Adler University

Adler University is committed to educating and training socially responsible graduates. The school defines socially responsible graduates as people who embrace diverse perspectives; work to build and maintain bridges across social, economic, cultural, racial, and political systems; empower others to identify and address shared problems; and foster the development of social equality, justice, and respect through compassionate action throughout the global community. The goal of the combined learning experience is to produce agents of social change that will continually evolve their consciousness around social problems and social justice in an effort to promote equity and diversity.



A distinctive feature of Adler University programs, the Social Justice Practicum (previously called the Community Service Practicum) is a requirement for all first-year students at the University. The SJP is unique non-clinical experience, meant to expose future practitioners to concepts of social justice and social change, and to instill in them the ethos and the skill set necessary to engage in socially responsible practice. The overall goal of the SJP is to help students develop knowledge, skills, and perspectives to be agents of social change by understanding power, privilege, systemic oppression, and tools for social justice.  At the end of the SJP experience, students participate in the Annual Community Engagement Symposium to present what they learned from their projects. Students also clarify the knowledge, skills, and perspectives they have gained through their SJP experience.



BACKBONES is a non-profit organization that offers free support to people with spinal cord injuries and their families.  Through their network, they facilitate telephone, in-person, or web-based connections and encourage growth by the sharing of experiences and ideas.  As a host to events, BACKBONES creates an inviting atmosphere where people can ask questions, learn from each other informally, and make lasting friendships.  BACKBONES has collaborated with NMHM Chicago to create various exhibits that aim to promote awareness, decrease stigma, start conversations, and change attitudes about individuals with disabilities.  BACKBONES has joined with NMHM Chicago to mentor Adler interns during 2014, 2015 and 2016.



NMHM Chicago and BACKBONES have partnered to mentor 5 Adler SJP students during the fall of 2015/spring of 2016. The interns are working on several projects dealing with education, marketing, and outreach. The interns are working with the museum and BACKBONES on outreach to schools, libraries, rehabilitation centers and businesses for the exhibits that focus on disability and traumatic brain injury. This outreach team has also met with Communities in Schools to understand the process of creating lessons to accompany the exhibits in educational settings. They will work on making this information easily accessible to schools in the area and online.

The Adler University interns are also helping out on the “Month of MedTech: NMHM Chicago Exhibition Showcase” - a medicine-and-technology exhibit series which will run in January 2016 and the BACKBONES 5K Run, Walk n' Roll, which will be held in April 2016.



Paoula Dyanova is from Chicago, Illinois and is pursuing a PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Adler University. She currently works as a lead behavioral therapist and aids in the development and growth of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She uses her experience in behavioral therapy to train other individuals joining this field. She received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There, she completed her undergraduate research and thesis on the perceptions of speech and non-speech sounds. She has started interning at the National Museum of Health and Science in October 2015. Here, she has been working toward museum funding and scholarships for CodeAbode. She also focuses her efforts on grants and funding for a non-profit organization BACKBONES.



Caitlin Jesus is from Dartmouth, Massachusetts and graduated from Bridgewater State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in the spring of 2015. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling with a specialization in Sport & Health Psychology. She is a member of the Illinois Counseling Association and Association for Applied Sport Psychology. She has experience working with adolescents who present with social and behavioral problems and has undergraduate research experience in sport psychology, specifically the effect of pre-game rituals on actual performance. Caitlin started interning at the museum in October 2015, where she and fellow Adler interns are working on brochures for the exhibits, outreach programming, lesson plans, fundraising, and more to bring awareness and support to the museum.



Harrison McNab is an Adler University student pursuing his Masters in Counseling with a Specialization in Sport and Health Psychology. Harrison completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology and minored in Sociology at Spring Hill College in May 2015. Harrison is a member of the Illinois Counseling Association. He started interning at the museum in October 2015. Harrison is deaf/hearing impaired and has a strong passion and interest to work with the deaf/hearing impaired population. He has been inspired to serve as a leader for both the deaf/hearing impaired and individuals with other disabilities.




 Julianna Murphy grew up in the south side suburb of Blue Island, IL. She graduated from Elmhurst College with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with minors in Art and Music. She is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Art Therapy at Adler University. She has a background in working with disabilities both personally and professionally, having grown up with a special needs sibling as well as working at an adult-day program for those with developmental disabilities called, LifeStyles Academy in suburban Palos Park, IL.  Julianna started interning at the museum in October 2015. There she will work with fellow Adler interns in outreaching the museum exhibits, create education lesson plans and fundraising to bring more awareness of the museum to Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Julianna hopes to start her own non-profit art center where individuals with developmental disabilities may express their creativity and gain vocational endeavors.


Marina Salman was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Oak Lawn. She graduated from Saint Xavier University with a Bachelor of Arts in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Religious Studies. Marina is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a specialization in Sport & Health Psychology. As someone who grew up with multiple disabilities, Marina has found a new home at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, where she is able to share her life story and speak on behalf of the disability community regarding current issues and injustices facing individuals with disabilities.  

Before pursuing her bachelor’s degree, Marina was a former wheelchair basketball and sled hockey player for the Glasa Wave Adaptive Sports League. Marina is a newly member of the Illinois Counseling Association (ICA) and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), and is a current member of the International Honor Society in Psychology (Psi Chi). Marina hopes to work with collegiate and elite athletes, along working with para-athletes and Olympians. Marina has a strong passion in working with domestic violence victims, and hopes to implement and expand violence prevention & anger management programs within collegiate and elite sport arenas.




NMHM Chicago partnered once again with BACKBONES to mentor six Adler students for their CSP during the spring/summer of 2015. The interns worked on several exhibits that were shown at the museum in 2015. They collaborated with BACKBONES to showcase the ReelAbilities Film Festival, which was presented in conjunction with ADA25 Chicago. They also worked with BACKBONES to create TechAbility, an exhibit that focused on technology and disability. It includes a historical overview as well as a look at current technology that affects individuals with disabilities. The interns researched universal design, apps, cultural institutions in and around Chicago, wheelchairs, low cost options for accessibility, transportation, cutting edge technology, and 3D printing.



Danielle Slyder is an Adler University student pursuing her masters in Art Therapy and Counseling. Danielle is involved in the Adler Art Therapy Student Association and Illinois Psychological Association for Graduate Students. Danielle completed her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts and minored in Psychology at Eastern Illinois University in May 2014. She began volunteering at the museum in January 2015. Danielle plans to use her skills to help the National Museum of Health and Medicine Chicago and its partners to collaboratively create new exhibits and spread awareness of different health problems that effect our society today.




Le’Schon Woodson is a Chicago native and graduated in December 2012 from Saint Xavier University with a Bachelor Degree in Clinical Psychology. She is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy at Adler University. Le’Schon is a licensed cosmetologist of over 20 years, which has fueled her passion and love of working with people. Her motto: “It takes a village.”





Love Arora grew up in Long Island, New York.  She graduated from Stony Brook University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology.  She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a focus in Neurology and Addiction.  She has a robust medical background and has worked with a diverse group of individuals all over the world, including the Caribbean and India.  She has joined the NMHMC to continue to broaden her depth of knowledge working within a community setting.





Lyndsey Hedger has recently moved to Chicago from Knoxville, TN to study Art Therapy at Adler University. Lyndsey’s undergraduate work includes a BFA in Printmaking and Art Education with a minor in Art History. She is passionate about the arts and is excited to grow her experience in using art therapy to work with children upon graduation. Lyndsey is excited for this opportunity to work at the museum while collaborating to discover new intersections of art, science, and technology, and the impact they have on all of us. She will be working on exhibits, including a ReelAbilities Film Festival and a Technology and Disability exhibit. Each of these exhibits will offer new experiences working with diverse populations and as well as offer challenges and new ways of problem solving to serve the greater area of Chicago. Lyndsey is thrilled to be in Chicago and working with this great organization!



Sarah Weisman is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Couple and Family Therapy at Adler University in downtown Chicago. As an aspiring Marriage and Family Therapist, Sarah is especially passionate about working with children in a therapeutic context. She has wide-ranging experiences working with children and families throughout the Midwest. Originally from Minneapolis Minnesota, Sarah lived in Iowa City from 2008-2012 while receiving her undergraduate education in Psychology, Global Health Studies, and the field of Child Life at the University of Iowa. Sarah is excited to be able to apply her love of filmmaking in working with BACKBONES to develop the upcoming ReelAbilities Film Festival hosted in Chicago this September.




Zukhra Asqarova grew up in New York City. She graduated from the Hunter College of the City University of New York with a degree in Psychology. Her past experiences include research at the NYSPI, and she also worked with mentally ill and intellectually disabled people at the psychiatric hospital and clinics in New York City. Zukhra is currently a doctorate student at the Adler University, where she will complete her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology. She is excited to collaborate with the National Museum of Health + Medicine Chicago and its partners to engage public in science and technology.









The theme of the 2014 CSP was "The Power of Partnerships", in which Adler placed individuals or small teams of students at each site to help their community partners increase the capacity of their current internal and/or external partnerships.  NMHM Chicago partnered with BACKBONES to mentor four Adler students for their CSP during the spring/summer of 2014.  The students created an exhibit that showcases local athletes in sports.  Redefining the Game draws parallels between traditional and adaptive sports by emphasizing athleticism rather than ability level.  The purpose of this exhibit was to promote awareness and decrease stigma surrounding individuals with disabilities.  To accomplish this, the students researched local athletic organizations and sports teams throughout the Chicago area and conducted interviews regarding their athletic experience.  Many people are unaware of the athletic opportunities their community has for people who are differently abled.  The students hoped to introduce the concept of able-bodied athletes participating in adaptive sports to further promote inclusion of diversity.  The exhibit also allows for the opportunity for local organizations to get their name out and expand their resources.  Redefining the Game also promotes the idea that people who are differently abled are not defined by the negative stereotypes that are often imposed on them, such as being helpless, inferior, or incapable.



Anna Crouch is a student at the Adler University getting her Masters degree in Counseling and Art Therapy. Originally from Omaha, NE, Anna moved to Earlham, Iowa in middle school and proudly calls herself an Iowan. She graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Studio Art. After graduating, she worked as a special education associate at an elementary school in Iowa. She moved to Chicago in 2012 as an AmeriCorps member to work at Misericordia Home, a residential facility for adults and children with developmental disabilities. Anna still works at Misericordia, and it is her passion to pursue a similar path in her art therapy career.




Jennifer McDermott grew up in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse in December of 2012, with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Psychology and Communication Studies. Much of her time in undergrad was spent working as an integral part of various research teams. Jen is currently a doctoral student at the Adler University, working towards a degree in Clinical Psychology. Using her previous experience in public relations, Jen is working with NMHMC to develop and maintain relationships with other organizations in the community in order to educate and inform the population of the work the museum does.




Derra Gullickson grew up in Rush City, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota, Morris with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology. Derra is currently a doctorate student at the Adler University, where she will complete her Psy.D in Clinical Psychology. Her past experiences include working with people who have mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities in group home settings and also with adolescent girls who suffered from trauma. Derra is interested in the museum to further her experience with diverse populations. She plans to complete outreach work with local organizations to aid in the development of community relationships with the museum.




Ashley Hussey has recently relocated to Chicago from St. Augustine, Florida to study Art Therapy at the Adler University. Ashley’s undergraduate work includes studies in both Psychology and Studio Art. She obtained her BA in 2007 from Flagler College, in St. Augustine, FL.  After graduating from Flagler, Ashley taught children diagnosed with developmental delays in a behavior therapy school. In 2010, Ashley shifted careers and became the Children’s Advocate at a domestic violence and sexual assault shelter. Ashley was drawn to the Adler University because of its emphasis on community involvement and social justice. She is looking forward to collaborating with the museum and its partners to engage the public in learning about science and technology and the impact they have on all of us.




*Text about Adler taken from the Adler website and the Annual Community Engagement Symposium Presentation.  Image in banner also taken from the Adler website.