Meet the winners of the 2021 KITE - TD Scholarship for Students with Disabilities

Since 2005, The KITE Research Institute at Toronto Rehab, with TD Bank Group, has supported the active involvement of people with disabilities in rehabilitation-related research. 

Graduate students with disabilities often encounter financial barriers due in part to the high cost of adaptive aids, technologies and resources needed to enable their studies. Thanks to TD Bank, people with disabilities have had a better shot at becoming active participants in planning and conducting rehabilitation research. Meet this year’s scholarship recipients. 

Miracle Ozzoude, Master’s student
York University, Department of Psychology

Miracle is a first-year Master’s student in the Department of Psychology at York University (Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science) under the supervision of Dr. Lauren E. Sergio. Prior to graduate school, Miracle was a researcher at the Sunnybrook Research Institute and Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases where he studied brain and behavioural relationship in individuals with neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases and concussion. 

Miracle’s master’s project will build on the skills and knowledge he gained while working in clinical research to further understand the neural underpinning of cognitive-motor performance in working-aged adults with persistent Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS). This research is vital because PCS can have lasting effects on concussion survivors and it is associated with caregiver distress and burden. Furthermore, survivors might be faced with struggles in their daily activities that require the integration of thought and actions, such as driving and preparing a meal. 

The expected outcome of his research project would be to create diagnostic biomarkers to recognize and identify, early on, individuals that will develop PCS. Given the extended recovery period required after repeated concussions, these biomarkers will assist in creating targeted physical and cognitive rehabilitation therapies that will positively impact their recovery. 

As a researcher who has Spina bifida, winning this award means becoming an advocate for researchers with disabilities to overcome the lack of representation in the scientific community. Having experienced disability-related complications during his undergraduate studies, he was able to bounce back thanks to unconditional support from a web of healthcare providers, mentors, family and friends, counselling support, and campus accessibility services. This setback filled him with inspired commitment, heightened interest in clinical and rehabilitation-related work, and gave him conviction about his career path in clinical research. He aspires to be part of an interdisciplinary and translational research team committed to sharing knowledge, from the laboratory to clinical and rehabilitation settings, in order to positively impact the lives of patients, their caregivers, and other healthcare providers.

In addition to being a dedicated scholar, Miracle enjoys taking photographs (street and portrait), reading, and indoor rock climbing.

Anna Huynh, PhD candidate
Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, University of Toronto

Anna Huynh’s scholarship has been renewed for 2021-22.  The first year of her scholarship gave her an opportunity to pursue her studies, develop her skills, and give back to her local community. In this one year, she has made steady progress in her doctoral studies at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at University of Toronto. She presented her research on “The impact of bulbar and cognitive deficits on coping with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and navigating speech-language pathology services” at three conferences, internationally and nationally. Her research was highlighted as a finalist at the 2021 ALS Canada Research Forum. She was also involved in a second project that was presented in multiple conferences. She will submit the manuscript for both studies in early Fall.

In addition to research, she taught several classes to clinical students in the Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of Toronto. Finally, she has worked to promote rehabilitation science research through the rehabINK podcast, organized the 2021 RSI Research Day conference, spread stuttering awareness and understanding through the development of the Canadian Stuttering Association’s Let’s Talk Panel series, and established an international collaboration through to support students with developmental disabilities.

 Anna is grateful to the TD Bank Financial Group for their generous donation and continued investment in the future of students with disabilities.