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Vision for a vaccinated world

Alumnus Brian Taliesin unites people, technology and data to save lives in Africa



Message from the Dean

Former and future When I first heard about the feature stories slated for this issue of AHS Magazine, I supported them on their individual merits. The profiles of Brian Taliesin and Dr. Winifred Scott showcase the remarkable lives and work of two extraordinary alumni. In further considering these pieces, what stood out to me was a theme—albeit unintentional—that tied them together: former and future. Brian’s article (p. 11) is a story about looking at how things have long been done, identifying the parts of the paradigm that work and enhancing those parts as the foundation for an evolved system that makes lives better. His project involves implementing the newest forms of technology to accomplish healthcare’s original purpose: to keep people alive and well. The interview between Dr. Scott and student Briana Bonner (p. 15) is a literal meeting of former and future. The former occupational therapy clinician and educator sat down with a student just about to embark on a career, perhaps in clinical work, perhaps in higher education (she’s considering a PhD). The similarities and differences between their experiences, 60 years apart, are fascinating. In light of the theme, it’s poignant that we also remember in this issue Dr. Savitri Kamath (p. 9), a former head of our programs in nutrition and also a former dean, who passed away in the fall. Her impact in AHS is still felt. As one admirer put it, “She was instrumental in setting the stage for us to become what we are today.” And this is the heart of the matter: Progress is not a passage from one discrete stage to another to yet another. It is not like crossing a stream on a path of stones, with each stone left behind no longer of consequence to the journey. Progress moves like the stream itself, in a current. Its flows through people and programs, growing stronger as it does. And if its origins were to somehow dry up, to disappear, so too would the stream itself.

AHS MAGAZINE Winter 2016 EDITORS Elizabeth Miller Director of Marketing and Communications Erika Chavez Assistant Director for Advancement DESIGN Kimberly Hegarty UIC Office of Publications Services CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Kelsey Schagemann, Anne Brooks Ranallo, Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Christy Levy, Elizabeth Miller CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS UIC Photo Services, Pavel Verbovski, Elise Krikau ©2016 University of Illinois at Chicago. All rights reserved. Published by the Office of the Dean (MC 518), UIC College of Applied Health Sciences, 808 South Wood Street, 169 CMET, Chicago, Illinois 60612-7305. Telephone Fax E-mail Website

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. BHIS Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences BVIS Program in Biomedical Visualization DHD Department of Disability and Human Development

To be sure, progress is always our intention in the College of Applied Health Sciences. But here, forward motion is accompanied by respectful contemplation of what came before.


As alumni, you are part of our “former” and our future. We’re so grateful for that, and I hope you will share my esteem for the continuous current of progress in our college as you enjoy this issue of AHS Magazine.


Bo Fernhall Dean UIC College of Applied Health Sciences

(312) 996-6695 (312) 413-0086

Program in Health Informatics

HIM Program in Health Information Management Programs in Kinesiology

KN Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition MLS

Medical Laboratory Sciences


Programs in Nutrition

OT Department of Occupational Therapy PT

Department of Physical Therapy



FEATURES 11 Vision for a vaccinated world  Countless African children are still dying from preventable diseases. Brian Taliesin ‘13 ms hi is part of a team determined to change that.

15 Reflection  Winifred Scott ‘57 bs ot was a trailblazer. Here, she looks back on her life and contributions in conversation with a student who’s helping forge that trail still.


20 And the awards go to ... 

Three individuals were honored in the 2015 AHS Alumni Awards Program. Several faculty, staff and community partners were also recognized in 2015.




Professor has some great advice for Elmo, Grover and Abby


AHS introduces a new informatics doctoral degree


The college remembers an architect of our nutrition programs,

Savitri Kamath


All in: Highlights from alumni gatherings in the latter half of 2015


On the cover: Health workers employ new technology in Tanzania with help of the BID Initiative. Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Riccardo Gangale


Explaining autism on Sesame Street The resulting website offers “daily routine” flash cards that show Big Bird, Elmo and other Muppets doing everyday activities like getting dressed, crossing the street and going to a store. An online storybook introduces Julia, a new character with autism who spends the day with Elmo and Abby, enjoying the same things, although she sometimes behaves differently. Among the animated and live-action videos available, one features three Latina sisters, the youngest of whom has autism. This is not designed to be an intervention, Magaña says, “but there are interventions that use this sort of story model to prepare kids in advance of doing something that may be stressful for them.” Sandy Magaña recently saw three years of her work contribute to a worldwide resource in the hands of Elmo, Grover and Abby. Sesame Workshop launched “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children” in October 2015. It offers narratives to help families create daily learning moments for children with autism, and to teach others about autism.

Magaña, professor of disability and human development, was one of 11 clinical and academic experts in autism who served as advisers to the initiative.

Six days after the site went live, Sesame Workshops reported 1.35 billion impressions for its multimedia efforts, with responses from about 35 countries.

“I was asked to participate because of my research with Latino families, since Sesame Street appeals to diverse audiences,” Magaña says.

Another important enhancement is still to come, Magaña adds. “I asked them to put this information in Spanish. They said that’s a priority, and they’re fundraising for it.”


Have you seen the faces of UIC throughout Chicago over the past several months? A new advertising campaign features UIC students on CTA buses, trains and platforms, as well as at O’Hare International Airport. Ads also appear on Facebook, Wikia and Sparknotes, and on the Pandora music streaming service. Plans for future advertising in spring include two billboards and a spot on WBEZ-FM.




Photo: Aaron Brim

Here and there


A 2.5-million-dollar idea UIC health sciences faculty are collaborating to develop more than 20 online training modules for healthcare providers from various fields to help them provide better care for older adults, a population projected to reach 72.1 million in the U.S. by 2030.

UIC health sciences colleges—will contribute to the development of each module. Moreover, embedded within each module will be “referral cues” to prompt professionals from one field to consider when and why to consult a colleague in another field.

The project is funded by a three-year, $2.5 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

The CEU-eligible modules will be disseminated nationally and internationally beginning in 2018 at

“We hope this will help providers from all fields to create habits of initiating conversations with other professionals,” says Peterson. “That kind of collaboration is essential when working with older adults.”

“The complex nature of working in gerontology requires input from a strong interdisciplinary team,” says Elizabeth Peterson, clinical professor of occupational therapy and one of the 11-member leadership team that wrote the successful grant. The team will draw from state-of-the-art, evidencebased science to produce a series of educational modules. Each will feature assessment and intervention recommendations and resources on topics ranging from pain management and medication management to fall prevention and end-of-life care. “The strength of this project is that it’s truly interdisciplinary,” says Peterson, noting that all leadership team members—who represent all seven


AHS is huge in campus competition

The entry from Faith Simunyu, showing the first step of a proteinpurification process

AHS students made up almost 30 percent of the 17 UIC students recognized for their submissions to the 2015 Image of Research Competition, the annual contest to depict the significance of research at UIC. Melissa Zachritz ’15 ms bvis and Robert Shonk ’15 ms bvis won first and second place, respectively, in the moving images category. Three additional

AHS students were selected as finalists: (Madeline) Myung Sun Lee ’15 ms bvis; Faith Simunyu ’15 ms bvis, and current student Arin Weidner, ms kines. (The submission deadline was in April, making 2015 graduates eligible.) All the winners were recognized at the exhibit opening on Oct. 9, 2015, in UIC’s Daley Library.






Taking care of business People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often overlooked by the business-development world. Now Sarah Parker Harris, associate professor of disability and human development, is engaged in empowering them through entrepreneurship training. Chicago is home to more than 600,000 disabled people, and their unemployment rate is twice that of the city as a whole. Most employment programs have focused on placing people with disabilities in any job, without considering their interests. “Imagine being told as young as 16 years old that you might love gardening, but we’re going to put you in a workshop packing boxes instead,” says Parker Harris, coprincipal investigator on the two-year, $300,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation. Under the grant, the team is developing a tailored business program that gives disability service agencies nationwide the resources and training to connect their clients with needed business resources. A highly

Sarah Parker Harris (right) and Maija Renko want to see more new businesses led by people with disabilities.

replicable model, customizable for entrepreneurs at various stages, should make the program selfsustainable. The multidisciplinary collaboration between Parker Harris and co-PI Maija Renko, associate professor of managerial studies, began with a pilot program in 2010. Overwhelming response forced them to turn away as many people as they were able to include. “I think it’s really exciting that we’re trying to push through not just the policy barriers and the systemic barriers, but some of the attitudinal barriers,” Parker Harris says.


Border-cross-collaboration The weekly “Journal Club” in which kinesiology associate professor David Marquez leads three doctoral students in discussion of a scholarly journal article has recently taken an international turn.

Students Susie Aguiñaga and Priscilla Vasquez pose “with” their colleagues in Mexico.




Each month, the club expands its members to include, via Skype, a physician and several medical students from the Geriatric Institute of Mexico. All articles reviewed for these meetings relate to the health of older Mexican and Mexican-American adults. The group reads the articles in English and discusses them in Spanish.

“This exchange gives me different perspectives on health disparities, interventions and strategies,” says student Isabela Marques. “It makes me revise my ideas. It’s incredibly eyeopening!” “This is an opportunity to get international, clinical perspectives on crosscultural physical activity and health research,” adds Marquez. “At the same time we get the opportunity to use scientific jargon in Spanish, which we don’t do in daily conversation.”


Prevention is medicine “There’s no longer any mystery about the best way to keep people healthy when it comes to chronic disease,” says Ross Arena, professor and head of physical therapy. “Recent large-scale studies show that 60 to 80 percent of premature cardiovascular events, such as stroke and heart attacks, could be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices.” As lead author on a policy statement issued recently by the American Heart Association, Arena and colleagues have called for a paradigm shift in the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable disease. Authors identify and describe the role played by each stakeholder in population health, and go on to illustrate a nonhierarchical system of collaboration those stakeholders can embrace in order to reduce widespread lifestyle-based diseases. The statement was issued jointly by the AHA, the European Society of Cardiology, the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, and the American College of Preventive Medicine. It was published simultaneously in Mayo Clinic

The paradigm shift suggested by Ross Arena (below) is illustrated in this piece by second-year biomedical visualization student Wai-Man Chan.

Proceedings and the European Heart Journal on July 2, 2015. “Healthy living is medicine,” adds Arena, who has since been named a fellow of the European Society of Cardiology. “Prevention really is always better than cure.”


Informatics PhD fills a need

AHS will offer a new, researchintensive, interprofessional doctoral program in biomedical and health informatics beginning in fall 2016. According to Annette L. Valenta, professor of biomedical and health information sciences and director of graduate studies for the program, the federal government has invested

heavily in health information technology over the past six years.

for methodology. Mentors may be based in any one of 10 UIC colleges.

“Now we have all this data and must push the limits of informatics to extract usable information,” Valenta says, in order to improve quality, safety and efficiency. “Also, we have placed technology in more peoples’ hands than ever before, and must now explore ways to overcome the usability challenges that have emerged.”

“The students’ research will respond to challenging informatics questions that involve all the health professions across all healthcare settings,” says Valenta, adding that the Institute of Medicine’s 2003 report on Health Professions Education identified informatics as one of the five core-competencies for all health professionals.

The focus on research and interprofessionality is among the factors that differentiate the new campus-based doctorate from the online MS in health informatics. Each student will be assigned a primary mentor for specialized research and a secondary mentor

“Our curriculum prepares students to solve today’s complex knowledge management issues,” she says, “and to work with healthcare teams to make sure the informatics work for them.”






Advocating for herself, others Tia Nelis wasn’t completely sure what the term meant when she helped start the “self-advocacy” movement in Illinois more than two decades ago. But her passion for finding her own voice and helping others with disabilities do the same has received national attention. For the Google Impact Challenge celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Nelis was among 10 disability rights leaders whose portraits were displayed on the stairs of national monuments in Washington, D.C., July 24-27, 2015.

Tia Nelis in July 2015 in front of her portrait on the steps of the National Museum of American History.

Her portrait was painted on the stairs of the National Museum of American History, along with her quote: “We want the community to see us as friends, co-workers and neighbors


—Heather Gabel, doctoral student in rehabilitation sciences, speaking Nov. 12 on Vocalo Radio during Diabetes Awareness Month. Gabel is program assistant at DiabetesSisters, a nonprofit that supports women with diabetes. Hear the interview at AHS MAGAZINE

“It’s wonderful that people are celebrating the law, but sometimes, after the hype goes away, so does the talk about it,” says Nelis, a selfadvocacy specialist in the Institute on Disability and Human Development. “We can’t let that happen.” Nelis advocates on a national level as president of the nonprofit Self Advocates Becoming Empowered. “The greatest part of my job is when ... someone else speaks out for the first time,” she says, “and you know that you had a part in making that happen.”


The diabetes community is often really adamant about educating about the difference [between type 1 and type 2 diabetes]. It breaks us apart as a larger community that can effect more change. That’s shaming the type 2 community, and it’s also perpetuating a stereotype that ‘it’s their fault,’ which doesn’t help anybody.”


instead of clients and patients, and to get rid of all those labels that hurt people.”


Don’t just read about AHS. Watch it!

AHS Magazine strives to tell you stories that illustrate our college today, but maybe you wonder about the basic facts of AHS in 2015. Satisfy your curiosity by watching a short video at


Thank you for… AHS students stopped to write messages of thanks to our donors during a fund- and gratitude-drive on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015.


Student work is brand news In December, the National Museum of Health + Medicine Chicago revealed its new logo and, with it, the logo’s designer: Samantha Olson, a second-year student in our biomedical visualization program.

“making everything possible”

“supporting UIC students and student-athletes (like me)”

“We were lucky enough to partner with [the Advanced Graphic Design class in] UIC’s biomedical visualization program to redesign our logo,” said a museum press release. “We were incredibly impressed with the skill and insight that went into every student’s designs, but could only choose one.” The release went on: “Straddling the boundaries between simplicity and complexity, [Olson’s] design eloquently embodies the core concepts that drive NMHMChicago.”

“giving more opportunity”

“your thoughtfulness”

“I was surprised [to be selected] because my peers had also developed beautiful, insightful logos,” says Olson. “We all pushed each other in the project, and that family-like support is why I love my graduate program at UIC.” When asked how it feels to know her work will be on a slate with the identities of other world-class Chicago museums, Olson says, “How cool is that?! I’m truly honored to be involved in representing the NMHMC, an equally wonderful museum among its peers.”

“the opportunity and your generosity”

Hey, that’s no student! But Chancellor Michael Amiridis also thanks donors, for “being part of our community.” WINTER 2016





In memoriam

Savitri K. Kamath, 1930-2015 in her family and in her Indian community to pursue a doctoral degree and a professional career, according to her obituary in the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss. Kamath joined UIC in 1972, when the programs that would make up the college were still only a school in the College of Medicine. She became head of our nutrition department the same year the college was born, leaving little doubt about her instrumental role in establishing the free-standing College of Associated Health Professions, as it was first known. “Dr. Kamath built the department from a professional dietetics program with only a generic master’s in associated medical sciences through the approval of a research-oriented MS degree and finally a PhD [in nutrition],” recalls Phyllis Bowen, professor emerita of nutrition. Bowen adds that Kamath was a key figure in moving the nutrition program into the not-quite-vacated tuberculosis hospital at 1919 W. Taylor, which remains AHS’ main building to this day. “When Human Nutrition and Dietetics moved in, there were beds in the rooms and frying vats still full of oil in the old hospital kitchen,” says Bowen. “Dr. Kamath had a portion of the kitchen cleared and moved the foods teaching lab over from 808 South Wood Street” After 27 years of service to the college, Kamath retired in 1999. Soon after, she and her late husband Krishna moved to Mississippi to be nearer to family.


The AHS community was saddened to learn of the Nov. 8, 2015, death of Savitri Kamath, who served as head of our Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics from 1979 to 1994, and also as interim dean of the college from 1996 to 1999. She passed away in her hometown of Ridgeland, Miss., at the age of 85.

While she moved away from our college, Kamath didn’t entirely leave it behind; she secured her legacy by generously establishing an endowed scholarship for nutrition students at AHS. Every year the Savitri K. and Krishna I. Kamath Scholarship Award supports one deserving student at each degree level: bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral.

Born and raised in India, Kamath earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in her home country before receiving a Ford Foundation Fellowship from Iowa State University. She then came to the U.S. to earn her doctorate in nutrition, which made her the first woman

“Dr. Kamath visited Chicago this September, and I was able to show her the remarkable transformation of the college,” says Bowen. “A true culmination of her dream.”



“Her titles do not speak of Dr. Kamath’s vision, can-do attitude and gentle mentoring at a time that the college had no resources to speak of.” Phyllis Bowen, Professor Emerita, Nutrition

“Savitri was an important figure in our college’s history. She was always supportive of our efforts, and she promoted collaboration and hard work. I’m glad she got to visit in September to see how far we have come.” Gail Fisher, Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy

“Savitri was so supportive as a dean when I was a junior faculty member, both to me individually and to our department and programs too. She will be remembered for her impact on our college.” Joy Hammel, Wade/Meyer Professor, Occupational Therapy

Colleagues remember Dr. Kamath

“Savitri was a delight to work with—a real leader who found a way to get things done.” Gary Albrecht, Professor Emeritus, Disability and Human Development

“I didn’t work directly with Dr. Kamath before she retired, but based on the excellence of people she hired, I know she was instrumental in setting the stage for us to become what we are today.” Carol Braunschweig, Associate Professor, Nutrition




This year, give the gift of a healthier future.


UIC’s College of Applied Health Sciences encourages anyone interested in volunteering for . research studies to register with ResearchMatch. ResearchMatch is a nonprofit effort that brings together academic researchers and people who are willing to participate in health research studies through a secure and convenient online platform.

Register today at




Vision for a vaccinated world Alumnus Brian Taliesin unites people, technology and data to save lives in Africa quick glance at the passport of Brian Taliesin ’13 ms hi reveals a welltraveled life. Entry stamps from Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia and Zambia fill the pages. In the past three years alone, Taliesin has visited Tanzania more than a dozen times. While he enjoys these trips, their purpose goes far beyond international jet-setting. Taliesin is a senior program officer and systems analyst for Seattle-based global health organization PATH.

As such, his frequent flights to Africa are to transform lives for the better. Currently, Taliesin’s work focuses on enhancing vaccine availability and accessibility in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 25 percent of children are underimmunized. Even though vaccines protecting against illnesses such as polio, tuberculosis, measles, rubella, diphtheria and tetanus have been around for years, these preventable diseases are still killers in many developing countries. In fact, according to the World Health

Organization, more than half of the deaths of children under age 5 are attributable to preventable or treatable diseases, and children in sub-Saharan Africa are 15 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than children in developed regions. These statistics inform Taliesin’s role on the Better Immunization Data (BID) Initiative team. Led by PATH and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the BID Initiative forms partnerships with countries to develop improved systems for collecting and WINTER 2016



“Health informatics is the connection among people, data and technology,” Taliesin explains. “We want to improve these connections to make a better system.” In other words, data alone isn’t enough to change outcomes. “Global health data tends to defy gravity—it floats up and never comes back down,” Taliesin notes wryly, citing a common saying in the field. Rectifying this situation means not only collecting accurate and useful immunization data, but

BID Initiative team members train health workers in Tanzania on using a tablet interface to record and use health data.




also sharing it across all levels of the health system. “This data belongs to the country,” stresses Taliesin. “We’ve been working with Tanzania’s ministry of health from the beginning to make sure the project is scalable, sustainable and integrated into the national health infrastructure.” Health workers at Tanzania’s 6,000 clinics were already collecting data on immunizations before the BID Initiative started in 2013, but the paper-based process was cumbersome and error-prone, not to mention time-consuming. Taliesin remembers meeting one health worker who devoted at least three weekend days per month tallying the paper reports. Data that could have been used to

predict disease outbreaks was lost in mountains of paperwork, and some clinics experienced vaccine shortages even though supplies were available elsewhere.

Data into process It was clear that a more efficient and effective method was needed. After gathering input from those on the front lines, the BID Initiative began the process of implementing a national immunization registry. At birth, each child is issued a unique identification number via a barcode sticker on his or her health card. When the child arrives at a clinic for a vaccination, a health worker scans the identification number into the electronic system via a computer or tablet. This simple step not only generates the child’s vaccine schedule; it

courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Riccardo Gangale

leveraging immunization data, so those who need vaccines can actually get them. The initiative’s multipronged approach is a good fit for Taliesin’s health informatics background.

courtesy of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Riccardo Gangale

Taliesin’s work is desperately needed. While annual reported measles incidence declined 73% worldwide between 2000 to 2014, new data shows that overall progress towards global immunization coverage has slowed dramatically since 2010. (Source: World Health Organization’s “Weekly Epidemiological Record,” Nov. 13, 2015)

also becomes another piece in the overall data puzzle. As the registry collection grows, so too does its potential to shape health outcomes. “The registry helps with monitoring patient schedules, predicting supply needs, scheduling clinics and general forecasting,” Taliesin says. “When you’re immunizing 100 kids a day in a busy health center, [these are among the] many factors to consider.” To accommodate clinics that lack access to electricity or the Internet, the registry also features various adaptable technologies, such as optimal mark recognition. In those clinics, health workers complete paper grids (reminiscent of standardized Scantron® tests) for each child vaccinated. When they go to pick up the next month’s vaccine from a local supplier, they

According to the World Health Organization, immunization in Africa also serves as a means to deliver other life-saving interventions, such as vitamin A supplementation. feed the papers through a scanner, thereby capturing the data for the national registry and ensuring the accuracy of future forms. Forms for the next month’s patients are then brought back to the clinic and the cycle begins anew. All told, the BID Initiative aims to follow 2 million Tanzanian children annually through the immunization registry. “With the registry, we know that X number of children are being seen at this particular clinic, that they’re on this particular dose, and that Y more children were recently born

in the area,” Taliesin explains. “As part of the national eHealth strategy, the next step is linking each child’s health record to the supply chain system, which will allow us to automate the vaccine flow to each location.” As Taliesin documents operations and diagrams processes at healthcare facilities, he’s careful to keep an open mind. After all, what works best in the U.S. may not be the right approach elsewhere. The efficiencies enacted by Lucy, a health worker in a particularly busy clinic, emphasize this point. “Lucy optimized multiple aspects of the clinic so she could see more patients every year with her existing staff,” Taliesin says. She groups children by their position in the vaccination schedule, then takes them all together into the vaccination room.




“She basically does batch processing to make sure there are no medical errors,” explains Taliesin. With Lucy’s input, this batchprocessing model and related elements have been incorporated into the automated system. Now mothers come into the clinic and scan their child’s health record, which gives Lucy the information she needs to “make sure she has all the vaccines and [can] get them prepped into the cold box in her [vaccination] room,” says Taliesin.

Education into action The roads in northern Tanzania are often winding, and so too was Taliesin’s path to this particular career. While working at Microsoft, Taliesin became hooked on

books about global healthcare. To transition to that field, however, Taliesin knew he would need to go back to school. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in health information systems from the University of Phoenix, he looked for a reputable master’s program that would take his education further. Taliesin began AHS’ online master’s program in health informatics shortly before starting at PATH. As his travel schedule picked up, he greatly appreciated the program’s flexibility. “Here was a program that allowed me to finish my degree while I was in Africa,” he recalls.

learned became the lens through which I viewed my PATH projects,” he says. “It was exciting to use new skills right away.” Though there is still much to be done, Taliesin remains hopeful. He finds inspiration in PATH’s mission statement, which he easily quotes from memory: “We envision a world where innovation ensures that health is within reach for everyone.” This goal may sound lofty, but— when you take it one scalable step at a time—it’s not only possible, it’s imperative.

Also, the courses made an immediate impact outside the online classroom. “Each lesson I

The hallways at PATH continually remind employees of the importance of their mission and impact of their approach.





An alumna, donor and former department head recalls her many roles at AHS in conversation with a current student not so different from herself


n summer 2015, Winifred Scott ’57 bs ot, finalized a donation to the college that established the Winifred E. Phillips Scott Occupational Therapy Scholarship Fund, earmarked for OT students who have financial need and demonstrate a desire to practice professionally in African-American communities. Not only is Scott an alumna; she was also head of the Department of Occupational Therapy for five years, ending in 1986, when she was succeeded by Gary Kielhofner. After leaving UIC she went on to a second career as an organizational development consultant in the area of diversity. At 81, she has no immediate plans to retire. AHS Magazine wondered about Scott’s experiences as an AfricanAmerican OT student in the

1950s and as the college’s only African-American department head in history. We invited Briana Bonner—a current OT student, also a woman, also African-American—to conduct the interview. Happily, she agreed.

would be the only African-American OT student. And then, going through the history [presented by clinical associate professor of OT Gail Fisher], your face popped up on the PowerPoint! So it’s a great honor to be sitting here with you.

Bonner, a first-generation college student, was a McNair Scholar as an undergraduate at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. The 23-year-old standout student will complete her master’s degree in occupational therapy in July 2016 and intends to pursue a doctorate at AHS.

Dr. Winifred Scott: Thank you, Briana. BB: Tell me about your background and your track to UIC and where you are now?

Bonner went to Scott’s apartment along Lake Michigan in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood for this candid conversation.

WS: I was born in Chicago in Cook County Hospital, and I’ve lived in Chicago for most of my life. I grew up on 61st and Langley, so I’m not very far now from where I lived then. And everything feels like yesterday. Life goes very fast.

Briana Bonner: When I was entering UIC, I was thinking that I

It was January when I graduated from Englewood High School,




So when Bea Wade [founding director of U of I’s OT program] came down to Urbana, she interviewed me. Now, there were four kids in my family, and my mother thought that we should be somebody. So I had taken art lessons at the Art Institute. I took piano lessons from the time I was six until I was 17. I took dramatic art, and I learned how to sew. And all of that interested Bea Wade.

Scott at her graduation from the OT program, June 21, 1957.

because in those days we had mid-year graduations. And what I remember is that I had to be downstate at the University of Illinois1 the next day. My father took me down to school to register, and to the dorm I would live in, LAR [Lincoln Avenue Residence]. And in those days there was segregation; they put most of the black girls on one corridor. But in the dorm there were two girls who were roommates, and they were OTs. I remember them because they were so different from the other kids. They had painted their own furniture. They had something—a sense of self and sense of purpose. I really was impressed with them. So as a sophomore without a major, I took, you know, those preference tests, and the results pointed to the field of occupational therapy and they pointed to law. I didn’t want to do law, but occupational therapy— because I knew those girls—was of interest to me.

Miss Wade had me take a class called “Decorative Processes,” which was knitting, crocheting, hardanger embroidery—you’ve probably never heard of that—and Swedish weaving. They don’t have any of those classes anymore, but I loved them. Everybody else was taking English Literature, and I was taking pottery and decorative processes and so forth. Of course, I was also taking human anatomy and kinesiology. Then there were the “affiliations,” the field work experiences. Do you still call them affiliations?

Winifred Scott and Briana Bonner both served as social chair, some 60 years apart, of Illi-SOTA, the Illinois Student Occupational Therapy Association. BB: We call them field work. WS: Okay. We called them affiliations, and of course we wore those aqua uniforms. BB: Yes. I saw pictures in the hall [of the OT floor at 1919 W. Taylor]. WS: When we visited possible affiliation sites—taking field trips to state hospitals and such—we

wore gloves and hats. In those days there weren’t panty hose, so Bea Wade would make us bend over wearing our aqua uniforms to be sure she could not see the top of our stockings. BB: Wow! WS: Anyway, my second field work experience was psychiatry, and I loved it. It still is what I would do if I were working as an OT. When I was downstate, the barbers on campus would not cut black boys’ hair, and I picketed in front of the barbershops. I bring that up because that’s a thread that has taken me all through my life. I have always been interested in social justice issues, and OT is a social justice profession in its work with people with disabilities. BB: I’m leaning toward [concentrating on] mental health as well. WS: Are you? Why does it interest you? BB: Because I live near South Beverly and I went to Morgan Park High School, so I saw a lot of homelessness. And I always asked myself, “Why do my people have to go through this?” But now I’m aware that it’s a mental health issue, and there has been a lot of closing of mental health facilities on the South Side of Chicago. So [as an undergraduate] I conducted, and even published, some research about developmental disabilities in adults. And then I came across occupational therapy as a field to help people get back to the things they want to do, or venture into things they’re motivated to do even if they have mental disabilities or traumatic brain disorder. But before I started at UIC, I looked at the demographics [of OT degree


When Scott was a student, the program was split between the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus, where students spent their first three years of general education, and the Chicago campus, where seniors completed an intense 16-month professional course in occupational therapy.





“My two mothers: D.L. Phillips and Miss Bea Wade,” wrote Dr. Scott on the back of this photo from her party after graduating from the University of Chicago.

programs]. I thought, “I just got accepted to the No. 4 program in the country, but am I going to be the only African American?” And my mom said, “This is God’s way of telling you that you’re supposed to go down this path.” So when I got here, there were two others and I was comfortable.

So, like you, when I graduated I wanted to work in psychiatry. There was an opening in a hospital in the [affluent, suburban] North Shore, but they would not hire an AfricanAmerican OT. So I worked at Hines VA Hospital, West Side VA [now Jesse Brown VA Medical Center] and later at the U of I Hospital.

Now, since coming to UIC, I’m able to see this vision for my life blossoming, and I’m adding more tools to my tool belt. I really want to be able to go back into communities to be able to help support mental health. My aspiration is to open up my own neighborhood facility for anybody and everybody to come participate—to get people off the streets, to get families more involved in the lives of their relatives with disabilities.

During that time I had two children and my husband was in dental school at Howard University in Washington, D.C. For his first two years I stayed in Chicago, but then we all moved [to D.C.] and I started to work at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which is a psychiatric facility. That’s where I really felt that I became skilled as a psych OT.

WS: Yeah! Be who you want to be!

BB: What was it like to be a minority student in OT in the 1950s and later as department head?

WS: I really felt embraced by Bea Wade and my fellow students; they even chose me to be their representative for Spring Carnival [a former U of I tradition]. Bea Wade was very fair to me the whole time. That was my experience. Many years later when I graduated from the University of Chicago with my PhD, I had a party, and Bea Wade came. As for being head of the department, that was a little bit harder. I had about 23 women faculty and staff, and they had ways of doing things that were very organized, and I was not organized in the same way. I had a long-distance vision, but it wasn’t the step-by-step process they wanted. So I think I was hard for them. I got the job because I had a PhD in education, but in the five years I was head, I had five different deans, and WINTER 2016



her to apply. I really wanted [the admissions committee] to admit this girl, but they didn’t, because we could get young women from the suburbs who would have a 4.5 GPA. That has stayed with me this 20 some odd years since I’ve been away from the university. So I wanted to be able to support a young person, woman or man, who may not have had all of the means that they needed. I’m not giving enough for a full scholarship by any means, but it can encourage someone.

Scott in office as OT department head in the early 1980s

my job was to: 1. publish; 2. manage the undergraduate and master’s programs and the hospital’s OT department; 3. encourage tenured faculty with master’s degrees to get PhDs; and 4. pursue community relations. It was a tall order for a new PhD. BB: Do you have a favorite story or memory from your UIC years? WS: After coming back from Washington D.C., I returned to a clinical faculty role [in the U of I Hospital]; I was head of psychiatric OT at [UIC’s] Neuropsychiatric Institute. In those days there was a movement in psychiatry, to bring everybody in the community together, whether they were doctors or nurses or staff or patients. For us, everybody would come to the OT unit for community meetings once a week. Well, we had a patient on the ward; a boy—12 years old, I think—who had anorexia nervosa and who 18



smoked. He looked like an old man. He had gotten worse on the ward, and when I knew it was near the end, I suggested we have an impromptu community meeting in the OT unit. There, each person could talk if they wanted to. While we were together there, the boy died. His doctor came down in tears. It was so healing for the community to be together and for the patients to see how much [the doctors and staff] really cared for them. And this young doctor had someplace to come where he could talk about how distressing it was that his patient died. That was really a powerful experience for me. BB: You’ve now given a donation to the UIC OT department to fund a scholarship. What do you hope your gift will accomplish? WS: When I was a faculty member, we had a young woman from the Robert Taylor Homes apply to the program. Her GPA was probably a 3.5 out of 5. Growing up in the projects, you could just see what it took for

Besides that, I wanted to make a contribution back to the university because the university did give me a lot. It gave me a profession. And I just wanted to be able to support someone in a way that they need to be supported, however they need it. BB: What advice would you give to students today who want to become leaders? WS: Leadership is the ability to inspire other people with a vision. So I think it’s important for people to think about what’s important to them. Do some reflection about what you are, what you value, what you want, what motivates you and so forth. Know what you are about and what your vision is because you do touch people with that. BB: What are you most proud of? WS: My two daughters and my four grandkids. Everyone leaves a legacy in the way that they leave it; you don’t think about that until you get old. I’m also proud of my involvement in social justice issues. I hadn’t really thought about it until this conversation, but I realize now that that’s been really important to me for my whole life.




And the awards go to … In 2015 the College of Applied Health Sciences was thrilled to honor alumni who stand out in their professions as well as in their commitment to the AHS community. All were on hand to accept their awards at AHS CELEBRATES, an Oct. 24 reception and dinner (see page 24). The college congratulates all our esteemed award winners!

David Reavy ’98 bs pt If this gentleman looks familiar, it might be because he was featured in the last issue of AHS Magazine for his impressive work with professional athletes. That was certainly part of what drew the attention of the person who went on to nominate Reavy for the college’s highest honor, the AHS Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. Reavy earned his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy and, 10 years later, founded React Physical Therapy in Chicago. From that base, he is introducing the world to the Reavy Method™, his own unique approach to PT, which not only addresses injury or impairment, but aims to permanently change people’s ideas about what’s possible for their bodies. His clients, including Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte and Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, have been outspoken in

the media about how loyal they are to the method and to the man himself. “Dave was telling me things about my body, making connections, that no one else had before; he found the root of the problem,” Forte told Men’s Journal in 2014. Beyond his excellence as a clinician, Reavy has shared his expertise broadly as an expert source for articles in the Chicago Tribune, Prevention, SELF, Shape and ESPN Chicago. He is also a regular contributor to Men’s Journal. At React’s 5,000-sq-ft facility, Reavy employs multiple UIC PT graduates and hosts a clinical rotation for DPT students from UIC. He also supports our Chicago community with philanthropic engagement at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls and the Heartland Alliance.

Carol Humble ’82 bs, ’89 ms kines Carol Humble earned two degrees in kinesiology before launching a 12-year career as UIC’s head athletic trainer. In that role she trained, mentored and inspired countless students from our college and others at UIC. Her guidance helped produce successful trainers who have themselves become leaders in the profession. However, the reason Humble was selected for the AHS Loyalty Award was that she has done something the college itself was unable to do: She held together the community of athletic training alumni who felt abandoned when our college discontinued their program. She has kept their pride alive, organizing reunions for them and reminding them with her very




presence of the good that came from their years at UIC. In the words of her nominator, “Carol has a way of reigniting UIC pride in other alumni. [Through her efforts], we’re able to remember all the highlights of our time as students and realize how that time helped develop us into who we are today.”

Vanessa Ruiz ’10 ms bvis Even while earning her master’s degree in biomedical visualization, Vanessa Ruiz, recipient of the AHS New Alum Award, was the driving force behind Street Anatomy, an online art gallery that she expertly curates to highlight the intersection of art and medical illustration. The works she selects come from all media, from drawings to tattoos to interior design.

In part because of Street Anatomy, Ruiz was hired after her graduation from AHS to be an associate art director at the highly-regarded AbelsonTaylor healthcare marketing agency in Chicago. She was soon promoted to senior art director before leaving AT in 2013 to pursue opportunities in user interface and product design.

Street Anatomy has become so popular— see as evidence its more than 84,000 likes on Facebook—that Ruiz received a most prestigious invitation: to speak at TEDMED 2015, which she did on Nov. 20, livestreamed to more than 200,000 viewers in some 140 countries.

Further celebration The following partners and faculty were also recognized during AHS CELEBRATES on Oct. 24, 2015. COMMUNITY PARTNER OF THE YEAR William H. Brown School of Technology/Karie Sahly In 2012, the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition began collaborating with Karie Sahly, assistant principal and physical education teacher at the William H. Brown School of Technology on Chicago’s Near West Side. What started as an arrangement for UIC KN students to lead weekly reading sessions with Brown elementary students has gradually grown to include a weekly exercise and nutrition program for third graders and a character-building and life-skills mentoring program. Thanks to Sahly’s collaboration with UIC KN students, many AHS graduates now have experience that matches their passion for public health, education and health promotion.


COMMUNITY PARTNER OF THE YEAR Refugee Health Task Force Illinois’ Refugee Health Task Force (RHTF) is a coalition of refugee resettlement agencies, health centers, and other community-based refugee service agencies that strive to address emerging health issues facing refugees newly arrived in Illinois. Despite its challenging service mandate, the RHTF has deepened its commitment to students and faculty of AHS’ Department of Occupational Therapy, providing invaluable fieldwork and practicum opportunities. Indeed the RHTF has helped UIC achieve its mission of “fostering scholarship and practices that reflect and respond to the increasing diversity of the U.S. in a rapidly globalizing world.”

Humanitarian of the Year Susan Magasi, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy

Professor of the Year Mark Grabiner, Professor of Kinesiology Educator of the Year Valerie Prater, Clinical Assistant Professor of Health Information Management Researcher of the Year Tim Koh, Professor of Kinesiology Outstanding Academic Leadership Award Karen Patena, Program Director, Clinical Associate Professor of Health Information Management

Staff Award of Merit 2014 Emily Jordan, Business Manager, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition Staff Award of Merit 2015 Robert Gould, Project Coordinator, Department of Disability and Human Development Learn more about these deserving recipients at





All in


The latter half of 2015 brought the college’s flagship event as well as a handful of other events that brought alumni together for noshing and networking. BVIS Dinner at AMI

July 23 Cleveland There was much to celebrate at a dinner for alumni, students and friends hosted by our biomedical visualization program at the 2015 Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) Conference. Craig Gosling ’65 was recognized for winning the University of Illinois Alumni Association’s Loyalty Award. BVIS student Wai-Man Chan ’16 (pictured with winning poster) won three awards in the student salon, including the Orville Parkes Best of Show Award. In the professional salon, Michael Havranek ’00 won an Award of Excellence. And work by the following alumni was honored with Awards of Merit: Todd Buck ’90; Dave Ehlert ’97 and Kristine Johnson ’98 (with Cognition Studio); Trisha Kreibich ’07 (with Radius Digital Sciences); and Heidi Schlehlein ’10.

PT Class of 1975 40th Reunion



September 19 Chicago The physical therapy Class of 1975 kicked off their 40th reunion with a tour of the campus, including visits to the Physical Therapy Faculty Practice and the Harry G. Knecht Movement Science Laboratory (where they are pictured). The group capped the evening with dinner, over which they shared memories of their time as PT students and committed to make individual donations to the Knecht lab. Together they donated $650!


HI and HIM Reception at AHIMA

September 28 New Orleans HI and HIM alumni, students and friends were invited to celebrate their accomplishments at a reception at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) 2015 Convention and Exhibit. At this year’s convention Darice Grzybowski ’83 him was presented with the 2015 AHIMA Literary Legacy Triumph Award for her “significant contribution to the knowledge base of the HIM field though an insightful recent publication.” Also, HIM clinical assistant professors Lois Hitchcock and Valerie Prater were named fellows of AHIMA.

University of Illinois President’s Reception

HIM In-Service

October 13 Washington, D.C.

October 16 Chicago

U of I alumni from all three campuses living in the D.C. area were invited to a private reception and conversation with U of I President Timothy Killeen, where he shared his insights into the current state of the university and his vision for its future.

The HIM Class of 2016 hosted alumni and professionals at UIC for a morning of learning and professional development. This year’s program on current trends in HIM offered attendees up to four continuing education credits. Each year HIM seniors organize an in-service from concept to execution. WINTER 2016




AHS CELEBRATES: Recognizing our reach through alumni, faculty and partners

October 24 Chicago The college’s showcase event of the year, AHS CELEBRATES was everything the name promised. Emceed by Dustin Jesberger ’15 pt, the dinner event was held at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame on Taylor Street. Attendees networked over cocktails as Chicago’s beautiful skyline towered in the background. During dinner, UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis delivered inspiring remarks before we presented awards to outstanding alumni, faculty, staff and community partners (see page 20). 24



7th Annual Alumni Chat November 10 Chicago More than 30 freshmen and sophomore kinesiology students got to have dinner with eight accomplished alumni who came to campus to share details of their own paths to success. The annual event is a favorite among undecided students as they start to focus their vision for their own professional lives. AHS warmly thanks the following alumni for participating: Carol Blindauer ’83 nutr (pictured), Health and wellness strategy/marketing executive Randy Frieser ’85 pt, President of Revolution Physical Therapy Weight Loss Darice Grzybowksi ’83 him, Founder and president of HIMentors Adriana Guerrero ’10 kines, Exercise physiologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Bariatric Clinic Dustin Jesberger ’15 pt, Physical therapist at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Narci Martinez ’98 ot (pictured), Occupational therapist at Chicago Public Schools Jean Ragalie-Carr ’83 nutr, President of the National Dairy Council Winifred Scott ’57 ot, Principal at Winifred E. Scott Associates

PT Class of 2005 10th Reunion November 21 Chicago Five intrepid alumni braved Chicago’s first snow storm of 2015 to celebrate together over a meal after touring the Physical Therapy Faculty Practice and their old PT classrooms. “I believe the impression left by the tour renewed [our] sense of pride as UIC PT graduates!” said organizer Anita Sanchez (pictured, far left).

More photos from several of these events can be found on the AHS Facebook page at facebook. com/UIC.AHS




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

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AHS Magazine - Winter 2016  

The publication for alumni and friends of the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago

AHS Magazine - Winter 2016  

The publication for alumni and friends of the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago