A $100,000 donation from Anthem Blue Cross to The Longmore Institute on Disability has established a new scholarship fund to support education-related expenses for students with disabilities who have committed to future healthcare work, whether as direct healthcare practitioners or working in the field of health justice. This initiative is part of Anthem’s broader commitment to address California’s healthcare worker shortage and to close the gap in health disparities across the state.
At the center of the Longmore Institute's work is an effort to challenge implicit bias, as too often people’s disabilities are assumed to signal only a deficit and a pathological problem to be cured. Both the field of disability studies and the disability rights and justice movements have repeatedly called out the medical profession as a central site in which negative assumptions of disability grow and spread. Supporting Anthem’s important vision to see more disabled people in healthcare and medicine will have a profound impact to help overturn implicit bias from the inside, while creating new opportunities for students who would not otherwise be able to afford the costs of education.
Director of the Longmore Institute, Catherine Kudlick, shared, “As future health-care providers, SF State students are the perfect ones to change thinking and conversations right where it matters most: at the core of our healthcare system. Imagine a world where doctors and other health workers believed living with a disability brought a valuable new perspective for everyone?”
Meet the ten students below who were selected to each receive $10,000 this fall and spring to support their important interventions into their fields!
While growing up, Omar Breedlove chose to involve himself with the wrong people, which led him to make other harmful choices. Having gone through a spiritual transformation, Omar has overcome incarceration, homelessness, and addiction to become a Bachelor of Social Work student at San Francisco State University. Omar now uses his life experience to help others and address some of society’s most challenging issues.
While maintaining a 3.80 GPA, Omar works on the Street Crisis Response Team that responds to 911 mental health calls in the community. He is also a member of the Excell Network, a restorative justice program sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco. As part of his giving back to the community, Omar volunteers for an older person with a disability. He has made the Dean’s list twice and continues to grow on his educational journey.
After completing his BASW, Omar plans to earn a Master’s degree in Social Work. He believes that he can positively benefit others with his education and life experience as he strives to add to their healing and wellness.
Angela Evenich (she/her) is a first-year graduate student in the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences program here at SF State. During her time as an undergraduate at CSU Sacramento, she advocated for disability visibility and acceptance throughout the campus community. She delivered several presentations on the meaning of disability and ableism, wrote two nationally published articles related to her perspectives as a disabled person with cerebral palsy, and facilitated student-led focus groups on disability identity and its role in the university's antiracism and inclusive campus plan. She continues to be involved in disability advocacy efforts through collaboration with various organizations and other disabled people.
During her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring new places, and trying new coffee shops! One of her favorite memories is going to Half Moon Bay and having a picnic on the beach with some of her closest friends. Being born in the Bay Area, she always feels at home and her happiest when she’s there.
Nam Him is a senior at SFSU and a disabled USMC veteran. He is double majoring in Biochemistry / Biology: Concentration in Physiology and minoring in math with aspirations to become a physician. He is a first-generation Asian American straight cis male of mixed Asian heritage. Nam is Vietnamese, Cambodian, Lao and Chinese. He comes from a socially disadvantaged background and is a son of refugee parents of the Vietnam War and Cambodian genocide.
Growing up in the Sacramento area, he and his family struggled to fit in. His parents’ trauma from surviving a war and genocide made it difficult for them to help steer their children’s lives in America. Nam found stability and navigation during his time in the military. After his service, he went to college but didn’t find his passion and goals until a health crisis.
When transitioning from active service to a traditional student, he became lost and was depressed. He developed some physical injuries that affected his physical and mental well-being. Fortunately, he was able to find help at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. After some psychiatry visits and physical therapy, slowly he rebuilt himself back up. The medical staff helped sparked his interest to become a physician.
During his search for care, communication and transparency stood out. It is vital to easily communicate with your doctor and care team. Feeling listened to and understood helped put him at ease. He began to understand how to better communicate with his two autistic brothers. He reflected on witnessing them be misunderstood and tormented because of their autism. He didn’t have the skills or patience to advocate for them, but he has grown and is now better equipped.
His own diagnosis of ADHD has opened his eyes to a different way of thinking. The stigma behind being disabled shouldn’t prevent anyone from seeking help. Being different doesn’t mean you can’t continue to live a normal life. Having a disability doesn't mean that you are a person of lesser value. With this insight, he hopes to find ways to make communication easier for those with disabilities. He hopes his experience can help him better relate to and bring more transparency to disabled people within the healthcare industry.
Philip Jones is a Master’s in Social Work student at San Francisco State University. Professionally, he works for the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission and is also a graduate intern with San Francisco Jail Behavioral Health Services.
Philip’s biggest passion in life is uplifting those in communities of color who have experienced the same hardships he experienced as a young adult. His professional and personal life are centered around service and equipping people with the tools they need to succeed. In his current role working with the Oakland Youth Advisory Commission, he works in collaboration with youth invested in social justice issues, uplifting their voice, and supporting them as they advise and contribute to important projects and decisions in our local government and community. In his first year internship with San Francisco Jail Behavioral Health Services, he works with young adults experiencing homelessness, disabilities, substance use disorder, as well as trauma while navigating the criminal justice system. He is on the Board of Directors for San Francisco Pretrial Diversion Project, a Bay Area-based non-profit that aims to facilitate positive and effective alternatives to fines, criminal prosecution, and detention. He also holds a seat on San Francisco’s City and County Mental Health SF Implementation Working Group overseeing programs, policies, and projects affecting the San Francisco mental health services system of care. In his second-year graduate internship, he will be working in San Francisco’s Zuckerberg General Hospital Inpatient Neurology Department prioritizing care for patients with disabilities and other mild to severe neurological impairments. In the future, he will continue to protect and honor the needs of his community and utilize his career to improve the efficacy of services and systems of care within it and beyond.
Oleander Redmond (they/them, he/him) is a graduate of Berkeley City College’s biotechnology A.S. program and currently attends San Francisco State University as a microbiology major/chemistry minor. They plan to attend graduate school to study infectious diseases and epidemiology after receiving their degree from SFSU.
They discovered their passion for microbiology and public health while working in a lab testing medical cannabis products for pathogenic microbes such as E. coli and S. enterica. Oleander is a nonbinary disabled person who identifies as chronically ill, and they hope to bring their unique perspective to future public health work.
Hi, I’m Bernadette, I am a first-generation college student and currently a nursing student at SFSU. I have overcome and achieved so much in my education, I am doing things I never thought I would be able to do.
I am motivated in attaining a nursing degree from the San Francisco State University School of nursing to become well versed to meet the needs of diverse individuals, families, and our underrepresented community.
I am committed to my professional development and my educational endeavors in my education will have a huge positive influence on my healthcare contributions allowing me to have a positive impact and effect on patients' health outcomes. After years of physical rehabilitation, I enjoy the outdoors and spend time within the community. I am dependable, loyal, responsible, and enjoy volunteering.
Mia Shackelford is a nursing student pursuing a combined BSN/MSN through San Francisco State University’s accelerated entry-level master in nursing (ELMA) program.
Mia is particularly interested in reproductive and community health specialties and completed her senior preceptorship in the postpartum unit at John Muir Walnut Creek Medical Center. Mia is passionate about empowering people to live meaningful and happy lives through accessible, affordable, high-quality healthcare. Prior to beginning her nursing education, Mia worked as an analyst at McKinsey & Co., helping healthcare organizations achieve their strategic and operational goals.
She is most proud of her work supporting public health officials with testing strategy and analytics during the COVID-19 pandemic. While at McKinsey, Mia served as one of the leaders of the firm’s global affinity group for employees with disabilities, doubling membership through a multi-continent awareness campaign. Mia graduated summa cum laude from Scripps College with a B.A. in Mathematical Economics. She was born and raised in San Francisco and now lives in Berkeley with her partner, Rudy.
Robert is a biracial son of blue-collar parents who came to the west coast to find more open-minded communities than their hometowns. They didn’t let society get in the way of their love and they had Robert and his brother, Andrew. This bicultural background gave him an insight into life and the nuanced code-switching cultures he navigates.
Robert began his professional path in health care by getting a job as a Residential Counselor with Larkin Street Youth Services. He started in SF’s Tenderloin at the Lark-Inn, Emergency Shelter. Here he had first contact with 100’s in need youth providing food, hygiene resources, and 40 beds. It’s here where he would really grow professionally and realize this was more job and could be a career.
However, Robert’s life’s journey was irreversibly thrown off course in 2012 when almost died in a house fire in San Francisco’s Mission District. He suffered 3rd-degree burns across 75% of his body. Jumping out of bed and bolting out of the room he started running down the hall to escape.
The Burn Survivor community is amazingly supportive and they lead him to volunteer to work as a group facilitator in 2014 with new survivors. Both with the Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors and the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation; where he continues to help new families with what to expect when they discharge from the Burn Unit into home care.
So returning to college he got his AA in History and Education from CCSF and transferred to SFSU where he graduated in 2021 with a BA in History and a Minor in Africana. The path to being a counselor now brings him to SFSU’s Grad Dept of Counseling. His next phase now has him preparing for his journey for his Master's in Science as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor (CMHC) with the academic and professional goals of becoming a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).
Iyah Turminini (she/her) is a graduate student in the Masters in Counseling program at San Francisco State University, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with honors with dual degrees in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Studies. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Iyah fell in love with activism and the power of collective action, and that has translated into a deeply-rooted passion for social justice, anti-racism, and abolitionism. Since graduating from Cal, Iyah has held positions in Big Tech and has over half a decade of experience in civil law as a paralegal. She previously interned with COOP Careers, where she focused primarily on working with first-generation and immigrant young adults who are navigating imposter syndrome, acculturative stressors, and various realms of trauma. In the 2022-2023 academic year, Iyah is excited to be interning at Longfellow in Berkeley, a historically under-resourced middle school with a vibrant and diverse student population.
Iyah identifies as a queer, neurodiverse SWANA (Southwest Asian North African) woman, devoted practitioner of liberatory psychology and healing, and war survivor. She gets fired up about battling apathy, injustice, and oppression as a fierce accomplice, advocate, and activist committed to promoting compassion, equity, and sustainable community building and change. Iyah's mental health praxis is grounded in trauma-informed, intersectional, disability justice, and decolonial healing principles. In the future, she hopes to work with folks facing a wide spectrum of challenges from a variety of backgrounds, but is particularly interested in working with racialized minority women and femmes experiencing anxiety, acculturation-related stress, ADHD and other neurodiversities, and trauma.
Bayley Van is a disabled student, educator, disability advocate, and interdisciplinary artist born and raised in San Francisco. She is pursuing a Masters in Special Education at San Francisco State University and is seeking to pursue a Ph.D. in medical anthropology. Her academic work is centered around health and medical justice, the impact of capitalism on medicine, and disabled liberation. Her creative work focuses on disability, emotional intimacy, and the magic in the small things She has been previously published in Synchronized Chaos, Umlaut, Em, Aryis, Calamus Journal, Inklette Magazine, and Golden Walkman Magazine. Her chapbook, Intimacy, and Isolation in the age of Coronavirus, was published in 2020 by Brown Recluse.