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.