Skip to main content

Black History Month offers a unique time to celebrate African American and Black people in the Department of Allied Health Sciences community who have made and continue to make significant and valued contributions through their work, relationships and commitment to service. We hope you’ll join us in recognizing the amazing accomplishments of our Black students, faculty, staff and alumni in February and year-round.


Stephanie Casnave, Physical Therapy Student

According to her instructors, Stephanie has demonstrated a commitment to leadership and service during her time in the physical therapy program, making meaningful contributions to the division, the community and the profession. She served as the physical therapy student representative for the Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) from 2020-2021, an organization which supports local underserved communities through free, comprehensive healthcare and social services. In this role she led volunteer recruitment efforts and volunteered as a member of the interdisciplinary team. Despite her many responsibilities, Stephanie makes time to support her peers, ensuring they feel connected and conveying to them how vital they are to our department.

Stephanie also serves on both the DAHS JEDI Team and the Division of Physical Therapy’s DEI committee. She helped develop the Minority Mentor Match program which connects physical therapy students with mentors in the profession matched by professional and clinical interests.

“I am thankful to the faculty, staff and students at UNC for making my graduate experience one I will always cherish,” says Stephanie. “The organizations that I have worked with helped to foster and grow my passion for improving diversity and inclusivity within higher education and healthcare. I am excited that many of the initiatives and programs have started to gain headway and I am thrilled to see what the future holds.”


Pamela Morrison, Administrative Support Specialist

Pam is well-known and loved within the Department of Allied Health Sciences – she has worked at UNC since 1995 and in the DAHS since 2013. She manages a heavy load of foundational work, including planning travel, processing reimbursement, ensuring supplies are readily available and maintaining records for the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies (CLDS), the Division of Clinical Laboratory Science and the Division of Radiologic Science.

Recently, Pam has gone above and beyond her typical duties by managing a bi-weekly pickup of community protective equipment (CPE) to ensure all areas of the DAHS are equipped to stay safe. Her service extends beyond the divisions she works with directly – for years she has led the Department of Allied Health Sciences team for the State Employees Combined Campaign, and she is a regular volunteer for the UNC Blood Drive.

Pam has been described as the heart of the CLDS because she supports communication, relationships and morale through thoughtful words and actions. Everyone experiences a lift of spirits even when they just pass Pam in the hall. She is the first to celebrate accomplishments and offer support in times of frustration or need. From bundt cakes to personalized drinking glasses and homemade bottles of lavender spray, Pam is always thinking of others.

“Wow! I am truly honored,” says Pam. “I am thankful that my colleagues nominated me. I feel so blessed to work with such amazing people. I can honestly say in my 25 years at UNC that this is the greatest department I have ever worked for.”


Cephus Simmons, ’07, ’12 MRS

Cephus graduated in 2007 from the post-baccalaureate Radiologist Assistant program and later in 2012 with a Master’s in Radiologic Science from the Division of Radiologic Science. His time in Chapel Hill was a self-described “blur” – he was a nontraditional student with more than a decade of work experience, four children and a full-time job after class.

For 11 years Cephus worked as an Interventional Radiology Operations Manager at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in Charleston. When he returned after receiving his MRS from UNC, his role shifted to Radiologist Assistant (RA) and he became consistently more involved in developing processes, protocols and ideas to improve patient and practitioner experiences.

He recently developed the Cephus Catheter, a double balloon colorectal catheter that benefits both children and adults that was FDA approved in 2019, and launched his new company, SealCath. Cephus has proven to be an innovator, trailblazer and problem-solver over the course of his impressive career.


Khalilah Johnson, PhD, MS, OTR/L

Dr. Khalilah Johnson is an assistant professor in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. She is actively involved in DEI efforts not only in the Department of Allied Health Sciences but also across UNC’s campus, the state of North Carolina and within the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy community.

Her colleagues and peers appreciate Khalilah’s intellect and commitment to her students, and they recognize how often she goes above and beyond when it comes to initiatives that benefit the greater good of the department and UNC’s campus.

For example, she served as a panelist during a recent workshop for all DAHS PhD students that focused on racial equity in academia and research and was hosted by The Professional Seminar Committee in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Khalilah is also a member-at-large on the board of Carolina Black Caucus and has spoken on panels hosted by the American Occupational Therapy Association; the Society for the Study of Occupation, USA; the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity; and other organizations around the world.

Additionally, she and fellow faculty member Dr. Ryan Lavalley produce and host a podcast, Dr. thOTs, which colleagues describe as a true commitment and gift to the discipline of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Khalilah recently received the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Equity Scholars for Action award, which will support her project, Disrupting the Cycle of Inaccessible Healthcare and Community Supports for Minoritized People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In 2021, she received a 2021 MLK Unsung Hero Award from the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, an initiative of the Office of the Provost at UNC-Chapel Hill.


Learn more about the Department of Allied Health Sciences and its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion on our website.