September 28, 2017
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 held September 23rd at the Fine Arts Center.
Dean Marjorie Aelion introduced and presented Shane with his award. 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, and also serves as a faculty member with both Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professions.
Shane, who received both his BA in 1969 and his MA in speech-language pathology in 1972 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst before earning his PhD 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 being 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 career as 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, in turn, provided mentorship to over 100 current UMass students interested in Guobadia’ insights into physical therapy, non-profit organizations, and global health during a talk and Q&A session held Friday, September 22nd in the Integrative Learning Center.
Guobadia, who received his BS in Kinesiology from the UMass Amherst in 2007 before earning his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the University of Scranton in 2010, received the award from Dean Aelion following an introduction from Thomas St. Laurent, lecturer and undergraduate program director in Kinesiology.
Nearly 100 alumni, faculty, staff and students attended the brunch reception, which also included opening and closing remarks from Dean Aelion and featured a series of student speakers who provided highlights of their experiences in SPHHS. Student speakers included graduate students Jouli Gobrial, communication disorders; Durga Kolla, environmental health sciences; Greg Petrucci, kinesiology; and undergraduate nutrition major Hannah Thompson.