Rhyanne McDade was born and raised in Lincoln Heights, Ohio. She is a first generation college student who has obtained her Masters of Science degree in Health Promotion and Education and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Health Education at the University of Cincinnati. She is a member of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, and Golden Key National Honor Society. Her research interests include social epidemiology and adolescent & minority health. Upon completion of her PhD program, Rhyanne plans to teach at the collegiate level and engage in community based research. Her long term goals include assisting in the development of supportive/permanent housing programs within the city of Cincinnati.
1. Please describe your activities during your fellowship experience. Describe your final capstone project(s).
While serving as the Diversity Fellow for UC UCEDD, I worked on several projects: 1) The Cultural and Linguistic Competency Assessment for Disability Organizations (CLCADO), 2.) Key informant interviews, and 3.) The Diversity Fellow Capstone. The CLCADO examines a wide array of constructs related to disability organizations' core functions. Subtopics include: Our World View, Who We Are, What We Do and How We Work. The assessment was administered to all UC UCEDD staff to identify strengths and potential areas of growth for the organization. As a result of assessment findings, additional measures were incorporated to enhance cultural inclusiveness within UC UCEDD. UC UCEDD also sought to gain perspective from key community members from minority populations. In-person interviews were conducted to identify ways in which UC UCEDD could expand Center's visibility and program reach. I also compiled a scholarly review of the literature around the dual diagnosis and the co-occurrence of psychiatric and developmental disabilities in minority populations. This capstone will serve as a teaching tool for all UCEDD faculty and staff to further their cultural competence in this area. Throughout the fellowship apparent themes were community outreach and deliberate actions taken to further relationships between community partners and the UC UCEDD community.
2. Who did your project inform, help, influence or impact? (UCEDD, individual, community, state) How?
Administering the CLCADO assisted UC UCEDD in identifying the Center’s strengths and potential areas of improvement. The CLCADO also enabled UC UCEDD to identify new culturally competent practices that helped to better incorporate individuals from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. The Key Informant Interviews enabled UC UCEDD to obtain a community perspective on how the Center’s information was disseminated to surrounding communities. The Capstone Project provided salient information on a topic area that is currently under-researched within the disability field. Furthermore, findings from this project can assist clinicians and health educators alike on effective treatment programs for this population. Community outreach informed pivotal community partners on the existence of UCEDD’s across the nation and how locals UCEDDs (UC UCEDD) can be viable community resources in combating social, financial and educational injustices within the disability population.
3. Why did you choose to work on that project(s)?
UC UCEDD outlined several project endeavors that coincided with the Center’s vision: “ …Children and adults and their families living with disabilities fully participate in society and live healthy, safe, self-determined and productive lives.” Each of the three projects completed during the fellowship contributed to UC UCEDD’s vision. With regards to the capstone project, I felt very strongly about the disassociation of mental illness from the umbrella term “developmental disability.” The examination of dual diagnosis was a way in which both mental and intellectual disabilities could be addressed. Individuals with intellectual disabilities are more likely to have a co-occurring mental illness in comparison to the general population. This project helps shed light on this unique population.
4. What did you gain from being a Diversity Fellow?
During my time as a Diversity Fellow, I have attained an immeasurable amount of character enriching virtues: understanding, hindsight into past situations, forgiveness, compassion and humility. I have learned that disenfranchised populations are not just limited to ethnic and racial minorities, although current and past social justices plaguing these populations is not to be overlooked and/or taken lightly. I have also come to understand that persons with disabilities make up the largest minority group within the US, and that adverse health outcomes are further compounded for minorities with disabilities.
5. How will this experience impact your education or career decisions?
In terms of my education and career decisions, this fellowship experience has afforded me the opportunity to further grow my research interests. In addition to examining adverse health outcomes and risky behaviors in minority populations; my research has now expanded to include adverse health outcomes associated with disabled populations. As a result of my Diversity Fellowship, I was able to transition into the 2016-2017 LEND training program. The knowledge gained from both programs has fueled a passion in me to learn how to effectively advocate on the state and national level for legislature that positively impacts social change for all disenfranchised populations.
6. What are your future goals? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
My future goals consist of so many possibilities, that it is almost impossible for me to put it all into words. Simply put, I see myself as a Beacon of Light for a generation that is still yet wondering and seeking answers to unrequited questions. I see myself as a mentor, counselor, educator, teacher, advocate, and global resource.
7. What recommendations do you have for other fellows?
My number one recommendation for current and future fellows is always to remember to keep an open mind. Allow God to move you in the direction that he wants you to go. The road may not always be easy, but it is well worth it in the end. And to know that life has many ends and beginnings. When one journey comes to a close, another is just beginning.