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.