This Year’s Speakers

This Year’s Speakers


Heather Von Bank: “Why Kids Need to Take Risks”

Why is it that, while many may shy away from the idea of “risky play,” Heather Von Bank encourages it? As the Department Chair of Family Consumer Science at MNSU, Heather is going to discuss the importance and benefits of play. Learn how play, especially “risky play,” supports children’s physical, mental, and social-emotional development.  

Dan Sachau: “A Key to Happiness”

It’s true money can’t buy happiness, but do you know why? Dan Sachau teaches in the Psychology Department at MNSU and studies life satisfaction. He will talk about the link between money and happiness and the problem of rising expectations.  

Tori Petersen: “F the File”

While spending years in the foster care system, Tori could only imagine what her case file said about her when her foster parents would say, “You’re a better kid than your file portrays.” After emancipating from the foster care system the day she turned 18, Tori has dedicated her life to improving the brokenness of the system. After conducting social experiments around the effects of first impressions on long term relationships, Tori believes there are better solutions to the typical case file that would give foster youth higher confidence and give them greater chances to find their forever families. 

Coralyn Musser: “Elevating Your Culture Through Community Service”

We hear about company core values, but how can compassion and generosity be built into the core of company culture? Coralyn Musser, currently pursuing her MBA here at MNSU, has attempted to answer this question by ramping up volunteer efforts of companies. The positive outcomes uncovered by the initiative of helping others will be discussed in Coralyn’s talk.

Cindra Kamphoff: “Brain Training Like a Champion”

Being a top athlete requires physical training, but how do they mentally train? Cindra Kamphoff, professor of Sport, Performance, and Exercise Psychology in the Department of Human Performance, will explain how to apply the same mental principles used by elite athletes to the events of everyday life.  

Jonathan Hicks: “Exploring Wildlife-Inspired Awe”

Can you think of a time when nature just left you in “awe?” Jonathan Hicks, associate professor in the Department of Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services at MNSU, most definitely can. Fascinated with wildlife at a young age, Jonathan will seek to explore the stories of wildlife-inspired awe and how such stories can apply to the management setting.

Brian Frink: “Taking Risks in Art and Life”

How can art be seen throughout the many aspects of life? Interested in art from a young age, Brian Frink’s experiences expanded in the art-forward neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Brian has since received his Master’s of Fine Arts, been named a Distinguished Faculty Scholar at MNSU, and maintains a studio practice. He will discuss the art of taking risks in life.

Erin Gonzalez: “Ditching the Food Police for Internal Wisdom”

The shortcomings of dieting are something that Erin Gonzalez is very familiar with. As a registered dietitian at the Mankato Clinic, Erin uses her knowledge of diet culture and relationships with food in the practical as well as the educational setting. She will use her expertise to discuss freeing ourselves from food rules and listening to our own internal hunger. 

Thad Shunkwiler: “Fostering Resilience by Delaying Gratification”

Since 2019, U.S. life expectancy has declined due to addiction and suicide. Thad Shunkwiler, Licensed Behavioral Health Provider and Professor in the Department of Health Science, studies how resilience prevents these “deaths of despair.” He will teach us how to build resilience in our own lives. 

Kristen Cvancara: “Communication Patterns that Harm Our Heart and Health”

Hurtful communication commonly occurs in all types of close relationships, so how do we avoid the harm it causes? Kristen Cvancara, Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at MNSU, will discuss how to recognize and disrupt harmful messages to improve your overall happiness and well-being.

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