Students & Community

Transforming Students into Leaders

ECLIPSE provides undergraduate students with meaningful opportunities for growth

Man standing with arms crossed

Nicholas Koshy is president of the ECLIPSE Activities Board. Photo credit: Robert Hall.

icon of a calendarApril 26, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Nina Googasian

Share this story

The School of Health Sciences launched the Explorations in Collaborative Leadership and Interprofessional Education (ECLIPSE) program in 2017 and participants are thriving. This unique leadership development experience is one of only a few health-science specific programs in the country designed for undergraduates. With students working collaboratively across multiple disciplines, ECLIPSE aims to develop health professionals who positively impact individuals, communities, and populations.

Through workshops, service and continuous reflection, ECLIPSE encourages self-discovery and a space for students to realize the impact that they can make as a leader in their health-related field. The program is centered on the four pillars of interprofessional education (communication, teamwork, roles/responsibilities, and values/ethics). After students attend workshops or lectures, volunteer, or complete team-based work for a class assignment, they submit reflections and engage in peer-mentoring groups relating the core principles of interprofessional education to their experiences. As students progress through the program, they earn Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum designations. To achieve Platinum, ECLIPSE students must also complete a community impact project with their peers.

Senior Nicholas Koshy is a two-year member of the program who reached Platinum level this spring. He serves as president of the ECLIPSE Activities Board (EAB) and as a peer mentor. Koshy is double-majoring in Health Sciences with a concentration in pre-health professional studies and Psychology with a minor in business. He plans on attending medical school upon graduation.

Koshy says ECLIPSE has connected him with a tight community of caring and ambitious health-focused individuals. “Being surrounded by people who share your goals helps motivate you to keep reaching for higher aspirations,” he says. “Together, we are learning how to become better members of a healthcare team and better leaders in general.”

While Koshy’s community impact project was affected by COVID, he was up to the challenge. “My project focused on creating a proposal for the OU-Pontiac Initiative to support Parent University through a wellness conference,” he says. “This offered another great opportunity to practice my leadership and teamwork skills as I had to plan a project that would work within the framework of an ongoing public health crisis.”

Kelli Dowd, coordinator for student services, leadership, and engagement in the School of Health Sciences, has overseen the program for the past three years. “ECLIPSE is designed to help students synergize the skills they are building in their courses with leadership and interprofessional skills in each of our four pillars,” Dowd says. “We help students to understand the different roles in health broadly and how working collaboratively will ultimately keep people healthier and safe. The hope is they are able to apply the interprofessional skills gained through ECLIPSE to become future leaders in health.”

Currently, the program has 90 students with 14 mentoring groups. “Over the past two years, we’ve been able to recruit 30 new and engaged students each fall,” explains Dowd. “This spring we will have our first big group of Platinum graduates, with 11 students.” To date, 14 students have reached Platinum.

Celina Pittiglio got involved with ECLIPSE as a freshman, even before she officially started classes. She heard about the program at a School of Health Sciences information session after getting accepted to OU. “I am proud to say that I am one of the program’s very first members,” says Pittiglio. Vice president of the EAB, Pittiglio recently achieved Platinum standing and will earn her Bachelor of Science in Clinical and Diagnostic Sciences with a specialization in pre-clinical professions in Spring 2021.

One of Pittiglio’s most meaningful experiences in ECLIPSE took place on MLK Day in 2019. “We worked alongside other OU student orgs at the Baldwin Center in Pontiac. ECLIPSE students were assigned the Clothing Closet where we organized various items that were donated and assisted community members who were shopping for clothes,” she recalls. “Helping to provide critical services to the underserved population in Pontiac was very impactful.”

For Pittiglio, developing an ePortfolio as a culminating ECLIPSE experience has been particularly beneficial. “Showcasing my accomplishments as an OU student will help me to stand out as a leader on campus when applying to PA schools and in my subsequent job search,” she says. Pittiglio is confident the skills she has honed in ECLIPSE will take her far in her career.

Brooke Hineman, EAB secretary, agrees that the program is giving her the tools to succeed professionally. She is a junior majoring in Exercise Science and wants to pursue a career in occupational therapy. “ECLIPSE has enriched my OU experience in a way I never thought possible,” Hineman says. “I have already started to utilize the skills I have gained within my current job as a physical therapy technician - how to effectively communicate, the importance of teamwork, and the ability to recognize and lead with my values.”

Hineman says conversations and debates regarding how to handle controversial topics within healthcare have also been worthwhile. “The program has taught me how to handle real-life situations. I know that compassionate, patient-focused care requires active listening without judgment in a team-based, interprofessional environment,” she explains.

“ECLIPSE has allowed me to develop the confidence I need to provide my patients with the best care possible,” says Hineman.

“It is very rewarding to watch students grow and mature through their participation,” says Dowd. “These future health leaders all share a common goal – to help improve patient and community health outcomes.”

For more information on ECLIPSE, visit 

Share this story