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A residency unlike any other Local organization provides funding in support of artists with disabilities


Message from the Dean

The future is female-identified “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” ­—―Shirley Chisholm Inclusion is an often-heard word these days, as people who have long been marginalized by society step forward to claim the equity and equality they deserve. We’re proud to say that the concept of inclusion is not new to our college or our campus—it’s an important part of our mission. In this issue of AHS Magazine, we highlight three women who are working toward inclusion in different areas. Susan Kahan, a psychologist in the Developmental Disabilities Family Clinic, is a consultant who advises investigators and prosecutors on criminal cases that involve survivors and witnesses who have developmental disabilities. She educates law enforcement officers about the behaviors associated with developmental disabilities like autism. Her goal: better, more collaborative relationships between law enforcement, prosecutors and people in the disability community. Patricia Walker ’73 bs mls, a first-generation college student, used her own life experiences in working toward inclusion throughout her impressive academic career. She helped establish allied health colleges at two universities, recently retiring as founding dean of the College of Health Professions at Sacred Heart University. In her lecture at the annual conference of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (which I was privileged to hear), Dr. Walker raised concerns about diversity in allied health higher education and professional practice. An excerpt of her lecture appears in this issue; I think you’ll find it thought-provoking. Carrie Sandahl, DHD associate professor, has established a UIC artist-in-residency program for artists with disabilities, partnering with 3Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. The residency offers mentoring and connections with cultural institutions, as well as an exploration of disability culture and disability studies. “That’s why it’s at UIC,” Sandahl says—an attitude speaks volumes about the impetus toward inclusion in our college.

AHS MAGAZINE Winter 2020 EDITOR Erika Chavez Director of Marketing and Communications DESIGN Kimberly Hegarty UIC Creative and Digital Services Heidi Schlehlein Webmaster and Graphic Designer CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sonya Booth, Jeffron Boynés, Jacqueline Carey, Kelsey Schagemann, Natasha Wadlington CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS UIC Creative and Digital Services 2020 University of Illinois at Chicago. All rights reserved. Published by the Office of the Dean, UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, 808 South Wood Street, 169 CMET, Chicago, Illinois 60612-7305. ©

Telephone Fax E-mail Website

(312) 996-6695 (312) 413-0086 advanceahs@uic.edu ahs.uic.edu

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 in the College of Applied Health Sciences. AT

Athletic Training

BHIS Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences BVIS Program in Biomedical Visualization DHD Department of Disability and Human Development DIS Programs in Disability Studies HI

Program in Health Informatics

HIM Program in Health Information Management KINES

Programs in Kinesiology

KN Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition

Bo Fernhall Dean and Professor College of Applied Health Sciences


Medical Laboratory Sciences


Programs in Nutrition

OT Department of Occupational Therapy PT

Department of Physical Therapy


Programs in Rehabilitation Sciences



FEATURES 13 Let’s go far together  AHS alumna Patricia Walker wants us to go far 16

To serve and protect

AHS clinician provides those who work in the justice system with the skills to better serve people with developmental disabilities


A residency unlike any other

Local organization provides funding in support of artists with disabilities



A new approach to health tech


Rising through the ranks


Remembering Ruth George



AHS Connection: Highlights from alumni gatherings

On the cover: A recreation of “Las dos Fridas” by Reveca Torres from the “Tres Fridas” project, a collaboration by Reveca Torres, Mariam Pare and Tara Ahern.



Photos: Jenica Lee

Transfer training

Student volunteers in occupational therapy and physical therapy conducted training workshops for more than 300 home health care aides at the Chinese American Service League Sept. 23-25. The two-hour workshops on functional transfer were led by Jenica Lee, OT assistant professor, and Shamali Dusane, doctoral candidate in physical therapy. This was the third time since 2016 that the workshops have been presented. “I wanted to find a meaningful way of giving back to the community,” said Lee, who was born and grew up around Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood. The training, which Lee developed with Tanvi Bhatt, PT associate professor, is an interdisciplinary opportunity for OT and PT students to practice their skills in a natural setting, Lee said. 2



Participating students included: Top photo, left to right: (back row) Hector Aguirre PT, Christian Torres PT, Gaurav Dambal PT; (second row) Edwina Wilson PT, Samiksha Tawade PT, Sonia Pradhan PT, Hannah Gin OT, Victoria Turnbull OT, Anthony Mercado OT, Aubrey Day OT, Lindsay MacCary OT, Falguni Kulkarni PT, Swaranka Deshmukh PT, Sareena Denis OT, assistant professor Jenica Lee OT; (front row) Shamali Dusane PT, Julia Majkut OT. Bottom photo, left to right: (back row) Wei Wang PT, Hannah Gin OT, Shamali Dusane PT, Jenica Lee OT, clinical associate professor Ashley Stoffel OT, Alyssa Irgang OT; (front row) Johnny Sok OT, Claire Mercer OT, Jen Yi OT. Students not pictured: Cassie Breshock, Megan Flaherty, Matt Linas and Christina Scott, OT; and Tessa Chiu and Monica Deutsch, PT.

Photo: Sonya Booth


John accepted the gardening honor on behalf of the department at an awards ceremony Oct. 12.

For the third year in a row, the UIC Nutrition Teaching Garden received the Chicago Excellence in Gardening Award in a citywide competition sponsored by the University of Illinois Extension and local businesses. “Aside from the immense value of the unadulterated fresh fruits and vegetables used in our nutrition curricula, the garden is a powerful educational tool,” says James “Danny” John ’18 ms kines, KN visiting clinical instructor, who accepted the honor on behalf of the department at an awards ceremony Oct. 12. “And it has become a popular green space for students, faculty and visitors.”

The garden is located behind the College of Applied Health Sciences Building. Students and other volunteers keep it growing under the supervision of Renea Lyles, instructor in kinesiology and nutrition. She and John plant, weed, maintain, harvest and prepare crops from the garden for use in nutrition courses. Since the garden was founded in 2016, it’s doubled in size to about 1,000 square feet of raised beds, with pollinator-friendly ornamentals along the outside borders. The gardeners rotate the crops each year, trying new vegetables. This year’s artichokes were especially successful, John says.





Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin

Medical alarms may be inaudible to hospital staff

Andrew Boyd

Thousands of alarms are generated each day in any given hospital, but there are many reasons why humans may fail to respond to medical alarms, including trouble hearing the alarm.

initial sound was present. Students were played sounds under two conditions, a masking condition and a nonmasking condition, that each mimicked real-life hospital scenarios.

New research looked at one common issue that affects alarm perceivability—simultaneous masking.

“Miss rates were significantly higher, and sensitivity was significantly lower, for the masking condition than for the non-masking one,” said Boyd.

“We know that our sensory system works as a filter and while that filter, generally, helps us, it can also prevent us from hearing one or more concurrent sounds in certain circumstances,” said BHIS associate professor Andrew Boyd, senior author of the study. To study this effect among health care professionals, Boyd and his colleagues played standard medical alarm sounds for 28 nursing students. In the experiments, the participants were provided an initial sound. They were then played additional sounds and asked if the 4



Boyd and his colleagues write that “the results show that masking of an alarm’s primary harmonic is sufficient to make an alarm sound indistinguishable.” “Considering an average hospital patient may produce hundreds of alarms each day, the presence of masking among standard hospital alarms is dangerous,” he said. The results are published in Human Factors, a journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

Photo: Samantha Bond

A new approach to health tech

Alejandra Cordova, right, an Altus Academy parent, gives feedback to a student team that includes Gina Mulanthara, OT, and Angeli Mata, DPT.

“Remember, you will be evaluated not just on the product you pitch, but on how well you listen to the families who are participating today,” said Samantha Bond, BHIS and PT visiting clinical assistant professor, during a Saturday event at Altus Academy. She was addressing more than 50 AHS students in the cafeteria of the nonprofit elementary school on Chicago’s West Side. The BVIS and PT students came together to brainstorm new health care technology ideas. Shortly after Bond’s announcement, a group of Altus kids and their parents joined the group, where they provided feedback on the ideas­­—mostly for new smartphone applications—that the UIC students had been developing all morning. The event, called the Health Tech Jam, is about helping students in the health sciences hone their ability to collaborate across disciplines and understand the role of technology

in the health care system and how it can help patients. “I participated in the Health Tech Jam because I thought it would be a great opportunity to apply the communication and design skills developed in our program to realworld problems and maybe walk away with an idea that’s worth developing into a real product,” said Leo Swenson, a BVIS student. This is the second time the college has hosted the event, which launched in 2018 but the first time it included a “patient” perspective, provided by Altus families. “Feedback from the Altus families was a critical part of this event,” Bond said. “We want students to adopt a patient-centered approach to care and we want them to have experience working with members of the community.” Solutions are only solutions, she said, if people are going to use them in everyday life.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to work with the Altus families because it was a reality check for us to understand whether or not our app would actually be catering to the needs of members of the community,” said Bendita Qian, a fourth-year undergraduate minoring in life science visualization. “Not only was the feedback they gave genuine, well-intentioned and often rooted in personal experience, it also helped us check the privilege we were entering the space with.” Swanson and Qian’s team was the winner of the “Shark Tank”-style pitch that brought the eight-hour event to a close. “Our project, MedQ, was an interactive form that patients would complete in the waiting room,” Swanson said. “A lot of current patient data forms require time-intensive transcription from paper into online medical records. MedQ could not only automate this process, it could personalize itself to the needs of a patient.” WINTER 2020




Winning women Angela Odoms-Young, KN associate professor, received the 2019 Mary C. Egan Award from the American Public Health Association’s Food and Nutrition Section for her outstanding contributions as a public health nutritionist.

Ashley Hughes, BHIS assistant professor, received the 2019 Bentzi Karsh Early-Career Service Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. She was honored at the society’s 63rd International Annual Meeting Oct. 30.

The award was presented at the American Public Health Association Conference & Expo in Philadelphia in November.

The award recognizes outstanding work, as a graduate student and early-career professional, to increase public awareness of human factors and ergonomics science.

Odoms-Young studies the social, cultural and environmental determinants of dietary behaviors and diet-related diseases in low-income and minority populations. Her research has focused on the effects of the new WIC food package; strategies to improve WIC participation; the effectiveness of community-based participatory weight loss intervention in African American women; and community engagement in promoting food justice. Miriam Isola, BHIS clinical assistant professor, will be inducted as a fellow in the American Medical Informatics Association at the Clinical Informatics Conference in Seattle in May 2020. Isola has more than 30 years of experience in health care information technology, operations and education. She has been a health center administrator, quality improvement epidemiologist, director of research and analytics, and information technology leader. Isola advises health systems, hospitals, academic medical centers and accountable care organizations, helping them to improve quality and population health outcomes, and reduce costs. Her areas of research include the use of data analytics for strategic decision-making in population health management, quality improvement and patient engagement.




Hughes studies human factors interventions to improve patient care, focusing on teamwork, training, performance assessment, patient safety and quality of care. She is co-founder of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Women’s Association for Mentoring and Networking, which promotes the personal and professional development of women scientists in the field. Gail Fisher, OT clinical professor, received a 2019 UIC Award for Excellence in Teaching. Fisher, OT associate head for administration, teaches courses in the theory of occupational therapy and the effects of payment policies on access to care and occupational therapy, topics related to her own research. “I have learned from my students that they learn best when provided with reallife examples and cases to discuss,” she says. “In my theory course, I bring in clinicians to talk about how they use theories in practice, and they each bring a video case for the students to analyze. In the health care systems course, we have mini-debates on current issues and controversies, and the students engage in an advocacy action to improve access to occupational therapy.” An AHS faculty member for 31 years, she has also received the college Excalibur Award for Excellence in Teaching, selected by students, and the AHS Alumni Loyalty Award. She holds two degrees from UIC: a bachelor’s in OT and a Ph.D. in health policy and administration.

Annette Valenta, BHIS professor emerita, has been named a fellow in the American College of Medical Informatics. She was among nine leaders in the field who were inducted Nov. 17 during the American Medical Informatics Association 2019 Annual Symposium in Washington, D.C. “Their expertise and distinguished accomplishments across the diverse field of biomedical and health informatics reflects the impact informatics and information and data science continue to have on health care,” said William M. Tierney, president of the American College of Medical Informatics. Valenta, who retired from UIC June 30, is a leader in the development of graduate-level and online programs in health informatics. She received the American Medical Informatics Association Leadership Award in 2016 for her work in chairing the organization’s accreditation committee. Her research has focused on the role of information technology in patient safety and organizational issues involved in health technology. Charlotte “Toby” Tate received the Honor Award from the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM award celebrates individuals who have made lifelong substantial scientific and scholarly contributions to sports medicine and the exercise sciences. Tate was recognized for her outstanding level of scholarship, professionalism and paving the way for many scientists, especially women. “Dr. Tate has had an incredibly impactful career,” said Bo Fernhall, AHS dean and professor. In 1999, Tate was appointed dean for AHS. She revolutionized the college by expanding research in disability, molecular nutrition and exercise to prevent disease and advance health promotion, and maternal and child health. From 2000 to 2002, Tate also served as interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. After 10 years of service, Tate stepped down as dean but remained professor of DHD and of KN. She was recognized as dean emerita in 2014.

With a background in health physical education, Tate defied the traditional roles of women in the 1960s by pursuing a career in exercise science. She obtained both a master’s degree in exercise physiology and a doctoral degree in education, with a focus on exercise biochemistry, from University of Texas at Austin. She was one of the first women to achieve tenure-track status in exercise biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine. “She has been a role model for women in science for over 40 years and the ACSM Honor Award recognizes her accomplishments and influence,” Fernhall said. “I am personally very grateful and privileged for her mentorship and friendship.” Kathryn Roach ’74 BS PT was honored with the 2019 UIC Alumni Achievement Award. She received the AHS Outstanding Alumni Award in 2002. Roach was a member of the college’s second graduating class in physical therapy, which met in classrooms next to what became the UIC Library of the Health Sciences. “We watched the construction from our classroom windows, and the workers watched us practice our clinical skills,” she recalls. She was a clinical practitioner for 14 years, working in the burn unit of Cook County Hospital and as an inhome physical therapist. “I worked with people as they fought to regain their ability to fully participate in their lives,” Roach says. “It was an enormous honor.” Roach never imagined herself leaving clinical practice, but an interest in research led to the second chapter of her career. She earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology from the UIC School of Public Health and moved into academia. At the University of Miami, she’s also vice chair for research and acting vice chair for Ph.D. studies. “I went into academics to participate in clinical research, but what I did not anticipate was how much I would love teaching,” she says. Roach established the Donna Roach Scholarship at UIC to honor her mother’s “courage and persistence.” Her mother’s father thought it was a waste of time and money for a woman to go to college, but she was determined. Roach’s parents met on the Chicago campus—both the first in their families to graduate from college.





Rising through the ranks UIC was ranked No. 3 for its online bachelor’s degree programs—including health information management in the College of Applied Health Sciences—in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs. The UIC ranking, which also includes programs in business administration and nursing, has climbed over the last three years from No. 15 in 2018 to No. 5 in 2019.


online program offers eligibility for the Registered Health Administrator (RHIA) credentialing exam, as well as a seamless transition to a career in the health care industry for those do not wish to attend daytime campus classes due to home or work responsibilities, or travel distance.”

The report evaluates 353 schools on criteria including engagement, student services and technologies, faculty credentials and training, and expert opinion.

According to U.S. News, most students enrolled in online bachelor’s programs have earned at least some college credit and are more likely to be working professionals in their 20s to 40s looking to advance or change their careers.

The Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management Degree Completion Program prepares students for a range of health information careers, including analytical roles, project management and health care system management.

“UIC is committed to increasing access to quality online options for working professionals who cannot get to campus. Our faculty and staff’s dedication to student success is reflected in UIC’s No. 3 ranking,” said Susan Poser, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“The medical, administrative, ethical and legal requirements of today’s sensitive environment for health information make this an essential and exciting field,” said Karen Patena, clinical associate professor and director of health information management programs. “Health information management offers a wide range of job opportunities, from analytical roles to project management to health care system management. Our

“In today’s ever-changing labor market, working professionals look to UIC for a wide range of innovative educational opportunities to continuously up-skill and re-skill,” said TJ Augustine, interim vice chancellor for innovation. “This ranking reinforces UIC’s position as a leader in advancing online education that meets the demands of the 21st century workforce.”



Inspiring grad

Photo: Joshua Clark

accelerate family-engaged and participation-focused care planning and outcomes monitoring with individuals, organizations and service systems. After completing her master’s, she decided to continue her education at UIC.

While Andrea Gurga ’18 ms ot, ’19 otd was working on her doctorate at UIC, her mother was diagnosed with lymphoma and needed care in another state. “I sat alone in my room, wondering what I would do,” she said, recalling when she first got the news about her mother in January 2019. “Then I remembered a quote from the author Marie Forleo that said, ‘Everything is figureoutable.’ I knew that although I couldn’t control what was going on with my family or in my life, I could work at finding solutions and towards the ending that I wanted.” Gurga made the decision to commute up to seven hours each weekend to and from Wisconsin to be an advocate for her mother while working toward her clinical doctorate in occupational therapy and certificate in assistive technology. Her doctorate committee and her employers were highly supportive,

giving her the opportunity to balance her schedule to complete her doctorate project and treat clients on the weekdays. Her persistence and dedication paid off; she celebrated commencement Dec. 14 with her mother, who is in remission. She graduated with her clinical doctorate, was hooded by her adviser and mentor, with her family, including her mother, in the crowd cheering her on. “I truly have an unshakeable foundation moving forward,” she said. Gurga joined UIC in 2016 as a member of the Master of Science in occupational therapy cohort. She worked in the Children’s Participation in Environment Research Laboratory, or CPERL, led by OT associate professor Mary Khetani. There, she was mentored to contribute to the development and assessment of innovative tools that can

“I chose to pursue a clinical doctorate in occupational therapy because it was valuable to my future as an educator, leader and researchinformed clinician,” Gurga said. “UIC gave me the opportunity to contribute towards research in the field, build community partnerships and learn through evidence-based practice. Pursuing my professional certificate in assistive technology was also important to me because I wanted additional training to assess my clients’ need for technology, as well as educate my clients to utilize tools and strategies to support them in doing what matters most to them.” Gurga, who finished her coursework in August, now works as an occupational therapist at Blue Bird Day, a multidisciplinary early childhood therapeutic program she partnered with frequently while a graduate student. She works with children who have autism, sensory processing disorders and other developmental conditions, as well as their families, to promote independence and participation in a child’s daily life and routine. “I love what I do—It’s always been my dream to make a positive impact on others’ lives,” Gurga said. “My mother was an occupational therapist. It’s an honor to carry on her legacy and make her proud.” Watch Andre Gurga in action at youtu.be/mLBicqDgrdM.





Photo: Carli Friedman

Accessible entrepreneurship

Kate Caldwell (third from left), DHD research assistant Christianna Danguilan (fourth from left) and CEED mentor Laura Martinez (second from right) with participants in the Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities project.

A new online lab from the Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities, or CEED, is designed to help people with disabilities pursue entrepreneurship opportunities.

needs of people with disabilities. As a result, we created the CEED Idea Lab to assist people with disabilities in entrepreneurship exploration, business practices and implementation of strategies to grow their business.”

Called the Idea Lab, the online resource is a free tool for people with disabilities to evaluate ideas via selfassessments, access tailored business training and explore strategies to grow businesses.

An indirect benefit of the CEED Idea Lab is its potential to reduce the poverty rate of people with disabilities, said DHD clinical assistant professor Kate Caldwell.

This new online tool was developed from information gathered from CEED’s entrepreneurial training program, which brought businesses and people with disabilities together. The training program lasted two years and allowed UIC researchers to identify the main barriers to entrepreneurship that people with disabilities encounter. “Through our training program, we learned that traditional business training programs are hard to find, are not accessible or are too expensive for people with disabilities,” said DHD professor Sarah Parker Harris. “We needed a way to provide training specific to the 10



“People with disabilities are involved in self-employment at almost twice the rate of the general population, yet we still see an issue with disability poverty,” Caldwell said. “Entrepreneurship helps to create jobs for multiple people instead of the individual, which reduces poverty. When used as an employment strategy, entrepreneurship has successfully addressed poverty in other disadvantaged communities.” The CEED Idea Lab will be accessible to people nationwide and the website will be used by the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois to offer training for individuals they are serving in independent living centers across the state of Illinois.

Remembering Ruth George a campus pre-health professions fraternity. Members organized a vigil in her memory Nov. 25. As fundraising chair for Delta Epsilon Mu, she planned and coordinated four events during the fall semester to support the chapter’s philanthropies. She regularly exceeded the chapter’s two-hours-per-week volunteer requirement in her work at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, said chapter president Kevin Roy. “Ruth George was a highly talented and motivated student whose energy and good spirits endeared her to teachers, fellow students—everyone in the AHS community. We grieve for her loss, and for the loss of the great health professional she would have become,” said Bo Fernhall, AHS dean. A student in the Honors College, she was known as “friendly, passionate and dedicated—really excited about being at UIC and pursuing a degree leading to physical therapy,” said Honors College associate dean Stacie McCloud. “Some people can light up a room,” said Michele McCrillis, Honors College assistant dean, “and Ruthie was one of those people.”

Ruth George was an active member of Delta Epsilon Mu, a campus pre-health professions fraternity.

Ruth George—she liked to be called “Ruthie”—was an exceptional and engaged student who stood out, even in a full lecture hall. “It was apparent that she was here to learn, and that she thoroughly enjoyed learning,” said Tracy Baynard, KN associate professor, who taught the AHS sophomore in her fall semester course, Introduction to Exercise Science and Health. “Ruthie not only possessed book smarts, but she was a genuine person,” Baynard said. With 200 students in the course, “she was one I could look at in class to determine if my lecture was making sense or not, and she always provided a laugh or a smirk at my goofy jokes.” George, 19, a Berwyn resident, was found dead Nov. 23 in her car in the Halsted Street parking garage on campus. A Chicago man was arrested and charged with first-degree murder Nov. 25. Ruth George was an active member of Delta Epsilon Mu, a campus pre-health professions fraternity.

As a student in McCrillis’ seminar class on documentary photography and film, “she enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to explore and experiment with ideas outside her major,” McCrillis said. “But it’s her smile that I remember, and will miss, the most.” She was also a student employee in the Academic Computing and Communications Center. After her death was announced, the AHS dean’s office organized support services for students and staff. Counselors and canine support dogs were available throughout the day in the Physical Education Building. About 125 people gathered to remember her Nov. 25 in Student Center East, where one of her professors read the recommendation letter he would have sent to future graduate schools on her behalf. “Ruthie was a gifted individual in many regards. She was compassionate, enthusiastic, sincere, and incredibly dedicated to her studies. She never missed an opportunity to help one of her peers,” said Tomer Kanan, KN clinical assistant professor, who teaches the fall semester anatomy and physiology course she was taking. “I believe Ruthie would have made incredible contributions in her future.”

A kinesiology major who planned a career in physical therapy, she was an active member of Delta Epsilon Mu, WINTER 2020







go far


Patricia Walker ’73 bs mls, who recently retired as dean of the College of Health Professions at Sacred Heart University, presented the Deans Emerita Lecture at the 2019 annual conference of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions Oct. 17. This is an excerpt from her lecture, “Let’s Go Far Together.”

leaders in health care education, we look to diversity to produce a workforce to serve the health care needs of our changing population. An equally urgent way to look at the need to diversify the health professions is, how can we help break the cycle of poverty among underrepresented minorities? How can we make careers that represent good paying jobs accessible to the black and Hispanic communities? I am worried about the future because health professions education programs seem to be less accessible to the economically disadvantaged now than when I went to college in 1969. I grew up on the West Side of Chicago. My parents were from the South. Their families were part of the great migration of blacks who moved north in search of a better life. My mother wanted her children, especially

her daughters, to go to college, so we could get a good job and be independent. My sister and I were both valedictorians and the first generation of our family to attend college. My sister attended Northwestern University as a residential student. When I was looking at colleges, my mother asked if I would stay home and commute. I applied to two schools with the medical laboratory science major I wanted: University of Illinois Circle Campus and DePaul University. UIC had a four-year program; it took one bus and a subway ride to get there. DePaul was on the North Side, it was a five-year program, and it would take a bus and two subway rides. We selected UIC. On the day of my high school graduation, my mother became ill and missed the ceremony. She thought she WINTER 2020



One of my former teachers told me to write to the person who signed my financial aid award letter and tell them what happened. I wrote to Mr. Arthur J. Falls (I still remember his name) and received a response saying he was sorry about my mother’s death, and I would be awarded more financial aid, including workstudy, so I could work between classes, go home afterward and take care of my brothers.

Walker worked part time in a hospital lab while attending graduate school.

had a bad case of indigestion, but it turned out it was a heart attack, because she had another—fatal—one the next week. This changed my world. My sister and I could take care of our younger brothers during the summer, but she was going back to school in the fall. I had planned to work full-time in the summer and parttime in the fall at Sears and Roebuck to earn money for college. Now, my little brothers were looking at me, wondering who is going to make breakfast, cook dinner and wash their clothes. I wondered how I was going to do all of that, go to school and work part-time. From the College of Applied Health Sciences, Patricia Walker ’73 bs mls gained a degree, a job and a career path. And something else: confidence. “The confidence that you get from other people believing in you goes a long way,” says Walker, who recently retired as founding dean of the College of Health Professions at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. She remembers several people who played pivotal roles for her at UIC. First, there was the campus 14



I did well enough to be accepted into the medical laboratory science program for my senior year. Being the only black student, or one of a few, in most of my science classes prepared me to be the only black student in the medical laboratory science program. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree and a B- grade point average and was happy to have both. I got a job in the MLS program as a teaching assistant. When one of the faculty suggested I look into graduate school, I inquired about the medical microbiology program. It was full-time and they wanted you to be a TA, but it didn’t pay enough to live on. I was told to talk it over with my family, but there was no one who could afford to support me through graduate school. I looked around and decided I liked working at a university and the job of dean looked like a good job, but I would need a doctoral degree. I began a master’s

director of financial aid, who increased her funding after her mother died unexpectedly. Walker was one of two black students in her general science classes and the only black student in the medical laboratory sciences program, but she remembers always feeling supported. “I was successful because of the people who were committed to seeing that all students succeeded.” After graduation, administrator Ruth French offered her a job as an instructor. A few years later, Walker ran into a former professor who mentioned a job opening, director of the new Urban Health Program in the justestablished College of Associated Health Professions. Walker was the first person hired by dean Thomas Beckham. Her next career step was at University of Louisville, where she helped transition its division of allied health professions to become a college.

program in education because I could do it part-time while I worked. Years later, I completed my doctorate in educational psychology at Loyola University Chicago. I did this while working full-time at UIC during the week and parttime at a hospital microbiology lab on weekends, and graduated debt-free. My situation as a first-generation college student from a low-income family is similar to that of poor, first-generation college students today. Their lives are complex, but their motivation is strong. It saddens me to know they have less chance to pursue allied health careers than I did 50 years ago, when universities gave generous financial aid packages, and technologist and therapist jobs required only a bachelor’s degree. It also saddens me that I wouldn’t qualify for an allied health graduate program today. Graduate programs have become increasingly more competitive, requiring higher and higher GPAs for admission. Some of this is due to the increased complexity of the curricula, but some is in self-defense as universities rely more on enrollment growth to offset their increasing expenses in an environment where tuition prices are reaching their limits.

From there, she was appointed founding dean of the new College of Education and Health Professions at Sacred Heart University. Under her guidance, three health professions programs (athletic training, physical therapy and occupational therapy), as well as nursing and education programs, became a college that expanded to include speech language pathology, healthcare informatics, health science, exercise science, public health and physician’s assistant studies. Its new building was nicknamed “the house that Pat built.” “Being able to come in with new ideas, to start from scratch and evolve your own team, is refreshing,” Walker says. “I enjoyed building a college.” Under her leadership, nursing and education eventually grew to become separate colleges. “It was the natural next step,” says Walker.

Six to seven years of college education to obtain an entry-level degree is not just a challenge for low-income families, but a stretch for middle-class families. Still, there is a disparity between black and white students affected by the growing debt burden of student loans. Black students take on more loans, have a higher amount of debt, and have a harder time paying it off. Due to lack of family wealth and job discrimination, they are more likely to experience longterm financial insecurity as a result of student loans. Given these issues, those of us who work in universities and professions that claim a commitment to diversity and inclusion would do well to do more to achieve it. I don’t think one size fits all when it comes to solutions for individual universities or professions. It has to be a combination of academic, cultural and financial support for students, and systemic change. The professions and universities both have to be part of the solution. There is a quote attributed to an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” The goals of having a diverse health care workforce and a healthy population can only be met if we choose to go far, together. n

sabbatical, which included completing a graduate certificate in epidemiology. She and her wife, Ellen Morgan, recently established a scholarship fund at Sacred Heart to assist black and Hispanic high school students from Connecticut. “I want them to feel somebody believes in them— someone who cares about their success.” Through the years, Walker has also given regularly to the College of Applied Health Sciences and Loyola University, where she earned her doctorate. “We all have to remember that somebody helped us,” she says. “This is how we pay it back.”

She retired in June 2019 after 22 years as dean. She plans to return to teaching next fall after a year’s WINTER 2020



To serve and protect Susan Kahan provides those who work in the justice system with the skills to better serve people with developmental disabilities.


n off-duty sheriff ’s deputy was shopping in Walmart when he walked into a frantic scene: a young man sitting in the corner fidgeting with a small toy, surrounded by angry security guards. The guards were yelling at the youth to put his hands behind his back. The young man was crying. “Step back,” the deputy told the security guards. He asked the youth, “are you stimming?” The young man nodded yes. A few more questions, and the deputy had the story: the youth had autism, he had become separated from his father in the store, he was frightened, and he had grabbed the 16



toy to soothe himself. When the panicked father appeared, peace was restored. How did the deputy correctly assess the situation? He had taken a 40-hour training program on crisis intervention that includes a workshop on developmental disability and communication led by Susan Kahan, DHD clinical staff member and clinician in the UIC Developmental Disabilities Family Clinic. Before taking the training, the deputy had never heard of stimming (self-stimulatory behavior, repetitive motions or actions that people with developmental disability sometimes use for calming). Like the security guards, he would have assumed the young man was resisting.

“There are so many cases where things go horribly wrong because a behavior that’s born of mental illness, developmental disability or trauma is mistaken for being oppositional or defiant,” says Kahan.

Kahan conducts sessions on crisis intervention and DD for law enforcement officers through the Cook County Sheriff ’s Department and the Chicago Police Department, as well as at national and international symposiums.

Kahan, a licensed clinical professional counselor, is a go-to expert whose work focuses on crisis and trauma related to children and adults with developmental disabilities.

She is a member of the National Human Trafficking and Disabilities Working Group, and the task force on the Protection of Individuals with Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System.

As a consultant at the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center—a nonprofit that responds to reports of child sexual and/or physical abuse, witness to violence and other serious maltreatment—she advises forensic interviewers, detectives, assistant states attorneys, child protection services investigators and others on cases with survivors and witnesses who have developmental disabilities. “Susan has been an incredible asset to the staff of the Chicago CAC,” says Carmel Browne, director of MDT Coordination at the center, citing Kahan’s “understanding of development disorders and working with individuals with complex challenges due to special needs.”

She is the mental health consultant for an Illinois Department of Health and Human Services pilot project, the Short Term Stabilization Housing program. The program helps people with DD whose behaviors put them at risk of being moved into state facilities.

A common thread in these different roles? Providing those who work in the justice system with the communication skills to effectively interact with, understand and protect people who have DD. Prosecutors and investigators are sometimes reluctant to pursue cases because they don’t understand development disability and they don’t think people with DD can provide accurate, reliable testimony, Kahan says. To counter that, Kahan starts by normalizing the behaviors associated with developmental disability. For example,

Kahan leads a Crisis Intervention Team training on autism and other developmental disabilities for correction officers from the Cook Country Sheriff’s Office. WINTER 2020



she asks, do you twirl a lock of hair or tap your foot when you’re nervous? That’s a form of stimming. “I point out that there’s nothing unique about the behaviors associated with autism or other developmental disabilities. These characteristics are all things they’ve dealt with before, just to a lesser degree.” Kahan is trained in forensic interviewing, although she does not conduct interviews herself. This helps her advise forensic interviewers, police and prosecutors on how to structure an interview that’s sensitive to the witness, while gaining information that will hold up in court. For example, people with autism and other developmental disabilities sometimes have diminished perspectivetaking—they think that if they know something, others do too. “In a forensic interview, they might leave out salient information because they think you already know it. The investigator might think they’re leaving things out on purpose. You have to make sure you’re asking enough questions, and the right questions,” Kahan says.

“I try to work proactively to avoid crises,” she says. Kahan worked in disability services for 20 years as an administrator and advocate before she became a licensed clinician. She was a LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) fellow at DHD and an intern at the UIC Developmental Disabilities Family Clinic; after completing her internship, she remained on the clinic staff. Kahan has a son with autism, “which gives me perspective,” she says. “It certainly has been helpful to me in my work as a clinician.” At the heart of her work is the desire to protect a population that is particularly vulnerable to victimization, Kahan says. “Part of this protection involves effective investigation and prosecution—more collaborative relationships between law enforcement, prosecutors and people in the disability community. “I do the best I can to be a part of the solution.” n

Kahan’s sessions on crisis intervention and people with DD is a valuable resource for law enforcement, says Carl James Alaimo, who directs Advanced Mental Health and Crisis Intervention Team Training for the Cook County Sheriff ’s Bureau of Training and Education. The training gets “overwhelming response from officers,” he says. “Many state they wish they had the training when they began their careers, and that the training should be ongoing. “Many share how her session has helped them understand the issue of autism and DD/IDD in their personal lives.” Her work with clients of the Short Term Housing Stabilization project is the flip side of the police training. She wants to help her clients learn to avoid the behaviors that result in police encounters by addressing their trauma and mental health issues. She offers group sessions on anger management and emotional regulation for clients and training for agencies that want to incorporate it into their programs. 18



Kahan and Carl Alaimo, instructor at the Cook County Sheriff’s Bureau of Training and Education and coordinator of the Crisis Intervention Team training program.

A recreation of “Whistler’s Mother” by Revecca Torres for “Tres Fridas.”

A residency unlike any other Local organization provides funding in support of artists with disabilities. The phrase “artist residency” may conjure images of an Italian villa retreat for painters or cabins in rural Vermont for musicians. Artist residencies are often held in remote locations so participants have plenty of quiet time to advance their craft. But for artists with disabilities, the possibility of securing one of these residencies isn’t always feasible. There can be accessibility issues—will there be an ASL interpreter? Will a wheelchair fit

into the small bathroom? Does funding include a personal care attendant?—but the challenges go beyond access. “While most artists need time away and isolation to give themselves space to work, the problem is that artists with disabilities are already isolated,” says DHD associate professor Carrie Sandahl.

residency was inspired by a three-year research study on barriers and facilitators to arts careers conducted by Sandahl and Carol J. Gill, DHD professor emeritus, and is a collaboration with local nonprofit organization 3Arts. Led by executive director Esther Grimm, 3Arts supports Chicago artists with disabilities, women artists and artists of color.

The 3Arts Residency at UIC seeks to change that. This

Since 2014, funding from 3Arts and the National Endowment WINTER 2020



for the Arts has supported one to two artists with disabilities each academic year at AHS. The gifts support all costs of the residency, while UIC provides the artists with professional development, mentoring and resources.

“We set up this residency to address some of the barriers we identified and connect artists with cultural institutions, as well as with disability culture and disability studies,” Sandahl says. “That’s why it’s at UIC.” This context also helps inform what the residency is not. It’s not simply paying a guest lecturer to teach in a few classes. It’s not a mechanism to teach audiences about disability. It’s not for artists with impairments who are uninterested in disability culture. “Our artists have to be willing to think about how disability

Sandahl knows this frustration well from her own experience seeking grants to support initiatives like the residency. “I would have to warp my projects to fit the criteria,” she says.

Carrie Sandahl

influences their working process or their aesthetics,” Sandahl explains. Apart from this requirement, the residency is intentionally openended, a luxury that the artists aren’t always accustomed to. “Prior to the residency, I was taking every opportunity I could and trying to make it work, which sometimes meant I wasn’t totally thrilled with what I was putting out,” says artist Matt Bodett, the fall 2017 resident.

That’s no longer an issue thanks to the generosity of 3Arts. Their thoughtful approach to funding means artists can dream big, while Sandahl can spend her time mentoring the artists, rather than cutting through red tape. “This is a foundation that really understands the research and sees how it affects a real-life problem,” she says. “They came through for us.” Sandahl emphasizes that it’s a relationship of trust, support and collaboration. She also says the funding arrangement is one that is fully replicable between other organizations and UIC faculty. “If there’s a graduate or donor who has a particular affinity with an organization, I would encourage them to see who the researchers are at UIC in that same area,” she says. “Form those relationships and see what happens.” Sandahl learned that anything can happen. Case in point, she couldn’t have anticipated the global reach of the 3Arts Residency program. In addition to speaking at conferences nationally, Sandahl has

Reveca Torres 20



Matt Bodett

presented on the residency in Canada, Germany and Switzerland. Meanwhile, Bodett brought the performance art series he created during his residency to the Freud Museum in London and the No Limits Festival in Berlin. “The residency gave me a new type of confidence,” he says. “It made me realize that my only limitation is myself.” Having recently moved to Chicago from Boise, Bodett was struggling to find his way in the Chicago arts scene before he started the residency. He’s grateful that Sandahl’s mentorship and connections opened doors at the Poetry Foundation, Victory Gardens Theater and Steppenwolf Theatre. “The weight of what this residency represents in the community is very strong,” Bodett says. “I’m connected to the disability community and culture in a much more

substantial and lasting way now.” Reveca Torres, the fall 2018 resident, agrees. “This wasn’t a one-time transactional thing where you receive resources, write a report at the end and then they’re done with you,” she says. “I’ve become part of a community that’s going to support me for a long time.” That community even extends to students she met in Sandahl’s “Disability and Culture” course, which Torres audited during her residency. Some of those students have been volunteering with Torres’ nonprofit, BACKBONES, a network for individuals with spinal cord injuries and their families. Other students have found mentors and advisers in the 3Arts Residency artists, as well as academic topics to pursue. “It’s been great for my students’ work and their research,”

Sandahl says. “Students are publishing and presenting about it.” This speaks to the exponential impact of the 3Arts Residency. Thanks to the generosity of this foundation gift, AHS is engaging with people who are both familiar with and new to disability art and culture. “We are developing new types of work,” Sandahl says. “We’re developing new aesthetics— not only artistic choices but also techniques that are interesting to people all over the world. This partnership is helping to make that happen.” n

To learn more about the 3Arts Residency and Bodies of Work, visit go.uic.edu/BOW. WINTER 2020




AHS Connection The second half of 2019 brought opportunities for alumni to celebrate and connect.


BVIS at AMI2019

July 27 Milwaukee BVIS alumni, students and friends attending the Association of Medical Illustrators 74th Annual Conference in Milwaukee met over lunch to network and reconnect. Every year, BVIS organizes an event during the conference.

AHS Study Abroad reunion Aug. 23 Chicago Past participants of AHS Study Abroad programs in Dublin and Barcelona reunited to catch up with each other and KN clinical associate professor John Coumbe-Lilley ’02 MS KINES over drinks and appetizers in Greek Town.


Sept. 16 Chicago AHS had a strong turnout for the hometown setting of the American Health Information Management Association Health Data and Information Conference. AHS alumni and faculty took a break from the conference to catch up over appetizers and drinks.




From left to right: Elizabeth Ziemba ’13 BS HIM and Jacqueline Clark ’13 BS HIM.

UICAA State of the University Reception for Alumni Employees Oct. 1 Chicago The UIC Alumni Association hosted a special reception in a University Village eatery following the State of the University Address by Chancellor Michael Amiridis. It was a great opportunity to bring together UIC alumni employees to connect and show them our appreciation for everything they do on our campus. Adam Andersen ’01 BS PT

Michelle Bulanda ’98 MS PT

2019 UIC Alumni Awards Celebration Oct. 24 Chicago The UICAA honored six outstanding members of the UIC alumni community, including the UIC Alumni Achievement Award recipient Kathryn Roach ’74 BS PT. These awards represent the highest honor bestowed upon a member of the UIC alumni community.

From left to right: UIC Alumni Association executive director Caryn Schultz Korman, Kathryn Roach ’74 BS PT and UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis.

UIC Rehabilitation Sciences Club 3rd Annual Power Hour Nov. 13 Chicago Members of the AHS rehabilitation sciences community came together to connect and socialize with one another outside of an academic setting. Alumni shared their professional milestones and updates.

From left to right: Melanie Davis ’19 BS RS and OT clinical assistant professor Jennifer Wescott ’17 MS OT, ’18 OTD.

AHS student Mounira Nkouengam (center) and Ovidiu (Ovi) Zdremtan ’19 BS RS (right).

From left to right: Orit Schwartz ’04 MS OT and Dean Stoyanov ’18 BS RS.





2019 UIC Health Professions Forum Nov. 5 Chicago UIC health professions alumni shared insights with undergraduate students interested in exploring health-related careers.

From left to right: Maria Kokkinias ’16 BS KINES, AHS assistant dean for student affairs Viviana Kabbabe Thompson and Pamela Hurtado ’17 BS HIM.

UIC Kinesiology Club Career Fair


HIM In-Service

Nov. 7 Chicago

Dec. 12 Chicago

The UIC Kinesiology Club hosted its 3rd annual Career Fair. Alumni and area employers met with AHS undergraduate students to explore career paths and help them start to build their professional networks.

The HIM Class of 2020 presented this year’s HIM In-service, “Influencing HIM Today with Tomorrow’s Technology.” The halfday continuing education event brought together alumni and other professionals from throughout Chicagoland. Each year, HIM graduating students lead the planning of the in-service.

Andy Park ’12 BS KINES shares his experiences in chiropractic care and entrepreneurship with a current KINES undergraduate student.

From left to right: Faye Bright and Maureen Warner ‘90 BS HIM.






AHS MAGAZINE University of Illinois at Chicago Office of the Dean (MC 518) College of Applied Health Sciences 808 South Wood Street, 169 CMET Chicago, Illinois 60612-7305 Address Service Requested

Save the date

Thursday, April 2 Venue West, 221 N. Paulina St.

2020 AHS Alumni Award Recipients Grace Baranek ’81 BS OT Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Samantha Bond ’16 MS BVIS Loyalty Award Laura Mraz ’10 MS OT, ’11 OTD New Alum Award

Special Guest Speaker Karen Tamley

President and CEO, Access Living



with health p ro fessio nals fro m var io us field s and d iscip lines


o n the co ntr ib utio ns mad e b y A HS alumni as ed ucato r s, d isco verer s, co l lab o rato r s and ad vo cates


ho w Chicago is wo rking to b eco m e o ne o f the mo st accessib le and inclusive cities in the U. S


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Profile for UIC Applied Health Sciences Magazine

AHS Magazine - Winter 2020  


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