2017-2018 Cohort

CJ Bruske (headshot)Christopher "CJ" Bruske

University of Arizona
Majors: Neuroscience and Cognitive Science | Minors: Biochemistry and Spanish
Undergraduate - Bachelor of Science
Certificate in Developmental Disabilities

I am a senior Neuroscience and Cognitive Science major at the University of Arizona. My emphasis is in aging and development, and I also have minors in Spanish and Biochemistry. My experience with individuals with disabilities began when I was growing up, as I grew up with a close family friend with autism. I am lucky enough to be a peer mentor for Project FOCUS (Fostering Opportunities with Community and University Supports), a program that empowers students with intellectual disabilities to take courses and be involved in campus life. I am also apart of the Honors College, Flying Samaritans, Pre-MD Ambassadors, research in the L4 Lab, and intramural sports on campus. I hope to one day attend medical school and continue to be an advocate for those with disabilities in my community as a physician. 


No photo availableYvonne M. Bueno, MPH, OTR/L

University of Arizona
Public Health
Graduate - Doctor of Public Health
Research Assistant

I have had several years of experience working with children and families with developmental disabilities as a practicing pediatric Occupational Therapist for the past 19 years.  I completed my masters in public health in maternal and child health in 2014 to complement my health care career.  I am also currently a doctoral student in the U of A's College of Public Health where I am hoping to broaden my work with maternal and child health and disabilities populations upon completion of my DrPH. 


Kathryn Chung (headshot)Kathryn Chung

University of Arizona
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science | Minors: Adolescents, Community, & Education and Chinese
Undergraduate - Bachelor of Science
Research Assistant; 2017 Certificate in Developmental Disabilities Graduate

I am currently a senior at the University of Arizona pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science with an emphasis on aging and development. My minors are in education (ACE) and Chinese. I am heavily involved in a project called the Brain Bus, which strives to bring accessible brain education for the public. I am also participating in researching sleep and learning of children with Down Syndrome under Dr. Jamie Edgin. I am hoping to go to graduate school to study more about holistic approaches to helping people with IDD.


Clare Emmert (headshot)Clare Emmert

University of Arizona
Majors: Special Education & Rehabilitation and Family Studies & Human Development
Undergraduate - Bachelor of Science
Research Assistant; Certificate in Developmental Disabilities

I am a Junior at the UofA working towards a dual degree in Family Studies and Human Development and Special Education and Rehabilitation. My first experience of working with people with disabilities was through Project FOCUS, where I continue to be a peer mentor who supports college students with intellectual disabilities in building self-determination and independence. Through Project FOCUS, I discovered my passion for actively supporting the inclusion and equal participation of people with disabilities in my community. I am a part of Tucson ADAPT, where I am an activist for disability rights, and am an intern at the UofA Disability Resource Center, where I ensure campus events and engagements are accessible and inclusive to students with disabilities. This past year, I travelled to Fiji to work with children with disabilities, and have worked as a research assistant in the UofA Early Developmental Studies lab, exploring eye-gaze and social attention in infants at-risk for autism. My future goals include becoming an Occupational Therapist, and continuing to support individuals with disabilities in leading meaningful lives through equal participation and full inclusion.


Belinda Escalante (headshot)Belinda Escalante, BSW

Arizona State University
Social Work
Graduate - Master of Social Work
Intern

I’m a graduate student completing the Advanced Standing Masters in Social Work degree program specializing in Policy, Administration, and Community Practice (PAC). My expected graduation date is May 2018. My undergraduate degree was in Social Work, and my internship was with ASU Bridging Success as a Success Coach serving foster care alumni students at the university. As a non-traditional student with many years of work experience, I have worked with diverse populations. Most notably working with youth, young adults, and adults that have a disability while employed with Tempe Union High School District, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, and Arizona Department of Education. These professional positions have given me a depth of real-life experience, and this is why I'm a huge advocate of transition services. I’m passionate about employment and education access as a way for people to gain a sense of stability and self-sufficiency.


Brianna Heath sitting in field of flowersBrianna Heath

University of Arizona
Neuroscience | Undergraduate - Bachelor of Science
Certificate in Developmental Disabilities

I am a Senior at the University of Arizona, working towards a degree in Neuroscience with an emphasis in Aging and Development. I began working with people with disabilities during an independent study I completed in Prosthetics and Orthotics in 2014. With the support and mentorship of the clinicians I have worked with then and since, I have volunteered at clinics throughout North Texas and Southern Arizona, providing prosthetic and orthotic care to patients from all walks of life. I was introduced to the UCEDD through my coursework for my emphasis, where I learned just how critical disability studies would be to my career and the care of my future patients. This year, I’m hoping to expand on my knowledge of developmental disabilities and how best to provide healthcare for people with IDD, and to explore how to make prosthetic and orthotic care more accessible to marginalized populations. My goal for the future is to attend graduate school to earn my MS in Prosthetics and Orthotics and use my UCEDD education to better support my future patients. 


Alison Luongo (headshot)Alison Luongo

University of Arizona
Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences
Undergraduate - Bachelor of Science
Research Assistant; Certificate in Developmental Disabilities

My journey to studying Neuroscience and Cognitive Science started in the 4th grade when our class was looking for volunteers to teach children with developmental disabilities and learning disabilities to read. I began working with a kindergartener named Joey who had Down syndrome. We became good friends and even though I moved away that summer, I continued my interest in Down syndrome by volunteering with two girls in my new middle school who also had Down syndrome. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Neuropsychology when a guest speaker with a traumatic brain injury came to talk to our class about the resiliency of his neuropsychologists who helped him increase his short-term memory from 2 minutes to 45 minutes. Before he could barely walk but when he came to talk to our class, he danced for us at the end. It was incredibly moving and from then on, I knew this was the career for me. I hope to get a degree in Clinical Neuropsychology to provide neurorehabilitation and intervention services for children with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and brain cancer. Previous work experience I have with children with developmental disabilities was working as a Registered Behavior Technician providing ABA Therapy to a child with Autism. Today, I am a senior working in the Memory Development and Disorders Lab as an Undergraduate Research Assistant. I manage the Deferred Imitation Task within the AMAP Study, and will be completing a Thesis looking at how sleep influences temporal recall in Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. With this certificate program, I hope to gain the knowledge of how to advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities in a variety of professional, community, and academic setting. 


Zonnie Olivas (headshot)

Graciela “Zonnie” Olivas, AS

University of Arizona
Public Health | Minors: American Indian Studies & Pre-Health Thematic Minor
Undergraduate - Bachelor of Science
Research Assistant, Diversity Fellow

I am a junior at the University of Arizona pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health. I aspire to obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Health after completion of my Bachelor’s degree, and ultimately apply to medical school. Acquiring expertise in both public health and clinical medicine will allow me to view health on a wider scope of practice, and achieve improvements in overall community health. I came to the Sonoran UCEDD as a result of participating in the UA College of Medicine’s Border Latino & American Indian Summer Exposure to Research (BLASIER) program. I was paired with Dr. Julie Armin as my research mentor and will assist in evaluating the UCEDD’s cultural and linguistic competency. As a future health care provider and public health professional, I recognize the significance of building upon my knowledge of cultural and linguistic competency. The knowledge and experience I will gain from my time at the UCEDD will be significant in helping me reach my goal of catering to the health care needs of individuals from diverse backgrounds.


Grace Samtani (headshot)Grace Samtani, BS

Texas A & M University
Neuroscience
Graduate - Doctor of Philosophy
Research Assistant

Grace Samtani recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor's degree in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science with an emphasis in Development and Aging. She is currently working on a literature review project and manuscript under the guidance of medical anthropologist Dr. Julie Armin in order to investigate cancer treatment and survivorship outcomes in people with developmental disabilities. Grace is currently pursuing her PhD at the Institute of Neuroscience at Texas A & M in order to research disorders of the central nervous system.


No photo availableWarren Sanchez

Tohono O'odham Community College
Social Services
Associates of Arts
Intern

 

 


Krishna Scott-Mattias (headshot)Krishna Scott-Mattias, AA

Tohono O'odham Community College
Social Services
Intern

I was born and raised in Sells, AZ, a community on the Tohono O’odham Nation. I have recently earned my Associates of Arts in Social Services from Tohono O’odham Community College. I will pursue my Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at ASU in the Spring of 2018. Throughout my life, I have interacted with family members and friends with disabilities. I engaged with the disabled working as a middle school counselor’s aide, a special education teacher-aide, and while employed with Vocational Rehabilitation. I enjoy empowering individuals to grasp their full potential and achieve their goals. It is my opinion that Native Americans express themselves better through art, therefore, my goal is to develop a culturally relevant approach in art therapy. I hope to work with individuals with and without disabilities in the area of Child and Family Art Therapy on the Tohono O’odham Nation. Ocial


Samantha Stoneham (headshot)Samantha Stoneham, AA

University of Arizona
Major: Psychology | Minor: Special Education & Rehabilitation
Undergraduate - Bachelor of Arts
Certificate in Developmental Disabilities

I am currently a senior at the University of Arizona pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minoring in Special Education & Rehabilitation. I am currently participating in a research program called UROC-PREP/AWARDSS where during the Summer of 2017 I conducted research on teaching receptive labeling to toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I will be continuing my research in this area with the Sonoran UCEDD in the certification for developmental disabilities program.