Marion HaaseBorn in Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Houston, music has always been a part of Marión Hasse’s life. In fact, everyone in her family is closely connected to the arts. So it was no surprise when she received her undergrad and graduate degrees in music therapy and became a board-certified Neurologic Music Therapist.

“My upbringing also involved understanding the importance of helping others when they are in need,” said Haase. “Music therapy unites both of those aspects of my life.”

During her research for her master’s, she corresponded with UAB Physical Therapy faculty member Matt Ford, PT, Ph.D., whose research involves the use of music for individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

“Research in Neurologic Music Therapy has shown improvements in walking when participants with Parkinson’s disease partake in long-term training with specific music tailored to their walking needs,” said Haase. “The motor aspects of speech (rate of speech, articulation, use of the diaphragm) are also addressed in NMT through specific singing and wind instrument exercises. Other motor and cognitive abilities can be exercised by playing instruments, exercising with specific types of live music, and more.”

She realized she wanted to continue with her research. That led her to the newly created PhD in Rehabilitation Science program housed jointly in the Departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy.

“This program provides me with the tools to engage in research regarding those questions and ideas that are in need of scientific quantification and understanding in regards to Neurologic Music Therapy and Parkinson’s Rehabilitation,” said Haase. “I believe research is the best avenue for me to combine my professional and personal experiences to enhance the use of music in therapy.”

Program Director David Brown, PT, Ph.D., said he didn’t want the traditional doctoral program that molds the person into what the program wants them to be. Instead, the candidates have the opportunity to actualize their own goals, which is what drew Haase to the program.

“The Rehabilitation Science program is a unique research program,” said Haase. “It provides an environment in which music therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, and other related disciplines partake in the collaborative effort toward refining the science of rehabilitation.”

Haase continues to practice as a Neurologic Music Therapist part-time, but her main goal is to engage in clinical research to help legitimize the field of NMT.

“I hope to continue developing effective Neurologic Music Therapy applications, both requiring strong quantitative evidence as well as a strong relationship with other disciplines,” said Haase.

Jesse Pace-DIIt was the summer of Jesse Pace’s sophomore year when she met a child with cystic fibrosis that would leave a huge impact on her.

“I learned more about the disease and how nutrition played such a role in his life,” says Pace. “By the end of the summer, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to work with pediatric cystic fibrosis patients.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree in Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion with a concentration in Food and Nutrition at Mississippi State University, Pace enrolled in the Dietetics Internship at UAB.  

“As a student at UAB, I could experience the atmosphere of a teaching hospital that offers a variety of dietetic challenges,” says Pace.

She also saw the opportunity to learn in a vast field of dietetics from medical nutrition therapy at UAB Hospital, culinary arts education at the local high school, public health with the health department, as well as pediatric nutrition at Children’s of Alabama.

“I learn the ins and outs of each area, and how to practice in the area,” says Pace. “Each week or two is a new rotation and new experiences. It is a fast paced internship with change each week, but I have enjoyed learning from wonderful preceptors and professors.”

Pace is making a name for herself serving as a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics House of Delegates and Student Advisory Committee. She is the Student-at-Large delegate and represents every student member of the Academy. She also serves as a member of the Student Advisory Committee, a group of eight students from around the country who work to represent student interests in the Academy and serve as liaisons.

“It has opened so many doors and allowed me to learn so much about the field of dietetics,” says Pace. “I wanted to not only serve the student members of the Academy, but also because I wanted the opportunity to learn about the field of dietetics from the front line. As a delegate, I am able to contribute to decisions that will affect the Academy now and in the future.”

Pace graduates from the Dietetic Internship in June 2013 and will earn a graduate degree in May 2014. She hopes to be a clinical dietitian possibly working with pediatric patients.

“I chose nutrition because I wanted to help people, and food is important in everyone's lives especially in the South,” says Pace. “What better way to help people than by helping them with something they do every day, eat.”

Jake GillilandJake Gilliland was playing high school football in Addison, Ala. when he tore the Ulnar Collateral Ligament on his left thumb. That resulted in reconstructive surgery with the doctor harvesting part of a flexor tendon in his wrist to repair it. He was sent to an outpatient rehab at UAB when he met an Occupational Therapist who was also a Certified Hand Therapist.

“He was great and taught me about the different splinting materials that can be used for different conditions,” said Gilliland. “He was also the first to explain to me the details about my surgery.”

That encounter led him to inquire more about occupational therapy.

“I loved the broad range of possibilities,” said Gilliland. “I am the type of person that likes variety, spontaneity and creativity. OT allows me to be myself while helping others. It’s perfect.”

Before entering the occupational therapy program at UAB, Gilliland received a bachelor’s degree in Education with an emphasis on health and physical education.

“OT has a strong education component to it so a degree in health and physical education has been extremely helpful for everything we have done so far,” said Gilliland.

Pursuing a degree in a female-dominated profession didn’t deter Gilliland either.

“I thought being a minority would offer me more possibilities since there is a huge push for diversity in the workforce right now,” said Gilliland.

After graduation in 2013, he plans to eventually open his own clinic and couple his love for therapy with baseball which Gilliland says goes hand in hand.

”When looking at OT from a rehabilitative frame of reference, we are more familiar with the shoulder, elbow, forearm, wrist and hand,” said Gilliland. “Considering that throwing a baseball is not a natural motion, most of the injuries are in the upper extremities, which makes it an area where we can provide a great deal of services.”

ReinaAfiouniIt was inevitable that Reina Afiouni of Tripoli, Lebanon would end up in a health care profession. She grew up in a family of healthcare providers: grandfather was a pharmacist, father is a doctor and her sister is a dentist. She earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy from a prominent university in Lebanon in 2009 and worked for several years. But she set her sight on another health care degree.

“I set myself a goal to receive a Clinical Laboratory Science degree from a well-known university to allow me to be a director of a clinical laboratory to better serve my community,” said Afiouni.

She didn’t have to go too far to ask for advice for the best school in the U.S. Her husband, Taha Ghannoum, recently graduated from the Master’s of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science program.

“After doing some research I realized that UAB School of Health Professions is one of the most important and prominent health profession schools in the country,” said Afiouni. “I decided then to get enrolled as a graduate student. After getting accepted, I knew that a great opportunity had opened up for me.”

Afiouni is not only living in a foreign country, but English is her third language and she’s balancing school with a 16-month-old daughter.

“It was a great challenge to leave my family and friends behind and come to the US, but it was a great opportunity to pursue my studies overseas and succeed in such an elaborate curriculum,” said Afiouni.

After she graduates in summer 2013, she said she’s not finished with school yet. She plans to get further advanced degrees in the different fields of Clinical Laboratory Science and hopes to work at a prominent clinical laboratory site in the U.S. Her long-term plan is to take all that knowledge back home to Lebanon.

“My husband and I dream of opening our own clinical laboratory site to better serve the patients of our community,” said Afiouni.

Barbara GuerardAs vice president of health services for Peoples Health Inc, a Medicare Advantage Plan in Louisiana, not even a little thing called Hurricane Isaac could keep Barbara Guerard of New Orleans from her studies.

“Work was significantly disrupted during the week of Isaac with much coordination needing to take place to keep our members safe,” said Guerard. “Luckily, my internet stayed operational so I did manage to get a bit of school work done.”

Guerard is in the executive doctoral administration-health services program which allows her to continue to work full-time while furthering her education. Her job responsibilities include administrative oversight for the medical management programs and development of new clinical initiatives designed to improve member outcomes. Continuing to work and going to school has allowed her to put her learning immediately to use in her current position.

“It has allowed me to bring a rigor to strategic decisions, develop a research mindset for the organization and has stimulated others to continue their education,” said Guerard. “While the time balance is a bit more rigorous in the doctoral program, my family and employer support has been tremendous.”

With 30 years of health care experience, Guerard’s career has evolved over the years. She spent 25 years as a nurse practitioner before moving into the administrative side. She earned a MBA while working and now sees potential opportunities once she earns her doctoral degree in December 2013.

“This degree will allow me to expand my options in the future and continue my lifelong learning,” said Guerard. “I will be able to continue to do research, or I may possibly teach at some level in the future.”

In a family with 12 siblings, Guerard has been able to tackle anything put before her.

“Stay focused, organized and enjoy the education experience,” said Guerard.