Our graduates are finding careers ranging from academic appointments in the burgeoning field of Disability Studies (including tenure track positions), to leadership positions in social service and government agencies (Policy Analyst, AUCD; Assistant Vice President for Development, Easter Seals), to advocacy positions internationally (Development Manager, International Paralympic Committee), to Prestigious post-doctorates (Marie Curie Fellowship).
Read about recent Disability Studies graduate, Luca Badetti, in the UIC News:
"Alumnus finds similarities in differences"
Class of '15 | AHS
Rebekah Moras obtained her PhD in Disability Studies in August 2015. Her dissertation was a feminist mixed methods evaluation of the curriculum, “Illinois Imagines Project: Improving Services to Women with Disabilities who have been Victims of Sexual Violence.”
While at UIC, she was an active member of the Sexuality and Disability Consortium, held a graduate research position at the Great Lakes Americans with Disabilities Act Center, and teaching assistantships in the psychology, and Gender and Women’s Studies departments.
Currently, Rebekah works in a research and evaluation position at the Center for Human Development, the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Ultimately, her dream is to become a disability studies professor in a gender and women's studies department, bridging intersectional, critical cultural studies with the national Association of University Centers on Disabilities network.
Lieke van Heumen
Class of '15 | AHS
Lieke is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Disability and Human Development. She is a 2015 graduate of the Department’s PhD program in Disability Studies. She received both her undergraduate and master degrees in psychology with a specialization in gerontology from the Radboud University in the Netherlands. Lieke worked as a psychologist in five group homes for people with intellectual disabilities in the Netherlands.
Lieke’s primary research interest is the intersection of aging and disability with a focus on supports that contribute to aging well. Her dissertation research explored how social relations of older adults with intellectual disabilities develop and change across the life course. She believes retrieving the lived experiences of older adults with disabilities by means of inclusive and accessible research methods is key to assuring the meaningful engagement of adults with disabilities in the research process.
Under the mentorship of Dr. Tamar Heller at the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging with Developmental Disabilities at UIC, Lieke participated in research on the experiences of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in a self-directed services program. In the Netherlands she coordinated a research project on the impact of individual future planning supports on the quality of life of young adults with intellectual disabilities and their families during the transition to adulthood in the city of Almere, the Netherlands.
Currently Lieke is involved in a study at UIC evaluating the implementation of the Ligas consent decree that stipulates the provision of community based services to adults with developmental disabilities on the waiting list of in large congregate settings in Illinois.
Class of '04 | AHS and '08 | UIS (Honors College)
Meena graduated in 2004 and currently works with MphasiS, a multinational IT company headquartered in Bangalore, India. She is the Head of Global Corporate Social Responsibility and leading company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives with a focus on creating equal opportunities for persons with disabilities Accomplishments
Her significant achievements include:
• Recognized by the CEO for outstanding contribution and commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility 2008
• XIth NCPEDP-Shell Helen Keller Award 2009 in individual category for promoting employment of persons with disabilities
• MphasiS Ambassador Award for outstanding contribution to Corporate Social Responsibility 2009
• President’s National Award in the category of Best Individuals Promoting Employment Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 2010
What Meena has to say...
"The degree empowered me with knowledge on disability, imparted research rigor, made me understand what equality in the true sense is, helped me become a strong advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities, helped shape ideas and thoughts around disability rights discourse and imparted skills which have helped me to shape and effect policy changes. It opened a world of opportunities for me. As a professional and an individual it made me disability confident.
"Enjoy the Disability Studies program. UIC is a great place to study and DHD indeed shapes your professional and personal lives in many positive ways."
Class of '02 | AHS
Sara graduated in December 2002 with an MS in disability studies. Her area of expertise is the history of gender, disability, and eugenics in the United States and Germany. She is currently working as a disability specialist at the UIC Disability Resource Center, where she works with students with disabilities on campus, helping to ensure that they have equal access to all components of University life.
What Sara has to say...
The Disability Resource Center at UIC approaches disability services from a social model perspective, rather than a medical model. Therefore, my education in DHD was invaluable to the role I now play. With respect to my academic life, I would not be where I am, pursuing my PhD if it wasn’t for the students and faculty in DHD.
I cultivated friendships with fellow students during classes primarily. I also roomed with a few students in the program throughout my tenure at UIC.
My advice for new students is "You can do it!"
Class of '02 |
Amy works with UNICEF as the Focal Point on Disability. She graduated in 2002 , and her area of expertise is inclusive development for individuals with disabilities.
What Amy has to say...
"Thanks to the perspective and knowledge gained from the Disability Studies program at UIC, I have been able to develop a career internationally and in multiple areas. My initial interests were with physical activity and disability research but have steadily expanded into broader issues. These issues include advocating for human rights; increasing global awareness; and justifying the role of sport, including recreation and play, as a viable vehicle to reach international development objectives such as the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.
"Since graduating from UIC in 2002, I have worked in Kosovo and Germany and have been responsible for relations with more than 160 nations. In my current position as development manager with the International Paralympic Committee, I have had incredible opportunities to interact with major international organizations such as the United Nations and to provide direct input on policies and programs. In addition, I had the honor and great pleasure to be present at the United Nations to witness the completion of the Convention on the Rights and Dignities of Persons with Disabilities. Following this significant moment in history, it is now critical that we all come together to see the ratification, implementation and monitoring of the Convention."
Class of '13 | AHS
Vijay is a graduate of the PhD program in Disability Studies in the Fall of 2013. He received his Masters in Public Health and Bachelors in Health Science from the University of Florida. Vijay’s research interest is health promotion for people with disabilities. His dissertation focused on the development of a valid, reliable barriers to physical activity questionnaire for people with mobility disabilities.
He was a Graduate Research Assistant under Dr. James H. Rimmer at the Center on Health Promotion Research for Persons with Disabilities. Vijay conducted several focus groups across the country, analyzed the interviews, and assembled the item bank which was based on more than 1400 items identified through the focus groups and systematic literature review. On the NIH Health Empowerment Zone study Vijay analyzed data on the relationship between secondary conditions and community participation. Vijay was a Postdoctoral Research Associate for the Institute on Disability and Human Development. He helped in the evaluation of the Illinois’ Transitions Initiative to reduce institutionalization of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD).
Vijay also managed a longitudinal database from the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project to work on a peer-reviewed brief report to identify if there is an “Olmstead Effect” on state spending on community supports for people with IDD. Currently Vijay is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University Florida in the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy. Here he will examine the determinants and factors contributing to the quality and outcomes of care for individuals who receive Medicaid. Additionally he will examine the factors associated with emergency room use for individuals with IDD.
Class of '14 | AHS
Kate Caldwell, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she received her doctorate in disability studies and currently works on the Chicagoland Entrepreneurship Education for People with Disabilities project (www.CEEDproject.org). Having also received a Masters' degree from the University of Chicago in interdisciplinary social sciences, she brings this expertise to approaching complex issues where various fields intersect and facilitating dialogue across disciplines. Her research in the area of employment and social policy has focused on the experiences of people with disabilities, and I/DD in particular, in entrepreneurship. This is a topic that allows her to bridge the fields of disability studies and entrepreneurship studies by integrating theoretical advancements that have been made in feminist theory, citizenship theory, and social justice. Kate is serving on the National Task Force on Workforce Development and Employability for People with Disabilities as an advisor for the Subcommittee on Entrepreneurship, Tax Incentives & Procurement. For two and a half years she served as the Editorial Coordinator for the AAIDD journal, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and is currently a board member for the Society for Disability Studies and co-founder of the interest group on Work Employment & Society.
Kate is a theorist, having written on the intersection of bisexuality and disability. Her work has contributed to the inclusion of disability in The Bisexuality Report and the inclusion of bisexuality in the Global Disability Rights Library. She is also a methodologist and developed the technique for conducting Dyadic Interviews with individuals with intellectual disabilities, which is informed by critical disability studies. She also developed the best practice recommendation for the Association of University Centers on Disabiliites, and currently in use by the Institute on Disability and Human Development at UIC, for creating plain language summaries for academic articles.