“Hats” Helps Open Doors to Future Health Careers

Hats_AdamsBy Cassandra Sura

When Reginald “Hats” Adams, director of community affairs, joined Rush 45 years ago, diversity wasn’t a common term, and making an effort to maintain a culture of inclusion where everyone has equal access to opportunities was not a performance goal for all employees, as it is today. Nonetheless, Adams strived to promote diversity through his work and in his life, not because it was required, but simply because he felt it was the right thing to do.

In the 1980s, Adams saw there was a disparity in the science and math education that children were receiving in some areas of Chicago, including West Side neighborhoods around Rush. Since science and math are the core tenets of careers in health care, kids with limited education and exposure to those subjects have less of an opportunity to choose a health care profession. Working with the leadership at Rush, Adams initiated the Science and Math Education (SAME) Network, which engages children in these subjects at a young age by providing schools with training and equipment to improve how they teach science and math.

“He wanted to fill a void in the education of young people and prepare them for careers in the areas of math, science, technology and health care,” says Paula Brown, manager of Equal Opportunity Programs at Rush.

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‘How Accessibility Should Be’

Paula J. Brown

By Paula J. Brown

On Oct. 20, Rush University Medical Center celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Thonar Award Program. This program celebrates the achievements of people with disabilities who turn “a disability into a possibility,” or someone who helps people with disabilities to do the same. What a wonderful event! For 20 years we have highlighted the achievements of people who just want to be productive citizens like everybody else. They are cherished by someone who loves them, and this program is really the highlight of our year. It helps that is usually held in October, which is Disability Awareness Month.

It is hard to imagine what life was like before the ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act), passed on July 26, 1990. Many people with disabilities — or as I like to refer to them, people with “different” abilities — had a very difficult time being productive. No mandated assistance, no curb cuts, no accessible bathrooms, no accessible transportation. How could we value so little of the lives of so many? Finally, we as a nation got it. And now we are reaping the benefits of the talents and brilliance that people with “different” abilities bring to the table of life every day.

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