Health Disparities and Social Justice SOPC

Focus on the inequities and challenges faced by marginalized populations

The Health Disparities and Social Justice Scholarship of Practice Collaborative focuses on the inequities and challenges faced by marginalized populations. Guided by the UIC Scholarship of Practice Model, this collaborative aims to advance knowledge, promote research and develop innovative strategies to reduce health disparities and promote social justice in collaboration with our communities.

The collaborative seeks to facilitate empowerment of individuals, groups and populations from underserved areas and enhance their access to evidence-informed occupational therapy services through interdisciplinary collaboration and guidance of social justice principles. By prioritizing the understanding of cultural contexts, socioeconomic factors and systemic barriers, we create meaningful and sustainable changes in occupational therapy practice that promote health equity and social justice for all.

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Enhancing health equity through culturally responsive occupational therapy practice

Dalmina Arias‘ scholarship focuses on achieving health equity through the provision of evidence-based and culturally responsive occupational therapy practice. She specializes in chronic disease self-management and has extensive knowledge and experience developing sustainable interventions that promote participation and healthy living among minoritized individuals.

Learn more about Dalmina's scholarship

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Developing occupation-based self-management interventions

Heidi Fischer works to enhance participation, inclusion and advocacy with people who have disabilities or chronic health conditions. Heidi and her team contributed to the development and implementation of occupation-based, self-management interventions in the rehabilitation setting. She also participated in the creation of novel collaborative and interdisciplinary self-management services for the UIC OT Faculty Practice.

Learn more about Heidi's scholarship

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Improving health care justice for people with disabilities

Susan Magasi directs the Healthcare Justice for People with Disabilities Research Lab. She and members of her lab work closely with disability and cancer survivorship communities and inter-disciplinary colleagues to create innovative peer support and technology-enabled interventions aimed at breaking down barriers to health and social participation for people with disabilities.

Learn more about Susan's scholarship

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Developing health services innovations for social justice

Mansha Mirza is the director of Partners of Refugees in Illinois Disability Employment. She works to enhance health and social services for low-income, underserved communities, with a special focus on immigrant and refugee newcomers. Her current research focuses on policy and programmatic innovations such as organizational capacity-building, language access trainings, and collaboration with community health workers and peer mentors.

Learn more about Mansha's scholarship

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Addressing health disparities

Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar’s research focuses on understanding health disparities experienced by people from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds who have disabilities or chronic health conditions, as well as their families.  Yolanda and her community partners are developing and validating culturally relevant community-level interventions to address organizational, environmental and systemic factors that promote health equity and well-being.

Learn more about Yolanda's scholarship

Student members

SOPC faculty and their inaugural cohort of student members organize a potluck to launch their efforts.

Student members are central to the collaborative. They work with faculty to design and conduct innovative capstone projects that are responsive to the needs of community partners.

Class of 2025 studentsClass of 2026 students
Dalia Al-SheikhAndrea Adap
Vanessa AtterLydia Delgado
Galila DandridgeBridget Egan
Yunshen Li Nicholas Erizo
Madz Faith C. Linatoc Yazmin Esparza
Janelly Macias-Martinez Sara Gonzales
Tenzin Pema Samra Haseeb
Jenny Pham Jeremy Manlapaz
Luz Maria Rocha Monica Moy
Isabella Rosas Shahzeen Qureshi
Mariela Saenz Kiara Rana
Julia Gabrielle Sim
Bana Sunbuli
Edward Vaquedano Jazmin Villanueva
Maya Soto
Kimberly Martinez

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SOPC in action

We recognize that the importance of quality clothing for individuals seeking to perform and participate in valued occupations that take place in home, school, work and community settings. SOPC members Janelly, Isabella, Mariela and Yolanda organized a departmental winter clothing drive for recently arrived migrants to Chicago, to support their access to occupation. This drive extends student efforts to organize a drive for the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago. This activity is just one example of current scholarly efforts from those who belong to our scholarly collaborative.

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Want to learn more about the Health Disparities and Social Justice SOPC? Curious how this collaborative fits in with your career and education goals?

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