Growing up, the central message Eric Schisler received about sexual violence was simply: "Don't be a perpetrator."
While working at a women's shelter in Cortland, New York, she realized that the message should be expanded to include prevention and intervention.
"Bystander intervention helps shift this conversation from 'As long as you're not doing this, you can forget it' to 'It's everyone's responsibility to keep those around them safe,'" he said. "Sexual violence is something that no one should be subjected to, and I believe that we should all be responsible for keeping ourselves safe"
Schisler wanted to help lead that change, so he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in Health Sciences, Sports and Exercise at the U of A, where he was able to work with Professor Page Dobbs at the Faculty of Education and Health Professions. His degree of concentration is on behavior and health promotion.
"Dr. Dobbs had a huge influence on my career path and I knew that working with her would help me achieve my goals," she said.
Schisler is also a graduate assistant in the U of A Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation and teaches Introduction to Human Sexuality.
In the fall, he presented his research on bystander sexual assault interventions on college-age men at the American Public Health Association conference. Schisler's research indicates that many people, especially male college students he has interviewed, do not step in if they believe their help may not be necessary or necessary.
"I hope to change that and help people realize that it is better to ask people if they are okay rather than assuming they should cope," he said.
Schisler has a degree in physical education from the State University of New York College in Cortland. After taking a year off to work as a substitute teacher and direct support professional at the Anderson Center for Autism, he returned to SUNY Cortland to pursue a master's degree in community health. He plans to complete his doctorate at the U of A in May 2024.
Schisler would like to work in a teaching school next.
"I've always loved teaching, and teaching at the college level has been amazing," he said. "I also look forward to traveling internationally and working with vulnerable populations."
While at SUNY Cortland, Schisler traveled abroad, collected data, and worked with other public health professionals.
"People all over the world suffer from public health problems, and any help I can provide will be worth it," he said.
This story is the latest in a series called Dean's Spotlight, featuring outstanding students from the College of Education and Health Professions. Visit COEHP's online magazine, The Colleague, for more news on the six units that make up the College. Visit the Health, Human Performance, and Recreation page to learn more about COEHP's health promotion programs.