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Conversations on COVID Returns- Friday, February 19, 2-3p.

Contributed by Stewart Auyash on 02/18/21 

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The School of Health Sciences and Human Performance is pleased to announce that the Spring 2021 edition of Conversation on COVID will commence on Friday, February 19 from 2-3pm.   These events provides opportunities to hear from Ithaca College faculty, staff, and alumni who will share their insights and experiences

The guests for this event will be Melodie Kolmetz of the Physician Assistant Program, Jenna Heffron and Joe Ungco of the Department of Occupational Therapy.

Continuing in the Spring ‘21 semester and programmed every few weeks, Conversations on COVID is a one-hour event. It features an interview with featured guests followed by Q & A with our audience. You can join this meeting using this link.

The pandemic constitutes a historic moment for students enrolled in health degrees. They can study the current disruptions and begin to rethink how to challenge the health status quo in order to produce more equality in the health system and to reduce systematic racism in health institutions and practices.

The COVID pandemic exposes in full view enormous health disparities and inequalities during a time of global protests for racial justice.  It has also provoked questions about the preparedness of our public health and medical care systems

Conversations on COVID is open to all Ithaca College faculty, staff, students, and alumni as well as community members.

More information on the guests for this week:

Jenna Heffron, PhD,  Dr. Jenna Heffron is a first-generation college graduate and disabled occupational therapist who earned her PhD in Disability Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Ithaca College where she co-founded and chairs the ICOT Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Her work focuses on disrupting harm caused by systems of oppression that are reproduced by academic and healthcare institutions. Her teaching, research, and service focuses on confronting ableism and applying disability justice principles to facilitate curricular transformation and improve access and equity for marginalized communities.

Melodie Kolmetz, MS, Assistant Professor and Director of Didactic Education,  is a Founding Principal Faculty member of the Physician Assistant Program in the at Ithaca College. She is a 1995 graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology PA program and she currently provides clinical care as part of the Rochester Regional Health Mobile Surgical Services team.  In addition to practicing as a PA, Melodie continues to practice as a Paramedic and she appreciates the opportunity to serve the Rochester, NY community as a first responder. She is passionate about community service, life-long learning, and mentorship/sponsorship.

Joseph Christian Ungco, OTD, OTR/L (they/them/he/him) is a queer person of color who earned their Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. They are passionate about queer health, social justice, and equity, and focus their scholarly work on intersectional, responsive and inclusive care. Dr. Ungco is an Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at Ithaca College and serves in several roles for diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives, including serving as co-chair of the Network for LGBTQIA+ Concerns in Occupational Therapy. Dr. Ungco’s work is centered on amplifying the voices of those most impacted by systems of oppression.

For more information and requests for accommodations, please contact Dr. Stewart Auyash,


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