Paula Ikävalko is the alumnus of the year 2020 at Karelia UAS

Paula Ikävalko, a year 2018 grad­u­ate from Karelia UAS Degree Programme in Phys­io­ther­apy, has been selected as the alumnus of the year 2020. Ikävalko, who works as a phys­io­ther­a­pist in Fysioter­apia Sulavi, has been actively coop­er­at­ing with Karelia UAS after her graduation.

– Paula has been doing good work in promot­ing mater­nity phys­io­ther­apy both nation­ally and region­ally. She collab­o­rates multi-profes­sion­ally and this multi-profes­sional nature of her actions could already be seen when she was conduct­ing her multi-profes­sional thesis. Ikävalko high­lights Karelia UAS in a posi­tive light, states Lecturer Anu Pukki.

Paula Ikävalko conducted one of her prac­ti­cal train­ings for the Finnish Mater­nity Phys­io­ther­a­pists’ Asso­ci­a­tion and is now a member of board in the asso­ci­a­tion. In North Karelia, Ikävalko has been a board member and an active member of the local parent­hood peer support asso­ci­a­tion Liekku ry.

– The differ­ent aspects of mater­nity phys­io­ther­apy have been discussed in, for example, peer support evenings of Liekku and Akti­ivi­nen Synny­tys ry. I also try to keep my own knowl­edge up-to-date on regional mater­nity phys­io­ther­apy and phys­i­cal mater­nity exer­cise services and the related special exper­tise in the region. I also try to enable the network­ing of local mater­nal phys­io­ther­apy prac­ti­tion­ers with the aim of provid­ing colle­gial support. In addi­tion, I collab­o­rate with other local produc­ers of mater­nity services, such as doulas and Synny­tysko­pla, which offers child­birth classes, breast­feed­ing guid­ance and assis­tance in home births, says Ikävalko.

Paula Ikävalko has attended Karelia UAS phys­io­ther­apy students’ Fyko­fo­rum and talked about her work, her special­i­sa­tion, her study expe­ri­ences and the useful­ness of her studies in working life as well as her own career path.

– When I was still study­ing, there was no sepa­rate mater­nity phys­io­ther­a­pist train­ing avail­able in Finland, but I had to oppor­tu­nity to study mater­nity clinic work, sexual and repro­duc­tive health care, and breast­feed­ing guid­ance with Kare­lian UAS public health nursing students. I had my five-month-old baby with me when I was attend­ing the Fyko­fo­rum who also had some­thing to say on the subject from time to time.

Paula Ikävalko was posi­tively surprised by the news of becom­ing selected as the alumnus of the year.

– When I regis­tered as an alumnus, I did read about the tradi­tion of select­ing an alumnus of the year each year and I do remem­ber admir­ing alumni’s achieve­ments in their own fields. I guess I am a tradi­tional Finn, under­rat­ing myself and not being able to see my achieve­ments, but after reading the reasons for my selec­tion, I can say that I agree with them. I am very grate­ful for this honor and proudly repre­sent my field and my previ­ous UAS.

The alumnus of the year was now selected for the fourth time at Karelia UAS. The word alumnus (plural alumni) refers to all students grad­u­ated from Karelia UAS and the previ­ous North Karelia Univer­sity of Applied Sciences/North Karelia Poly­tech­nic as well as our inter­na­tional exchange students. The aim of alumni activ­i­ties is to promote the connec­tion between Karelia UAS and working life and to support the emer­gence of coop­er­a­tion between students and local busi­nesses. Karelia UAS alumni can, for example, work as expert lectur­ers in study units, invite student groups for study excur­sions at their work­places, provide students with intern­ships, projects and thesis topics, and act as mentors prepar­ing students for working life.