2018-2019 CT LEND Trainees & Projects

Pamela Achuka

Pamela Achuka: My name is Pamela Achuka and I am a fourth year Audiology student. During my undergraduate stay at UCONN, I took an interest in Child Development and Deaf culture. I hope to one day open a private practice that is inclusive and supportive of children and their families. It is my hope that LEND will provide me with the skills I need to be a leader in my community as an advocate for others as well as a guide and safe space for those undergo the diagnostic process.

Penni Petzold and Leona Adamczyk presenting

Leona Adamczyk and Penni Petzold: Leadership Training for Parents by PTIs

Elizabeth Asal

Elisabeth Asal: Elizabeth is a second-year Master’s student in the UConn School Psychology program. She received her B.A. in psychology and sociology from Mount Holyoke College in 2017. During her undergraduate career, she held a number of positions working with children and families in settings such as a preschool and a developmental/social psychology research lab. Since joining UConn, Elizabeth has become an academic mentor for at-risk undergraduate student-athletes, and has greatly enjoyed her practica experiences in Connecticut public schools. Upon completion of the School Psychology program, Elizabeth looks forward to working as a practitioner in the field.

Karen Bassilakis

Karen Bassilakis: Karen is a second-year graduate student in UConn’s Speech- Language Pathology Master’s Degree Program. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, along with minors in Psychology and Rehabilitation & Disability Studies from Springfield College in 2017. During both her undergraduate and graduate careers Karen has gained experience working with children and adults with disabilities in a variety of settings. Through these experiences she has developed interests in literacy and alternative and augmentative communication. Karen is eager to learn and grow as a future speech-language pathologist through the LEND program.

Service Delivery Models of School Based Speech Language Pathologists in Connecticut

Nashka Carrion: As a social work graduate student, I hope to implement what I learn throughout this LEND fellowship in my field and provide competent services to families and children with disabilities. The acquired leadership skills and knowledge on neurodevelopmental disabilities will help me to understand more about special healthcare needs. This is a great opportunity to gain a more holistic experience as a trainee and to be able to advocate for this population.

Alexandra Cascio

Alexandra Cascio: My name is Alexandra Cascio. I am a second year graduate student in UConn’s School Psychology program. In my free time, I enjoy running, jet skiing, playing soccer, singing, spending time with friends, or playing with my adorable puppy! My research interests include emotional well-being, exercise health and academic achievement, grief, social comparison, anger management, augmented and alternative communication, and teacher burnout. I am looking forward to my experience with LEND as I have currently been involved in various research projects focusing on SEB needs and services for students at school and I have also been researching how to improve social and emotional climate and behavioral supports for students. During my practicum experience last Spring I was able to co-facilitate a group for students with Autism and I enjoyed working with and learning from each of them as they each brought their own unique experiences and stories to share during our group meetings. From this experience, I hope to improve in my ability to advocate for students with diverse learning needs as well as increase my knowledge around how to best provide family-centered care as a school psychologist and citizen in my own community.

Carolina Clark

Carolina Clark: Carolina is in her first year of the PhD program in Social Work at the University of Connecticut. While in her Masters program at UConn, Carolina started her career in the clinical setting working with children and families. Her passion for very young children has only grown through her professional experience. Carolina has also worked in a Pediatric Primary Care clinic for three years as their Social Worker and Behavioral Health Consultant. During that time, she learned the degree of interconnectedness between mental/social and physical health as well as the importance of interdisciplinary work in the care of children. In her year with the LEND program, Carolina hopes to deepen her understanding around working with neuro atypical children and their families, and to raise awareness around the impact of social determinants on children’s development.

Khadijah Cyril

Khadijah Cyril: My name is Khadijah Cyril and I am a fourth year Ph.D. student in School Psychology at the University of Rhode Island. My research interest includes education disparities, nonviolence, social justice activism, and cultural competency. My clinical interests are enhancing the lives of individuals impacted by neurodevelopmental disabilities, increasing emotional intelligence, preventing and intervening in mental illness, and providing consultation. I am excited to be a part of LEND and I know the information learn will enhance my current understanding of neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Trends of Implicit Biases about Disabilities among College Students Over the Past Few Years

Mike Duff presenting

Mike Duff: Social Inclusion

Michael Figueiredo

Michael Figueiredo: Michael is a third-year student in UConn’s Doctor of Audiology program. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences, with minor in American Sign Language and Deaf Studies from UConn. Michael’s clinical experiences include working as a graduate student clinician at CREC Soundbridge, Boston Children’s Hospital and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. He has worked in a research lab for the past four years with a focus on the neurological processing of sound in individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Michael is excited to be awarded the LEND Fellowship as it will help him become a more knowledgeable Audiologist.

Training and Confidence Levels of Interdisciplinary Professional Practice in the Northeast Region of the United States in Providing Information to Mothers about Congenital Cytomegalovirus

Joanne Hayes

Joanne Hayes: Joanne is in her fourth year of a PhD program at UConn. Before this undertaking, she was a Special Education teacher working with adolescent, adjudicated girls at a residential facility here in Connecticut. Her educational focus is in improving the reading skills of adolescents who still struggle to read at grade level. She has joined LEND to gain experience working with families and professionals supporting other disabilities with a focus on autism and dyslexia. When she has completed her PhD, she anticipates becoming a teacher of Special Education teachers with a wider sensitivity to all disabilities which affect academic outcomes.

Shevonn Johnson

Shevonn Johnson: Bio info and link to project

Heather Kwolek

Heather Kwolek: Heather Kwolek is a LEND Long-Term Trainee. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania before pursuing graduate education in School Psychology at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. Her focus is on ensuring that individuals with disabilities and their families are able to fully participate in all educational settings, and that appropriate educational modifications and interventions are provided when beneficial or necessary.

Emergency Responders’ Training in Working with Individuals with Disabilities

Michelle Levine

Michelle Levine: Michelle is a second-year doctoral student in the school psychology program at UConn. Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts from University of Rochester and Masters of Education in School Psychology at Teachers College at Columbia University. Michelle served as a school psychologist in an elementary school for two years before coming to UConn to pursue her doctorate. Her research interests include pursuing interventions for children educationally classified as emotionally disturbed.

Educational Assessment and Identification Procedures to Classify Students as Emotionally Disturbed in the State of Connecticut

Erica Scarpati

Erica Scarpati: Erica is in her second year of the Clinical Doctorate of Audiology program at UConn. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Language and Hearing Sciences with a double major in Psychology from UConn in 2017. During her undergraduate years, Erica worked in two different research labs. In a child developmental psychology lab at UConn, she investigated the perceptional basis of emotion in music and animations in children. Erica is also part of the Auditory Brain Research Lab facilitating electrophysiological research on auditory processing in dancers at UConn. Erica currently serves as Vice President of UConn’s Student Academy of Audiology chapter. She has volunteered with the Connecticut Special Olympics and is passionate to become an advocate for children with disabilities and their families. Erica is excited to learn and grow through the LEND Program both as an individual and as a future pediatric audiologist.

Early Intervention Specialty Programs in the United States for Children with Hearing Loss and Co-Occurring Disabilities

Paige Schwartz

Paige Schwartz: Paige is a recent Psychology graduate from the University of Connecticut. Her research in the NICU at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center proved to her the importance of evidence based practice. She also served as a Corps Member for the preschool education program called Jumpstart. She is now a research assistant in a cardiovascular health study at UConn and is pursuing Nursing with a special interest in developmental disability care.

Natalie Silva

Natalie Silvia: I am currently a third year graduate student at the University of Connecticut pursuing my Doctor of Audiology. My passion for Audiology began while studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. I had the privilege of interning at a center designed for children with hearing impairment and additional disabilities. The center takes an interdisciplinary approach while being family centered, two things that have shaped my ultimate long-term goal of opening a similar center in the United States. As a pediatric audiology LEND trainee, I am dedicated to gaining more knowledge and experience that will guide what a center like this should truly be comprised of. I am excited for this opportunity, as I will be able to use my passion for working with children and adolescents with disabilities, and their families, and become a more diverse and knowledgeable pediatric audiologist.

Training and Confidence Levels of Interdisciplinary Professional Practice in the Northeast Region of the United States in Providing Information to Mothers about Congenital Cytomegalovirus

Danielle Stern

Danielle Stern: Danielle Ungar Stern is completing her Masters and Sixth-Year Certificate in School Psychology at the University of Connecticut. With a background in Counseling Psychology and a license in Marital and Family Therapy, Danielle has a worked as a mental health therapist with children, young adults, and families. She has worked in schools and community mental health settings. Danielle’s passion for both psychology and education ultimately led her to her current path in school psychology. As a school psychologist, Danielle’s goal is to help students identify and achieve their goals so that they can lead joyful lives. As a LEND Fellow, Danielle is committed to growing as a responsible educator and an effective advocate for students and families with disabilities. She is deeply aligned with LEND’s commitment to strength-based and family-centered support. Danielle is extremely grateful and excited for her year ahead as a LEND fellow.

Parent Perspective On Involvement And Training At Planning And Placement Team Meetings

Taylor Tarka

Taylor Tarka: Taylor is in her second year of the MA program in Speech Language Pathology at UConn. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Language and Hearing Sciences, along with a minor in Psychology from UConn in 2017. In her undergraduate career, Taylor helped conduct and analyze research in the Child Language Development and Disorders Laboratory assessing children with specific language impairment. As a graduate student, her clinical experiences include interning at the UConn Speech and Hearing Clinic and Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital providing individualized treatment to patients with expressive and receptive language disorders, autism spectrum disorder, aphasia, voice disorders and cognitive communication disorders. Through the LEND program, Taylor is excited to learn how to better serve her future patients and advocate for adults and children with disabilities.

Confidence Levels of Recent Graduates in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology in Providing Assessment and Intervention for School-aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Loren Thompson

Loren Thompson: My name is Loren Brittney Thompson. This is my second and final year in the Educational Psychology Special Education Program at University of Connecticut, while also finishing up my Army ROTC commitment. I am the second born of five girls in my family. I grew up in Windsor, Connecticut, studied undergrad at the University of Hartford, and then enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 2014. I am twenty-five years old and I have been teaching Special Education for three years ranging from Kindergarten through 8th grade. I am participating in the CT LEND Program this year to grow my knowledge and acquire skills in efforts to be the best special education teacher that I can be but to also help my students and their families with diverse approaches.

Perceived Confidence from Participation in the Connecticut LEND Program

Yair Voliovitch

Yair Voliovitch: Yair is a first-year fellow at Yale University’s Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics program. He graduated from Semmelweis University Medical School at Budapest , Hungary and went on to complete Pediatrics Residency Dana Hospital for Children, Tel-Aviv “Sourasky” Medical Center, Tel-Aviv, Israel. During his time in residency, he became interested in taking care of children with developmental delays. With these past experiences as a guide, he is currently training on the evaluation and medical care of children with autism, neurodevelopmental disabilities, and genetic syndromes. His hope is to use the lessons learned at LEND and apply them to his clinical work.

Parent Stress Prior To An Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Evaluation: A DBPNet Study

Elena Woodard

Elena Woodard: Elena is in her second and final year of the UConn School of Social Work Master’s Program with a concentration in Individuals, Groups, and Families. She has worked in a number of high school and middle schools for the past three years, both as a social work intern and a Positive Youth Development Worker. In addition to LEND, this year she is in a residential setting for mothers who struggle with substance use. Based on her past experiences, she is interested in a career in social work that addresses the intersections of disabilities and substance use, mental health, race, and socioeconomic status.

Mothers and Substance Use Services