UIC Applied Health Sciences Magazine - Summer 2022

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Let’s have fun and not be afraid to fail.

Carlos J. Crespo Dean and professor College of Applied Health Sciences Health Sciences.

UIC Applied Health Sciences Magazine Summer 2022 EDITOR Erika DirectorChavezofmarketing and communications DESIGN Heidi WebmasterSchlehleinandgraphic designer CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sonya Booth, Kelsey Schagemann CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS UIC Creative and Digital Services, UIC Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications ©2022 University of Illinois at Chicago. All rights reserved. Published by the Office of the Dean, UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, 808 S. Wood St., 169 CMET, Chicago, IL 60612-7305. Views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor, the college or university. You might notice abbreviations throughout this issue. They correlate to academic units and pro grams in the College of Applied

MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN Telephone (312) 996-6695 Fax (312) 413-0086 E-mail eachavez@uic.edu Website ahs.uic.edu AT Athletic Training BHI Biomedical and Health Informatics BHIS Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences BVIS Biomedical Visualization DHD Department of Disability and Human Development DIS Disability Studies HI Health Informatics HIM Health Information Management KINES Kinesiology KN Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition MLS Medical Laboratory Sciences NUT Nutrition OT Department of Occupational Therapy PT Department of Physical Therapy RS Rehabilitation Sciences

"The beginning is always today." — Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley I am extremely honored to have the op portunity to serve as the next dean of the College of Applied Health Sciences. Each of us plays an important role in making the college better every day. Two of the award-winners recognized in this issue—academic adviser Whitney Harris and student tutor Amanda Montoney—il lustrate how our individual and collective contributions are paramount to the suc cess of our students. Faculty members like Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, one of this year’s University Scholars, are influential researchers and teachers whose work focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion.

In getting to know the college, I have come to appreciate its remark able tapestry of specialties, interests and talents. It was a surprise and delight to read, in the magazine’s Alumni Highlights section, about the many unexpected career paths some of our graduates have Theretaken!areinternal and external challenges ahead for higher educa tion, health care and workforce development. Change is constant, from climate change and demographic shifts to advancement in technology and data science. Through courses like the DHD 400 ser vice-learning capstone, our students learn the real-world skills they need to take on the future. I envision a college where we leverage innovative ideas to match the transformation of the health ecosystem, as BHIS faculty are doing in clinical informatics. The degree to which we collaborate across disciplines—like our partnership with UI Health in the new 55th and Pulaski Collaborative health center—will dictate how we educate our students to prevent and treat the human conditions that negatively impact the health of the most vulnerable. I look forward to building creative solutions to our health problems, expanding access to a quality education, and contributing to the ad vancement of life-changing discoveries. In doing so, we shall remain committed to the vision that “every person can live a healthy and self-determined life.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS UIC Applied Health Sciences MAGAZINE Igniting the future The IGNITE campaign, the most ambitious fundraising effort in UIC's history, comes to a close By students, for students, about studentsHighlights from alumni with unexpected career trajectories Equity employmentdisabilityin New clinic serves Southwest Side Features 11322 7 Compassion9 and courage New dean of AHS shares his vision for the college 18 PeopleNotebook @UICAHS On the cover: Carlos J. Crespo in Arthington Mall on the west side of the UIC campus. Service in learning Students use knowledgeclassroom-acquiredtheirtopartner with community organizations for real-world projects14


darkness—that’s how one AHS student described Whitney Harris, academic adviser in kinesiology and winner of the 2022 Provost’s Excellence in Undergraduate Advising Award. Harris is one of only three award-winners among 120 un dergraduate advisers on campus. She joined UIC in 2018 after ex perience as a certified athletic trainer, an athletic academic coordinator at Chicago State University and an academic adviser in kinesiology and physical education at Northern Illinois University.

Fellowship in clinical informatics

NOTEBOOK and Notes

AHS News

The Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences and the Department of Pathology in the College of Medicine have teamed up to offer one of the first clinical informatics fellowships approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The accreditation council defines clinical informatics as “the subspecialty of all medical specialties that transforms health care by analyzing, designing, implementing, and evaluating information and communication systems to improve patient care, enhance access to care, advance in dividual and population health outcomes, and strengthen the clinician-patient relationship.”

Andrew Boyd, associate vice chancellor for research and associate professor of biomedical and health information sciences, is a core faculty member in the clinical informat ics program. Boyd is also chief research information officer in the Office of Research Data Initiatives and Information, in the UIC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.

Whitney Harris

“It’s a delicate balance that often takes someone who is patient and collaborative.”

“We can go from meeting with an associate dean about en rollment management and curriculum to meeting with a high school senior who wants to know how to submit their AP test scores to the university.”

Guidance star A blinding light in a tunnel of

Harris has developed two new kinesiology courses: Diver sity for Health and Fitness, and Introduction to Athletic Training. She leads the selection process for a new pro gram created in partnership with North Park University that directly admits UIC students and alumni to North Park’s master’s program in athletic training. She is co-leader of a new scholarship program for kinesi ology students, which will provide three $500 awards each fall Providingsemester.academic and career guidance to undergraduate students sometimes means finding solutions to difficult “Wesituations.areconstantly navigating sensitive information and relationships, ultimately trying to arrive at an ideal resolu tion for all parties,” Harris says.

Fellows in the two-year program, which began in 2015, take BHIS graduate-level courses together with BHIS students. They work on operational projects across the health care system and conduct research under faculty mentorship. They must also practice medicine during their fellowship.

Being an academic adviser requires knowledge of both student affairs and academic affairs, Harris says.

The team works under the mentorship of Mary Keehn, AHS associate dean for clinical affairs and assistant vice chancellor for interprofessional practice and education; Rashid Ahmed, associate dean of academic affairs at the School of Public Health; and Jerry Krishnan, associate vice chancellor for population health sciences and professor of medicine and public health.

“The big thing was hearing what each student from each college finds valuable and important when we were devel oping the study,” Rocha said. “For example, occupational therapy students wanted to make sure the study was acces sible to students with physical or cognitive disabilities.”

The study, which began enrolling participants in spring 2021, is being conducted in three recruitment phases. Ini tial findings from the first group of 553 students appear as an online preprint in medRxiv.

Ayesha Mohammad ’20 BS NUT and Alex andra Seballaros ’21 BS KINES were also in the original research group.

The study results will be useful for a wide range of research studies. It will also help student affairs staff improve programs that support student health and well-being, Keehn said.

Learn more about the study go.uic.edu/HolisticCohortStudyat.

UIC students and faculty team up for a longitudinal study of health risk and behaviors for health professional students.

A research study by, for, and about UIC health professions students measures demographics, health risk factors and health behaviors, and other factors for health professional students.

The three-year study was developed by a team of 12 students, including Ethan Rocha ’22 DPT, who helped start the project two years ago with medical student Sunil Dommaraju.

“This is really about establishing a way of following stu dents from the time they enter UIC through their education, so we have a better understanding of their health and health behaviors,” Keehn said.

The HOLISTIC study (Health Professional Students at the University of Illinois Chicago) is a longitudinal research project to follow a total of 1,000 UIC students from the seven health sciences colleges.

The study strives for diversity, not only in the demograph ics of the participants but in the different clinical and nonclinical programs in which they are enrolled.

By students, for students, about students


This was the first time two leaders from the same college and university received top honors at an ACSM Tate,meeting.dean from 1999 to 2011, received the 2020 Honors Award, the organization’s highest honor. The award recognizes her long career of outstanding sci entific and scholarly contributions to sports medicine and the exercise sciences.

Fernhall, dean from 2011 to 2022, received the 2021 Citation Award, the organization’s next-highest honor, for his significant contributions to the field.

Under Fernhall’s leadership, the college added two new undergraduate and two PhD programs, as well as fac ulty practice clinics and the AHS Office of Research.

The ACSM 2022 Annual Meeting and World Con gresses was held May 31-June 4 in San Diego.

Tate also served as interim provost and vice chancel lor for student affairs at UIC, as well as professor of disability and human development and kinesiology and nutrition. Her research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association, focused on muscle function during exercise. She was ACSM president in 1997-98.

AHS student enrollment increased 50% and the college has one of UIC’s highest six-year graduation rates for Fernhall’sundergrads.research on exercise physiology, cardiovas cular function and lifetime health focuses on people with disabilities and ethnic and racial disparities. He is president of the National Academy of Kinesiology for 2022-23.

Honors to two dean emeriti


The American College of Sports Medicine presented its highest awards to dean emeritus Bo Fernhall and dean emerita Charlotte “Toby” Tate at the organiza tion’s 2022 annual meeting.


Bo Fernhall Charlotte "Toby" Tate

“I drew on the history of adoption policy, disability histo ry, women’s history, the history of childhood, of family, of psychology and psychiatry, and U.S. history,” Sufian says.

“Her passion for social justice and equity permeates her teaching, research and service,” said Susan Magasi, OT and DHD associate professor, who nominated Suarez-Bal cazar for the award.

Sufian has a PhD in Middle East studies from New York University and an MPH in epidemiology and biostatistics from Oregon Health and Science University. Her work follows an interdisciplinary, nontraditional path, combining the history of medicine and history of disability in the Middle East and the U.S. She teaches courses on the history of disability and the modern history of medicine and public health to medical students, PhD students and undergraduates.

The article, the most downloaded report from the American Journal of Community Psychology, is often used by attorneys to fight family separations at deportation court hearings. She received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of Kansas, where she earned master’s and doc toral degrees.

These questions drew her to write “Familial Fitness: Disability, Adoption and Family in Modern Amer ica,” the first social history of disability and difference in American adoption during the 20th century.

For her next project, Sufian is studying female health issues among women with chronic illness, using a patient-cen tered approach.

Disability, adoption and family


Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar

University scholar

In the past, children with disabilities have waited years to be adopted in the U.S., but the issues and attitudes used to determine their adoptability have long been unexplored.

Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, professor and outgoing head of occupational therapy who is internationally recognized for her community-based participatory research on health disparities, wellness and disability in the Latinx commu nity, was named a 2022-23 University Scholar by the UI Office of the President. The three-year award honors su perior performance in scholarly activities for research and teaching and great promise for future achievements.

In 2018, she was co-author of a report by the Amer ican Psychology Associ ation on U.S. immigrant policy and the psychoso cial and economic impacts of forced deportation on children and families.

The book, published by University of Chicago Press, took over 11 years to complete because of its scope and complexity.

She combed the Social Welfare History Archives of the University of Minnesota, the National Archives, the National Library of Medicine and the archives of the American Association of Pediatrics for primary sources.

Throughout her career, Suarez-Balcazar has been known for her commitment to community-based participatory re search, working with Latinx children and families to develop culturally relevant interventions that promote healthy life styles. Her work focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“How do ideologies around disability and risk translate into policies and practices for adop tion? How can we understand the complexity around the social conditions that influence health, medicine and disability?” Sufian asks.

“I see access to family as the first fundamental need of people with disability,” says Sandy Sufian, professor of dis ability and human development in the College of Applied Health Sciences and associate professor of health human ities and history in the College of Medicine.

Anwar Jebran, Andrew Boyd, Karl Kochendorfer, Yassine Zarhloule and Miiri Kotche (from left to right) at the ceremonial signing of the agreement.

Faculty from the Innovation Center, College of Medicine, University Library and School of Public Health presented virtually, as well as nine BHIS faculty: professor and head Kal Pasupathy, BVIS associate director Leah Lebowicz, clinical associate professor Eric Swirsky, assistant profes sors Ashley Hughes and Elizabeth Papautsky and clinical assistant professors Margaret Czart, Lois Hitchcock, Miriam Isola and Laura Mills.


Faculty in biomedical and health information sciences are working with other UIC colleagues on a new collaboration in clinical informatics with University of Mohammed Premier in Oujda, Morocco.

There are plans to hold a conference at UIC within the next two years.


Four UIC faculty presented in person at the conference in Morocco: Boyd; Karl Kochendorfer, UI Health chief health information officer; Miiri Kotche, clinical professor of biomedical engineering; and Anwar Jebran, a fellow in the pathology department’s clinical informatics program.

The collaboration will begin with the development of a clinical informatics curriculum.

“We are excited about the partnership between UMP and UIC and looking forward to a long-term collabora tion in the field of research, student exchange, profes sors exchange and more,” said the university’s president, Yassine Zarhloule.

The collaboration began with a conference in mid-May to introduce clinical informatics to faculty and students at the Moroccan university’s colleges of medicine and “Theypharmacy.arejust beginning their journey in the digitalizing of health care,” said Andrew Boyd, BHIS associate pro fessor, adding that there is a lack of expertise in health informatics worldwide.

“It’s an area that’s been severely under-researched,” Cald well said.

“The Disability Economic Justice Collective will be more policy focused,” Caldwell said. “They’ll take the research that we’re doing and put it into action.”

The Nexus Project is a member of the new Disability Economic Justice Collective, an initiative of more than 20 disability rights organizations, research groups and Wash ington, D.C.-based think tanks, funded by the Century Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

One goal is to encourage research by scholars who are disabled and disabled people of color.

Ross Arena, professor and head of physical therapy, and PT facul ty members Grenita Hall and Richard Severin were guest editors for the MarchApril 2022 Vol. 71 issue of the bimonthly journal Progress in Cardiovascular Dis eases, which focused on the need for social justice in healthy liv ing and healthy living medicine.

The first step for the Nexus Project is to complete a litera ture review that gathers past scholarship on disability and economic justice. Next, they’ll conduct interviews with disabled people of color across the country to document experiences with racial bias, employment and economic Thedisparity.project will also set up a panel of experts—primarily disabled people of color—as a resource for policy makers and federal agencies.

“We want to help create a pathway for them to do this work, then give them a foundation from which to ad vance,” she said.

Social justice, healthy living

Others involved with the project include co-PIs Rooshey Hasnain, DHD clinical assistant professor; Brenda Parker, associate dean in the College of Urban Planning and Pub lic Affairs; and research director Sumithra Murthy

The issue also includes articles by PT faculty members Lindsey Strieter, Deepika Laddu and Shane Phillips, as well as other researchers. Topics explored in the issue include COVID-19 outcomes, tobacco use, public policy, telehealth, and public health campaigns as related to disparities in race, ethnicity, age and income, not only in the U.S. but Latin America and Africa.

Equity in disability employment

“Now is the time to incorporate the tenets of social justice into a proactive, primary prevention approach to health care; all individuals, irrespective of race, ethnicity, socio economic status, education level, etc., should have equal access to healthy living and healthy living medicine.”

“What do we mean when we say disability economic jus tice?” asks Kate Caldwell ’14 PhD DHD Caldwell, DHD clinical as sistant professor, is principal investigator on a $300,000 Ford Foundation grant for the Nexus Project, which will produce research that defines this issue and informs public policy. The project focuses on racial bias and equity in disability employment.


“Society should do all in its power to create systems and environments supporting healthy living behaviors where individuals live, work, and go to school. Unfortunately, we are far from this goal and have been entrenched in un healthy lifestyle and chronic disease pandemics for years,” they wrote in an editorial introducing the issue.

“Our students learn the skills to acquire, analyze and pro tect health information vital to providing quality patient care,” said Karen Patena, recently retired BHIS clinical associate professor and director of the online program.

“Amanda can navigate and figure out anything,” said her supervisor, Viviana Kabbabe-Thompson, assistant dean for student affairs.


For the 10th consec utive year, the AHS online program in health amongprogramsbachelor’sofmanagementinformationisonethreeUIConlinedegreerankedthebestin

For her organizational skills and passion for helping others, Amanda Montoney ’22 BS DHD was named 2022 UIC Stu dent Employee of the Year by the campus Student Employment Office. Montoney organizes on line and in-person tutoring sessions as tutor adminis trator of the AHS Academ ic Support and Achievement Program (ASAP), keeping track of 12 to 18 student tutors who help several hundred undergraduates each semester. She also helps train tutors, documents ASAP services, and still finds time to do some tutoring herself.

UIC is No. 3 in the country in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. The UIC ranking also includes programs in business administration and Thenursing.bachelor’s degree completion program in health infor mation management teaches students to manage and use information and information systems for health care plan ning, resource allocation and executive decision-making.

the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Montoney, who started tutoring as a senior in high school, joined ASAP in the second half of her freshman year at AHS. Kabbabe-Thompson promoted her to tutor adminis trator the next semester.


“Our graduates are in demand to work in a variety of health care settings, from large academic medical centers to insurance companies to information technology ven dors,” Patena said.

U.S. News ranked 384 schools offering bachelor’s degree programs online based on four general criteria, including engagement, student services and technologies, faculty credentials and training, and expert opinion.

“Her due diligence doesn’t go unnoticed. Professors, stu dents and staff have commented in appreciation of her many talents and her ‘can do’ attitude to any idea presented.”

Amanda Montoney

UIC’s online bachelor’s degree programs are part of the UIC Extended Campus.

Felecia Williams succeeded Patena as director of the on line program, effective April 16.

Award-winning tutor

“My dream is to open my own clinic,” she said.

In the meantime, she wants to continue working at the tutoring center. “It’s been one of the best things about my undergrad experience,” she said.

Montoney majored in disability and human development with a minor in psychology. She’s passionate about disability studies—she tutors two DHD courses and enjoys discussing disability issues and opportunities with her clients. She will begin doctoral studies in occupational therapy at UIC this fall. She eventually plans a practice in pediatrics, possibly using equine-assisted therapy.

Excellence in health information management education

The new center began see ing patients in February as services are gradually phased in. Phillips said remodeling is underway for the AHS-run clinic on the third floor, which will initially provide OT for pediatric patients and PT for all ages. Details are being finalized for nutrition services, especially in diabetes management, and disability services focused on autism, he added. Other services, including PT cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary care, may be added later.

To read additional news and notes about AHS research, visit ahs.uic.edu/news/archive.

A clinic providing PT, OT, disability and nutritional ser vices by AHS faculty, staff and students will open this fall in UI Health’s 55th & Pulaski Collaborative, a new com prehensive care center on the Southwest Side.


UIC leaders celebrate the 55th & Pulaski Health Collaborative, a comprehensive clinical care center at 5525 S. Pulaski Road, with partners at a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 20. The center will include an AHS-run clinic offering physical therapy, occupational therapy, nutrition counseling and disability services.

“There’s a high rate of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer in that area,” said Shane Phillips, PT professor and AHS senior associate dean for clinical affairs. “There is a very large community need, and our college has great expertise.”

Students in clinical programs will gain additional op portunities for hands-on clinical training and experi ence working with colleagues in other health disciplines, Phillips said. He also sees a role for students throughout the college in developing wellness education classes for the community—a need emphasized by area residents.

New clinic serves Southwest Side

The center, a partnership with UIC health sciences colleges and community-based health care providers, will offer health screenings and specialty services, including derma tology, surgery, oncology, dental care, and behavioral and mental health care.

Initial funding for the cen ter, at 5525 S. Pulaski Road in the Gage Park-West Els don neighborhood, came from a $15 million grant by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Fami ly Services. Community partners include Alivio Medical Center and Friend Family Health Center.


“When Mercy Hospital closed the clinic, the neighborhood was left with a big hole in their access to health care ser vices,” Keehn said.

Phillips and Mary Keehn, associate dean for clinical affairs, are on the executive advisory board for the 55th & Pulaski Collaborative. They were involved in planning for the facility, located in a building formerly run by Mercy Medical Center.


Endowments are the most influential investments in higher education, creating self-renewing, living legacies that span generations. In an endowment fund, the principal is invested in perpetuity and only a portion of the investment’s earnings is spent. The rest of the earnings are channeled back into the fund, so the endowment grows over time. Funds can be established with a minimum gift of $25,000, paid in a lump sum or pledged over a multi-year period. You can choose to fund your gift with vehicles such as cash, appreciated stock, trusts or bequests. When you create an endowed fund, it is established in your name or the name of a person or organization you wish to honor.

To donate in honor of Joan Wallace Lindsay, visit go.uic.edu/GiveToAHS.


The UIC Joan Wallace Lindsay Endowed Scholarship Fund was established with a gift from Joan Wallace Lindsay ’84 BS PT. The fund supports physical therapy doctoral students with financial need who may have caregiving and living expenses beyond the standard cost of attendance, such as childcare expenses. As a sin gle mother of two young boys, Joan earned a BS in physical therapy at UIC while working full time. She was a physical therapist for 24 years in North Shore Special Education District public schools, where she was dedicated to serving youth with disabilities. On June 2, she died after a long battle with cancer.

To learn more about creating your own endowed fund, contact Kristen Kepnick at 312-996-8219 or kkepnick@uic.edu.

THERE’S A FIRE INSIDE US. It’s the motivation to scan the skyline and say, “go higher.” The determination to celebrate differences and not be bound by Thecircumstance.audacitytosay we’re the ones who will care for this city and cure disease for the world. IGNITING THE FUTURE THE IGNITE CAMPAIGN, THE MOST AMBITIOUS FUNDRAISING EFFORT IN UIC’S HISTORY, COMES TO A CLOSE OUR ENERGY IS AND IT ALL STARTED WITH A SINGLE SPARK... 2022 UIC APPLIED HEALTH SCIENCES MAGAZINE

June 30, 2022: Official close of the eight-year IGNITE campaign. More than 50,000 donors supported UIC with over 137,000 gifts.* a light for the future October 28, 2017: Public launch of the $750 million UIC IGNITE campaign. AHS set an IGNITE fundraising goal of $15 million. the start of a transformative journey THE FLAME THE SPARK Your impact Total raised* 1,100 AT UIC $803,428,419 new gift funds* 29 AT AHS Total raised* $13.6 million new gift funds* *as of 6/30/2022, unaudited “Not only did Dr. Phyllis Bowen help create the very program I attend, but her actionoriented empathy provides me with a model on how to carry myself in the world as a health care professional. In the spirit of Dr. Bowen’s shining example, my goal as a future registered dietitian is to work with and uplift underserved communities. The compassionate nature of the Phyllis and Samuel Bowen Scholarship Fund truly touches my heart, bringing me strength and resolve to successfully earn my MS in nutrition sciences.” Yvonne Izquierdo '23 BS NUT

Eternally grateful View the campaign close video at youtu.be/OYF3Ccg3Npg.

Dunn became interested in biomedical vi sualization in high school when she learned about the profession at the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine.

She developed a bachelor’s program in interdisci plinary studies with emphasis in biology and art at Auburn University, where she graduated in 2016. Dunn was attracted to UIC because of its Chicago location, and to BVIS because “the instructors in the program had lots of enthusiasm and respect for inclusion, diversity, equality and mental health, which really spoke to my personal values andShe’sneeds.”excited by the program’s wide range of opportunities, from vir tual reality to comics, games and traditional illustration techniques, especially surgical illustration and documentation.

Khorizon Dunn ’24 MS BVIS, an artist who wants to use her skills and training to educate underserved communities about public health, has been awarded the first Biomedical Visualization Diversity and Inclu sion Scholarship. The $10,000 award was established to promote diversity and inclusion in the UIC Program in Biomedical Visualization and in the profession.

“The visual medium is a universal way to connect to people of varying backgrounds, and UIC’s Biomedical Visualization program will guide me in honing my skills to do so efficiently and effectively," she said.

Universal timing We are deeply grateful for your generosity in helping us inspire discovery, transform health care practice and social systems, and positively impact the lives of Chicago residents and communities around the world.

learning in Service

Students use their classroom-acquired knowledge about intersectionality, advocacy, accessibility, social justice and human rights to partner with community organizations for real-world projects.

The course, which enrolls up to 75 students, matches them with one of 25 Chicago-area organizations serving the disability community. The students work in teams to create an action project for the “Intersectionality,organization.advocacy, accessibility, social justice, human rights—these are concepts they’re exposed to in their DHD courses. As part of their capstone experience, they learn how to apply them,” Hasnain said.

For all their time and hard work, students who take DHD 400 earn one credit on their transcript. But they also gain skills in project management, team building, networking, critical thinking and problem solving. Best of all, they use their classroom-acquired knowledge about disability studies for a real-world project, working with a community organization that relies on them to develop a project and follow it through.

“It's set up to be quite demanding in a meaning ful and practical way,” says Rooshey Hasnain, DHD clinical assistant professor, of the capstone service-learning course. “But at the end, the students find themselves transformed in terms of leadership roles and advocacy work, no matter what discipline and profession they go into.”

“The students are wonderful to work with, as they help inform our practice and help us test and fine-tune pro cesses that engage the community, that facilitate dia logue around important topics and issues,” said executive director Ginger Leopoldo.

One team developed a virtual Community Care Kit, col lecting resources and making them accessible by creat ing transcripts for podcasts and text-only infographics.

One group conducted interviews and produced the pod cast “From Stigma to Mad Pride: Fighting for Visibility,” on Asian Americans and mental health.

The spring 2022 CIRCA Pintig capstone team created a survey for college students about resilience and mental health to commemorate Mental Health Awareness Month. They planned a roundtable discussion for their podcast “(Re)Silence Defined.”

Rooshey Hasnain

Rosas and other DHD 400 students interviewed key fig ures in the Chicagoland disability community for a series of videos posted on the coalition’s YouTube channel. Her team also organized and publicized an online vigil for people in the disability community who died in 2020.

“The students bring so much existing understanding and dedication—as well as curiosity and openness to learning about particular issues and practice,” said Margaret Fink, director of the UIC Disability Cultural Center, which began working with DHD 400 students in spring 2020.

“You'recourse.working with real community organization sites, and they're very open to your ideas. "They treat you as an equal member. It helps build your confidence in being able to pursue future projects.”

“We know not all students are going to be disability activists, but they will learn the full concepts and skills that are needed to support the community as an ally or a member,” said Sydney Erlikh, one of two DHD doctoral candidates who lead the course with Hasnain.

Other DHD 400 partners include the UIC Assistive Tech nology Unit, Cambodian Association of Illinois, Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce, Digital Tapestries, and the ReVive Center for Housing and Healing, among other Chicago-area nonprofits.

The Chicago nonprofit CIRCA Pintig (Center for Immigrant Resources and Community Arts) has partnered with DHD 400 students since 2019.

“When I finished my undergraduate program, I felt very confident and excited to practice all the new skills that I had,” she said. Most of the students who take the course are juniors and seniors majoring in rehabilitation sciences, psychology, sociology, business or nursing.

Rosas said DHD 400 is more like an internship than a

“Getting the opportunity to understand what disabil ity studies looks like in practice is important,” added Adrienne Smith, DHD doctoral candidate, who is also a course leader. For the organizations partnering in the DHD capstone projects, the students supply energy, enthusiasm and Gen Z skills in social media, podcasting and marketing.

Nereida Rosas ʼ21 BS RS, now a master’s student in occupational therapy, did her capstone project with the Chicagoland Disabled People of Color Coalition. Her team worked on an awareness campaign for passage of the Illinois Com munity Emergency Services and Support Act, which re quires that a team of mental health professionals, instead of police, respond to emergency calls related to mental health support.

“Learning how to organize and think about things in the context of the population you're helping and serving—that was one of the biggest skills I developed,” Rosas said. She now uses what she learned in her OT graduate stud ies and as a leader in the UIC chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity.

“At UIC, we really value community engagement. In this class, we were given the oppor tunity to do it, to take control over the direction of our learning,” she said. Nereida Rosas

Reel Abilities Film Festival and the South Asian Perspective

Photo: Rooshey Hasnain

Service-learning sites for DHD 400 students include groups involved in policy, advocacy, service, research, the arts and humanities. We are grateful to all of our partners.

The students' project included readings of stories collected from storytellers and an exhibit of Shah’s art.

Immigrant and Refugee-Led Capacity Development Network of Illinois Inclusive Dance Workshops, Access Living International Organization for Adolescents

Chicagoland Disabled People of Color Coalition Coalition of Immigrant Mental Health

Japanese American Service Committee

Connecting Dots International Digital DisabilityTapestriesImmigration

The ARC of Illinois U.S. Census Bureau

Partner sites

New NorthwesternStar

ReVive:ReinventAbilityExhibitCenterforHousing and Healing

Self Advocacy Alliance

UIC Institute on Disability and Human Development

UIC Disability and Human Development Student Association

Bullets 4 CambodianLifeAssociation of Illinois/National Cambodian Heritage Museum and Killing Fields Memorial Center for Immigrant Resources and Community Arts

UIC African American Cultural Center


Fall 2019 DHD 400 students with artist Grishma Shah (front row left), Ginger Leopoldo (front row right) and Rooshey Hasnain (far right) at an event in collabo ration with CIRCA Pintig at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.

UIC Assistive Technology Unit

UIC Certificate Program in Co-Operative Career Experience

Grupo Salto Illinois Association of People Supporting Employment Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services

UIC Disability Cultural Center

Taskforce of Illinois, Access Living Disability Justice Mentoring Collective, Access Living Family Clinic, UIC Department of Disability and Human Development

Advocacy, Great Lakes ADA Center Agents of Hope Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank Battersea Arts Centre

Chicago ChicagolandADAPTDisability Studies Conference

Exercise Now Chicago Mapping Disability Project, UIC Department of Disability and Human Development Native American Support Program

Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce

UIC Asian American Resource and Cultural Center

UIC Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition

UIC Office of Career Services

Illinois Center for Independent Living Partners of Refugees in Illinois Disability Employment Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic ProgressEngagementCenter for Independent Living

Iraqi Mutual Aid Society

Sibling Leadership Network

Accessible Cities Project, Great Lakes ADA Center

Everything you’ve been through has prepared you to make a difference and change the world for the better. Your patience, leadership, strength and skills in improvising and innovating will serve you well as you move forward. You are ready to transform health care practice and social systems, creating a world in which every person can live a healthy and self-determined life. Thanks to you, we are confident that the future is in good hands. We’re #UICProud of APPLIEDCONGRATULATIONSyou!HEALTHSCIENCESCLASSOF2022! Visit ahs.uic.edu/alumni to begin your lifelong relationship with your alma mater.

The new dean recently sat down with the magazine to discuss his goals for the future, his passions, and how he wants to make an impact at UIC.


On Aug. 15, the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences welcomed Carlos J. Crespo as its new dean. Crespo is nationally known for his work in undergraduate and graduate education, his commitment to diversity and inclusion in the health disciplines, and his research on minority health issues. He is experienced in academic leadership and strategic planning, as well as interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration. Crespo, whose research focuses on the epidemiology of physical activity in prevention of chronic diseases, was among the top-ranked principal investi gators funded by NIH in 2021. He has written more 100 published articles and contributed to five textbooks on minority health and sports medicine. He is the author of more than 20 government reports, including the 1996 Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health.

Crespo received a U.S. Secretary of Health Award for Distinguished Service. He was named a Minority Health and Health Disparities Scholar by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. He serves on a CDC advisory committee for the Community Guide for Physical Activity and the Built Environment; the Physical Activity Alliance Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee; the Executive Steering Committee of the Diversity Program Consortium of NIH; and the Oregon Latino Health Coalition. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Crespo earned a DrPH in public health at Loma Linda University, a master’s in sports health at Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s in chemistry from Inter American University in Puerto Rico.

Learn more about Dean Crespo at go.uic.edu/AHSDeanCrespo.


The other thing I found very appealing is that UIC is a Hispanic-serving institution. Some universities check the box that they’re Hispanic-serving institutions, but they absolutely do not have a huge institutional commitment from top to bottom. That wasn’t the case at UIC. And the last thing I’ll say is that it’s a comprehensive university. You have liberal arts. You have professional schools. You have a medical school. And it’s in a great city. I don’t want to keep talking about where I came from, but at Portland State University, there’s a motto: “Let knowledge serve the city.” If you’re not interested in serving the city, it’s not a good fit. And I think UIC has that in its DNA, too. Some of your research has focused on health disparities and inequities, and you’ve worked throughout your career to enhance opportunities for underrepresented students. How do you intend to leverage those experiences as dean? You’re right that this is personal for me; I’ve been doing this work for decades. Suddenly, it’s fashionable to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion. It took COVID-19 to lay bare the fact that we’ve had health inequities all along. It took a disease where everybody was dying, but some people were dying at a higher rate—people of color, people in rural areas, people with disabilities—to pull up the curtain. Why? It’s access, it’s lack of diversity in the workforce, it’s priorities. This is partly why we need a diverse workforce. That’s where UIC comes in. Our patients are diverse, and we need to match that. I’m talking about race and ethnicity, but it’s also urban and rural, religion, gender. I think we are probably the best positioned university to prepare health care professionals—not just for Chicago, but for the entire state. We need to make the connections and be a partner to help make sure that happens.

I also want to mention something else about inequities and the pandemic. The pandemic left some students be hind. Universities everywhere moved to online teaching, and then we realized students didn’t have computers, didn’t have internet. We can’t let that happen again. We only hurt ourselves if we continue to provide the best ed ucation to those who have the most resources. We need an equitable infrastructure that serves all our students. As you step into this role, what are the most pressing priorities?

Enrollment is a big hallmark. Funding is determined on how many students are coming in, how many students graduate. We’re in a good place, but there is a challenge coming our way: we have fewer students graduating from high school now than 10 years ago. That’s something we can’t change—we call it the demographic cliff. So that’s an immediate challenge. How do we retain stu dents? How do we graduate them? How do we build the pipeline? It’s going to require developing collaborations with community colleges and high schools and estab lishing partnerships built on trust. That’s at the under graduate level. At the graduate level, we might want to think about new programs. Are we content with what we have or are there opportunities to grow?

I’m like a kid in a candy store because there are so many things we can do. But we have to prioritize. We need to have logs in the fire and others ready to go in. If someone asked you to make the case for higher education, and, specifically, a degree in the applied health sciences, what would you say?

There are not a lot of places where the primary goal is to take your brain, your capacity to think, to the next level— to help you learn how to think and solve problems. You go to college because you want to learn more, so you can serve society, serve humanity and do good. The major problems we have as we grow are physical and mental health problems. If you are genuinely inter ested in helping people, the applied health sciences might be the right fit for you. The No. 1 thing you need for this degree? To be a compassionate human being. We have amazing faculty and labs. We can teach you the rest. But you have to be compassionate and committed to help others.

There are many good things about UIC. It’s an urban, research-serving institution. I come from Portland State University, which is similar. I understand the import ant roles this kind of institution plays in the lives of its students. UIC is critical in advancing the career goals of many different types of students: those who cannot afford to move away from home, those who are interest ed in working and going to school, and those who are place-bound to their families and other commitments.

20 What did you find most appealing about coming to UIC?

Answer: All of the above! Crespo’s wife, Ellen Smit, is an epidemiologist. Their family in cludes two daughters, a son and four grandchildren. He loves Latin percussion and owns bongo and conga drums. He has two dogs, a golden retriever and a cocker-span iel/poodle mix (“One is cute and smart; the other is … cute.”). Lastly, he enjoys biking and he’s ready to explore Chicago on two wheels.

What are you most about?excited


Which of the following might you find in his home office?



The people! I don’t have to have all the answers myself. We will work to gether to find solutions. There’s a lot of good we can do for faculty, stu dents and the city. And that’s exciting. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Do you have a message for the alumni reading this magazine? I do. Alumni are very, very important members of this family, and I look forward to getting to know them. I want their input and feedback about what we need to up grade, what’s changing in their fields, whether we need to do things differently. Their voices are crucial. And our students need mentors. They need people who have been in their shoes and are now willing to give back. I’m not talking about money—I’m looking for commit ment. I’m looking for role models. That’s priceless.

A photo of his familyA Bongo drumsB Dog treatsC A bike helmetD

are scaling rapidly and there has never been a time when cybersecurity has been more important. I am thankful to be part of an organization that values its people, their skills and creativity and welcomes input from all. AHS is unique in the sense that it really brings practical, real-world scenarios and experiences into the classroom. I can say that the courses, instructors and experiences I had during my time at AHS set me up for success to approach new experiences in my career in a methodical and practical way."

Carmen Carcone ’95 BS KINES

“Working in rare disease means that mar keting outputs need to resonate in very deliber ate ways for our unique patient and caregiver population. Being a stu dent in an early-adopter master’s program left a mark on me and fueled my appetite to constantly innovate and challenge method ologies to better our creative outcomes. It’s made me a better creative director, strategist, manager and overall problem solv er. The many facets of health care require a multidisciplinary approach. I encourage students and alumni alike to consider how their work could positively impact the advancement across all these challenges in pursuit of better human health.”


“My interest, from the moment I took my first informatics class as an

Sarah Brew ’19 MS OT Assistive technology professional, Numotion

“My position is highly specialized. There are only about 4,000 assistive technology professionals throughout the U.S., and fewer who focus on wheelchairs, seating and mobility. I see the impact of my work in immediate and concrete ways. Most recently, I worked with a 5-year-old client who had never sat in a wheelchair before. It was an amazing moment to see him move around independently for the first time in his life. He had the biggest smile and exclaimed that he wanted to use it at school. I was able to access many amazing assistive technology courses at AHS. The emphasis on client relationships and the Intentional Relation ship Model have been invaluable as I work with clients, thera pists, oncolleaguesmanufacturers,andschoolsadailybasis."

“Winning has always been fun. Although getting everyone on the same page to achieve a common goal is the recipe, when you manage people it’s important to under stand there is no secret formula. You have to take it case-by-case and see what is best for an individual first. I’ve learned from doing different jobs in the game: area scout, field manager, coach, player at UIC, international scout and regional supervisor. AHS has prepared me for all the challenges that come in each of these unique roles, to treat people the way you want to be treated, and to be a good listener and lifelong learner.”

South regional supervisor, Miami Marlins

Governance, risk and compliance lead II, Brex

Christine Armstrong ’92 MS BVIS Director of patient and digital marketing, oncology, Pharmacyclics

Editor’s note: for this section of UIC Applied Health Sciences Magazine, we feature AHS alumni who used their education, training and experience to take their careers in unexpected ways.

Josh Aguiar ’17 BS HIM, ’20 MS HIM


AHS Alumni Highlights

“My job is building a relationship with a cli ent to help guide them through the obstacles they face in their lives— to relieve distress, deep en relationships, find meaning, and under stand themselves better.


Seeing the clients as the center and therefore leader of any care team puts the power where it should be, with the client. It’s their health, it’s their wellbeing, it’s their life. Cultural humility means understanding that despite all I study, I cannot understand the lived experience of a person from another culture.”

Associate director of affordability, UnitedHealth Group

Joseph Lee ’08 DPT Data analytics consultant, Inspire11

Syreeta Kinnard ’03 BS HIM, ’16 MS HI


The greatest success I have is when a client doesn’t need me any more. I was prepared for this role at AHS in two primary ways: by learning about client-centered care and cultural humility.

Principal scientist, Gatorade Sports Science Institute

Staff therapist, Transcend Counseling Chicago

The most rewarding thing about being a therapist is helping cli ents find the tools they need to help themselves.

Michelle King ’10 MS KINES


“Each day, my colleagues and I seek to deliver real value for people and give back to the communities where we live and work. In my current role, I ensure health care affordability for government program members. UIC opened my mind to various health care career options. While enrolled in the health information management and health informatics programs, I learned how to apply analytics, project management, busi ness and technology in effective, nontraditional ways. I understand how many aspects of the in dustry, from legislation changes to operations ef ficiencies, impact health outcomes and health care costs. I have had the pleasure of working in key roles at great orga nizations where I’ve wit nessed the direct impact of my contributions.”

Devin Kelly ’18 BS RS

“I loved learning about how the body adapts to exercise-induced demands. I wanted to learn everything I could to help individ uals perform at their best and feel their best. When I found out that an exercise physiologist was a career, I knew that would be a perfect fit for me. Obtaining my master’s at UIC really solidi fied for me that this is what I wanted to do with my life. What I really enjoyed (and try to do now when I teach) is how the instructors presented the information. It was truly like a puzzle we had to figure out. We were already functioning as research ers and exercise physi ologists; we just didn’t realize it yet! I really enjoy my current role because it gives me a chance to still have my hands in research and publish, teach a variety of populations, provide service to athletes to help them perform, and review potential ergo genic aids that may be helpful for athletes.”

have prepared me in several critical ways. I was well equipped with critical reasoning, learning agility and effective commu nication, while encouraged to keep an open mind. Most impor tantly, people invested in me so that I could invest in others. I've talked to many clients and colleagues over the years and found that many have nonlinear career paths. My own path is a testament, as I've worked as a clinician, manager, leader and researcher in analytics and operations.”

“I'm interested

to align my action with purpose. My role requires me to think deeper when applying sports nutrition principles in practice. Certain nutritional considerations developed for able-bodied athletes may need to be adapted to support nutritional needs for athletes with specific impairments. However, if there is one thing I've learned in my role so far, it's NEVER think some thing may not be possible. Gaining a solid clinical nutrition foundation at AHS has been an advantage working with medically complex athletes. A strong base of medical nutrition therapy, physiology and biochemistry is important when con sidering paraspecific nutritional challenges.”

Stay connected! Exciting life change? New milestone? Ready to get involved? Contact Kristen Kepnick, associate director of engagement and participation, at kkepnick@uic.edu or 312-996-8219.

“I wanted to attach myself to a greater vision, rather than a specific job role. The USOPC's mission is to pursue excellence, lead sonalprofessionalcongruentbelonging.servecourageously,othersandfosterThesearewithmyandpervaluesandhelp

MartaPEOPLEScechura ’15 BS NUT Paralympic sports dietitian, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee

Build your professional network and deepen your connection with your alma mater–and each other. Join the official AHS group for alumni and students at go.uic.edu/AHSLinkedInGroup and follow the official AHS page linkedin.com/school/uicahs .

Edward Mirzabegian ’79 BS MLS 2021 AHS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Recognizing AHS alumni with four awards Find criteria, nomination forms and details of

Honors individuals who, through their service, demonstrate a passion for social justice; seek to promote health equity; and advocate for the full inclusion and participation of all in society. past at go.uic.edu/AHSAlumniAwards





Honors alumni who have graduated within 10 years and whose careers and lives are on the rise. Service Award


Honors alumni who have attained outstanding success and national or international distinction in their chosen profession or life’s work. Award alumni who have made significant, notable and meritorious contributions, and who have consistently demonstrated exceptional loyalty, commitment, dedication and service to the college. Alum

Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

Summer 2022 UIC APPLIED HEALTH SCIENCES MAGAZINE 25 yourselfNominateor a classmate for an AHS alumni award awardanclassmateyourselfNominatetoday!oraforAHSalumnitoday!