The Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities (MCDD) welcomed a number of trainees over the summer. Read more about them below.
Molly Case is a senior at the University of Virginia, majoring in global public health and Spanish and minoring in psychology. She is particularly interested in a career advocating for health equity and human rights, and has spent much of her college career volunteering and interning for various nonprofit organizations. She has been greatly inspired by her cousin, who was born with cerebral palsy, to learn more about individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and how they can be better supported—both within and outside the health sector. Through her internship with Project HEAL (Health, Education, Advocacy, and Law), she enjoyed learning more about the legal side of public health, and she explored potential career paths for the future.
Andrea Garrido is a junior at The Johns Hopkins University majoring in public health and Spanish. She developed an interest in working with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities during her volunteer experiences in equine therapy. During her time at the MCDD, she learned about effectively translating research into practice and advocating for individuals with disabilities, in addition to building on her experiences in public health and community work. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend medical school, where she can continue to work with and advocate for underserved populations, including people with disabilities and their families.
Cheryl Hansen is a senior at the University of Maryland, College Park, majoring in psychology and Spanish and minoring in nonprofit leadership and social innovation. She developed an interest in working with individuals with disabilities through her involvement in an organization that supports and creates opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. During her time at the MCDD, she gained a better understanding of how to make health resources more accessible to people with disabilities, and how to be a better advocate for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After completing her bachelor’s degree, she hopes to go into education, where she can continue to work with people with disabilities and underrepresented populations.
Alexis Lovings is a second-year student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in public health from the University of North Florida. She recently developed an interest in advocating for children of families with intellectual and developmental disabilities while exploring the field of public health. She noticed there was an overwhelming need to assist families through the complexities of the law to ensure their children receive the appropriate legal, medical and educational services required for them to thrive. During her time working with Project HEAL, she gained a better understanding of the function of law and how influential it can be in enhancing the lives of local families. After graduation, she plans to continue advocating for marginalized communities while working to expand pertinent services to more families across the state.
Dawn Pfluger, BSN, RN, CPN, CWCN, is a legal studies student at the Community College of Baltimore County. She is in the process of completing her education for a paralegal certificate. She has a BSN and has been working in the healthcare field for more than 25 years. She is also a registered nurse who specializes in pediatric patients with disabilities, and has worked on the inpatient unit at Kennedy Krieger Institute since 2004. She is a certified pediatric nurse (CPN) and certified wound care nurse (CWCN), and is planning to take certification exams to become a certified rehabilitation registered nurse (CRRN) and certified Developmental Disabilities Nurse (CDDN) in 2021, in furtherance of her knowledge as a legal nurse consultant and nurse paralegal with a specialty in pediatrics, rehabilitation and disabilities. She gained additional medical-legal knowledge as a Project HEAL trainee to better advocate for her inpatient population and their families, in addition to those in the local community who may need a legal nurse consultant to assist with legal matters that include a medical element to their cases.
Vineet Sidhu is a Master of Health Science (MHS) student with a concentration in mental health, and a Wendy Klag Center scholar at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is an international medical field graduate with an interest in child and adolescent psychiatry. She earned her Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree in India. She developed an interest in intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health during her interactions with patients and their families as a medical student. During her time at the MCDD, she explored the role of culture in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders, and best practices for engaging with culturally diverse populations. After graduation, she plans to pursue a residency in psychiatry, where she can continue to work with and advocate for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities and other related mental health disorders.