The School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS) honored alumnus Howard Shane with the SPHHS Award for Significant Contributions to the field of public health and the health sciences and alumnus Efosa Guobadia with its inaugural SPHHS Distinguished Young Alumni Award during its 8th annual Fall Celebration Sept. 23 at the Fine Arts Center.
A world-renowned pioneer in creating software and technological applications to offer communication solutions for people who are unable to speak, Shane is also at the forefront of the burgeoning field known as augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). He and his team of innovators are currently working on a range of mobile technology applications, including iPad-based solutions and wearable technology such as the Apple Watch as a means to further promote independence. Shane holds the Center for Communication Enhancement Chair in the department of otolaryngology and communication enhancement at Boston Children’s Hospital where he has been a practicing clinician for 40 years. He also serves as a faculty member with both Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professions.
Shane, who received his bachelor’s in sociology and master’s in speech-language pathology from UMass Amherst before earning his doctorate at Syracuse University in 1975, spoke to the challenges he faced as a young sociology alumnus working as a teacher in the Belchertown State School, a now-shuttered institution for the disabled which earned a reputation for inhumane conditions and poor treatment of its patients. Shane recounted how, after he was fired from the institution, communication disorders faculty member Henry Pierce took him under his wing and encouraged him to pursue graduate studies in the department. He spoke passionately of the impact Pierce’s mentorship – and the mentorship of other faculty members in the department – played in setting him on his career path in speech-language pathology.
Similarly, Guobadia discussed how his UMass “family” helped to prepare him for his future both a physical therapist and as a global health visionary. Guobadia, who is the co-founder, president and CEO of Move Together, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to quality rehab medicine around the corner and around the world, as well as the the co-founder and co-director of the international initiative Physical Therapy (PT) Day of Service, shared his abiding connection to the university which he still thinks of as “home.” He also spoke to more than 100 students interested in his insights into physical therapy, non-profit organizations and global health during a talk and Q&A session on Sept. 22 in the Integrative Learning Center.
Guobadia, who received his bachelor’s in kinesiology, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Scranton in 2010.