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Caregiver to Inaugural Professor

Thursday, Mar. 07, 2013

Inaugural Professor reception, John Allen, Terry Peak, Stan Albrecht
Professor Terry Peak (center) with College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean John Allen (left) and USU President Stan Albrecht (right) at her Inaugural Professor Lecture presentation and reception.

Utah State University social work professor grew up watching her parents take care of their parents. Through that example her parents taught the importance of family.


“My parents were excellent role models, they were always kind and caring with older relatives and they came from a generation of very tight knit families who needed to help each other in order to succeed,” said Peak.


This experience led Peak to an interest in caregiving and improving the quality of care for older adults.


Peak gave her Inaugural Lecture Series presentation Feb. 21, the ninth lecture of this academic year’s installment. Her lecture, “And then we came to the end – what is a liberal New Yorker doing in such a strange land,” described her career and how it evolved.


Peak graduated with both her master’s and doctorate from the State University of New York at Albany. She began her career there as a gerontologist focused on family caregiving.


“I learned no matter how dysfunctional the family, families care for their members,” she said. “I especially think about Robert Frost’s The Hired Hand, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”


Peak considered working with displaced homemakers before choosing gerontology because of the research opportunities available in the School of Social Welfare at the State University New York at Albany.


“In social work once you have a doctorate, career options change. My former experiences at the Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany, and at the Ringel Institute of Gerontology helped put my career in focus,” said Peak.


Peak moved to USU in 1994 with her husband, Dr. David Peak, a physics professor at USU.


Peak’s current research interests include quality of care for older adults and men’s health, especially Latino men.


“My research into men’s health looks at hegemonic masculinity, a term used to describe prototypical male behavior,” she said. “This includes predilection for risky behaviors, ignoring pain, never seeking medical attention unless a limb is falling off and exploring whether older men are wiser about that than are younger ones.”


Peak’s research has been cited multiple times, and through Google Scholar, one can track who has cited it.


“I like my research to have some practical application and Google Scholar gives you an indication of how useful your research has been. One article about Latino men’s health is cited on and linked to the DHHS Office of Minority Health website and that’s pretty cool,” said Peak.


Peak helped establish the social work master’s program at USU, and is currently the director of the social work program.


“The MSW is a significant accomplishment. The MSW enables access to clinical practice education, and since our MSW is offered at regional campuses throughout Utah we provide these enhanced opportunities in under-served regions of Utah,” said Peak.


Moving from New York City to Logan, Utah, was a big change for Peak, but she has found USU a welcoming place.


“USU students have always been a pleasure to work with, as have been as my wonderful colleagues,” said Peak.


Related links:


Contact: Terry Peak, 435-797-4080, terry.peak@usu.edu

Writer: Jaron Dunford, 920-246-2863, jaron.dunford@gmail.com

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