best work, and I appreciate how my professors have challenged me to be a critical thinker and to find the gap in knowledge,” recalled Pottinger. The group presentations Pottinger had in every class helped her gain confidence in her knowledge. 

“From the first day in my class, Brooke was one of the most poised young people I have known while at CSU,” said Zeynep Biringen, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “I knew she would be a key agent in her group to move things to the highest level on this collaborative grant-writing project for seniors.” 

Biringen took notice of Pottinger’s positive outlook when she said several times in class ‘things will be ok’ as if she was also reassuring the others. 

“How many people at any age can say that to themselves and others and make it come true?” said Biringen. “I am eager to learn of Brooke’s next steps in her career, as she will be a difference-maker.”

Barbara Gibson and Brooke Pottinger participate in group yoga.

Participating in research

Pottinger gained research experience that not only sparked her interest in community improvement but also motivated her to pursue graduate school someday. 

Pottinger has been working with the MY-Skills study since it became a funded project from the National Institutes of Health in 2018. Conducted by Arlene Schmid, associate professor in occupational therapy, and with Professor Christine Fruhauf’s lab, the Promoting Healthy Aging and Families Research Laboratory in HDFS, the study looks at two people who focus on merging yoga and self-management to develop skills to improve pain for individuals in a caregiving dyad.

Pottinger helped iron out the kinks of the planning stages and also helped conduct different focus groups regarding yoga interventions. 

“Brooke is an important member of our research team,” said Fruhauf. “She began helping us with our yoga manual, participant recruitment, as an observer during our focus group sessions (she even came-up with our ice-breaker that we used during the focus group), and for the past two semesters, serves as our fidelity checker.” 

Pottinger also participated in the GRANDcares Project, an HDFS Extension program, led by Fruhauf. The project provides classes for grandparents raising their grandchildren, their grandchildren, and those serving them. 

Pottinger was trained to be a GRANDcares Youth Club assistant facilitator and assisted during the Spring 2019 semester with the first cohort of grandchildren. 

“The grandchildren loved her,” said Fruhauf about Pottinger, who equipped the grandchildren with ways to help their emotions and their families amid a lot of the strife of family life. This meant helping to create a community where the participants felt a sense of community.

For now, Pottinger plans to work in Fort Collins to save money and to enjoy her post-grad life before applying to grad school. 

“I will miss being a student, being able to bond with others over school, and losing that part of my identity the most,” said Pottinger. “I’ve lived my college life to the fullest, so knowing that this part is over is bittersweet.”

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is a part of the CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

Read about more of the outstanding graduates in the College of Health and Human Sciences.