Some of this content was produced prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our world has seen many changes this year, and the Department of Allied Health Sciences at UNC School of Medicine is no exception. What has not changed, however, is our steadfast commitment to our mission of exemplary teaching, innovative research and person-centered clinical care.
—Stephen R. Hooper, PhD
Division of Clinical Laboratory Science
Neil Patel ’18 trained as a clinical laboratory scientist, but never imagined he’d work with a team of scientists and researchers to fight the spread and intensity of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. A former Susan Lanning-Taylor Clinical Laboratory Science Program Endowment Fund scholar, Patel worked with other researchers this spring to specifically test which antibodies in combination will be the most potent to combat the virus. “There are some great people all over who are either working on the cure or helping conduct trials to repurpose current drugs,” Patel said. “I think everyone is hopeful that either Regeneron, or any of the other pharmaceutical companies, will create something to help a lot of people.”
Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling
Stephens Whitehurst, a second-year master’s degree student, found a passion for studying autism while an undergraduate. The Wilmington, North Carolina, native said funds are tight as she pursues employment, but that scholarship funds from the Kimberly Floyd-Flood Scholarship in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling have helped. “I am truly so grateful for this scholarship which is allowing me to focus more on my studies as opposed to my financial situation. This scholarship is helping me to finish the program strong in order to graduate this spring.”
Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences
Patricia Johnson (’13 AuD), has offered practical advice to clinicians, patients, and communities when it comes to communication while wearing a mask. Johnson teaches Doctor of Audiology students at the UNC Hearing and Communication Center.
Physician Assistant Studies
Emily Wilkins, a second-year Physician Assistant Studies student from Rutherfordton, North Carolina, is a William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust scholar. When the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily put student clinical rotations on hold, Wilkins decided her experience as a paramedic prior to PA school would be beneficial to rural communities. “Since working as a paramedic again, I feel like I am helping my community in the best way that I can,” she explained.
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy students, alongside master’s degree students in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling, have completed their second year of an interdisciplinary collaboration designed to support young adults with intellectual disabilities. With ongoing support from the Oak Foundation, students have fostered community and resilience among participants.
“Although this pandemic is separating and distancing us, building a sense of community is incredibly important during this time.” […] HEELS Prep offers a platform to support one another and engage in a collective purpose,” said Hailey Ellinger ’17 (’20 MS).
Division of Physical Therapy
Leslie Sierra-Arévalo, a third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, said scholarship funding has relieved the financial burden of graduate school and given her less to worry about following graduation. “It’s really just kind of helped lift the financial burden that grad school is,” Sierra-Arévalo said. So, with that help, it was my books for my semester, some of my utilities and bills for the semester.”
Division of Radiologic Science
Mariah Jakobsen-Lopez, a senior in the Division of Radiologic Science, transferred to Carolina from a community college in California to pursue her bachelor’s degree.
“I wanted to be in collaboration with my cohort. I didn’t want to feel like I was competing.” […] I really got the sense that we would all be there for each other.”
Neurodiagnostics and Sleep Science
Kay McFadden is a non-traditional student, and a mother to six children. She said receiving an Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation scholarship is life changing and allowed her to attend higher levels of education without financial constraints.
“It proves that with hard work and determination, all things are possible,” McFadden said. She said the scholarship will allow her to remain up to date on advancements in the field so she can be the best advocate for patients, their families, and their communities.