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SSIG Candidates for 2020-2021 Executive Committee

We are very pleased to announce the candidates for the 2020-2021 SSIG Executive Committee

Voting for the SSIG Elections opens on April 29th and will close at 11:59pm on May 20th. Results will be published on May 26th and those elected into position will take office on June 1st, 2020.

Voting is as simple as 1, 2, 3!

1. Go to the voting site: https://vote.associationvoting.com/ipta/
2. Log in by entering your last name and your APTA membership number.

3. Follow the online instructions to cast your ballot.

Using your APTA member number ensures that your vote is unique to you and can only be cast once. Once cast, it is anonymous in the system. If you require help with logging into the voting website, please email IPTA at ipta@ipta.org.

Your vote matters. Voting is the most powerful way for you to have a voice in who serves in leadership and where you see the IPTA heading.


Best of luck to all candidates!

*** All candidates appear in order of positions & alphabetically

Executive Committee Positions

CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT

MEET:

KIMBERLY HICKS, SPT

 

2nd year student at Governors State University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"A mentor once told me, “Change is going to happen with or without you. So, decide whether it happens to you or because of you.” Being a part of the larger community of students, physical therapist assistants, and physical therapists who are making those big changes allows my voice to be heard.

In 2019, I helped organize a National Advocacy Dinner co-hosted with Fox College PTA students. While I try to attend as many professional and volunteer events as possible, co-hosting and being able to organize this type of event was a game-changer. Not only was it learning new forms of advocacy, but it was inspiring to hear from such a diverse group of students and professionals in one forum. I am excited to immerse myself further into the governing process and rally around the ideas of others. As a student, the SSIG helps us network and communicate, but I believe it also helps us build lasting relationships.

My goal is to inspire others to engage in advocacy outside of the individual programs. Actively participating in the SSIG allows us to connect with each other and share our diverse voices, because together we are stronger. The Student Special Interest Group president is a once in a lifetime opportunity to grow professionally alongside my peers with similar passions, while working towards a better quality of life for my family, my community, and the advancement of the physical therapy profession."

A little bit about Kimberly:

"Like any other DPT student, most of my time is taken up with studies and school activities. But, I like to recharge with good food, good conversation, or a good bargain. Who doesn’t love finding a new place for taco Tuesday and catching up with an old friend for hours? I really value taking time to de-stress, even if it is just a few minutes outside to watch the sunset. It is also pretty sad to see how excited I get about the local thrift store’s half-off Mondays!"


MEET:

DENA KONTOS, SPT

 

2nd year student at Northwestern University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"After serving as part of the Student Special Interest Group Leadership in 2019-2020, my passion for this group and our profession has grown tremendously. The SSIG does amazing things for students and gives us a unique opportunity to help shape the future of Physical Therapy. I would be honored to step up and serve as President to help my fellow students get the most out of their IPTA experience and empower them to take ownership of their professional future. My previous role as Communications Liaison has helped cultivate my leadership, creativity, and communication skills through participation in projects such as PT Day of Service, creating content for the SSIG Vitals Newsletters and social media, and speaking at monthly SSIG board meetings. These opportunities allowed me to grow as a leader while connecting with fellow students from all over Illinois. If elected President, I will utilize these skills along with my passion for this group to prepare students for their professional roles and to help strengthen the SSIG and ensure that it continues to thrive for years to come."

A little bit about Dena:

"I am a second year student at Northwestern University, originally from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. I graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Kinesiology. In my free time, playing tennis is my favorite way to get some exercise and relieve stress! I first picked up the game in middle school, and loved it so much that I continued playing in high school and in college as part of my school’s club team. Currently, I am interested in the Pediatric or Pelvic Health settings, but I am open to any and all possibilities!"


CANDIDATES FOR VICE PRESIDENT

MEET:

DANIEL BARAJAS, SPT

 

1st year student at Northern Illinois University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"I am running for VP because I want to share my passion and enthusiasm to revolutionize health care and society through physical therapy. With a “yes we can” attitude I want to inspire PT/PTA students to think outside the box and dream big in order to take this evolving profession into the future. I want to listen to student's concerns and create opportunities for professional development. I am familiar with the struggles students face while in school and providing/developing resources for managing student debt and improving mental health are some of my top priorities. As a non-trad student, I have experience in healthcare and I am passionate about educating society, not just policy makers and MD's, about the value of PT. I want to illustrate what our field is capable of so that more students engage in advocacy for our field, especially about public health issues such the opioid crisis. I believe diversity and inclusion in our field is key to meet the needs of society and I will work to develop resources for all students."

A little bit about Daniel:

"I am originally form Mexico and lived in Europe growing up. Nothing cheers me up like helping others so I volunteer with adaptive sport teams. I also love dogs (hello k-9 therapy!). I run ultramarathons (ouch) and have my eye on becoming an Ironman. My SPT journey has not been easy but I have the endurance and grit to be a great example and move us forward."


MEET:

BRIANA ZABIEREK, SPT

 

2nd year student at Rosalind Franklin University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"I chose to run for the position of Vice President because being involved in a group that aspires to grow the profession of physical therapy is one I want to be part of. From the first day of our program, I wanted to be active in our school, community and with the APTA and IPTA. Being elected for this position affords me the opportunity to work alongside equally motivated, excited, and persistent students to make our PT and PTA educational experiences the highest-quality. I currently hold an executive board position in a group on campus that works within our local community to grow our profession. I was also able to attend APTA's Combined Sections Meeting in January to learn more about the future endeavors of our profession. With these experiences, I feel prepared and eager to take on the role as Vice President of the SSIG for the IPTA. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the PT and PTA students in Illinois and growing the profession at the state level. Thank you for taking time to consider me for this position!"

A little bit about Briana:

"I was raised in Lockport, Illinois and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for my undergraduate degree where I studied Nutrition and Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology. I was an All-American for the Women's Bowling Team and have competed at the professional and national level. I have a 3-year-old dog named Olive who is the sweetest little Scottie and Yorkie mix. I'm an aficionado of The Office and enjoy watching the latest thrillers in the cinema. "


MEET:

EMILIO ZAYAS, SPT

 

2nd year student at Governors State University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"It's an honor to represent the students of physical therapy as well as physical therapy assistants of Illinois. If elected as Vice President, on behalf of my fellow students, I will promote the interests and assist the President in the conduct of SSIG activities to ensure the best outcomes for our profession!"

A little bit about Emilio:

"I am a second year SPT at Governors State University. I eventually want to open up my own physical therapy clinic and recreation center where I can provide the community with quality rehabilitation as well as provide the public an outlet from stressful day to day activities. I enjoy spending my free time engaging in many forms of exercise including lifting weights, cycling, playing basketball (even though I'm not the best, I used to be a wrestler), racquetball, and yoga. I am also certified as an advanced and rescue scuba diver. In September 2019, I volunteered as part of the Burnham Harbor Clean Up Scuba Dive Crew, where a team of 25 members dove to the bottom of Lake Michigan to pick up as much debris as possible. When I am not exercising or volunteering, I enjoy socializing with friends and fellow students. Last year, I led a committee of GSU students and created the first Illinois Physical Therapy Foundation (IPTF) Networking Gala. The social event generated the opportunity for PT/PTA students to network with professionals and future employers in the health care profession. In response to the successful fundraiser, the IPTF has directed the proceeds raised from the Networking Gala to create the new Student to Student scholarship. I look forward to this year’s event, in August, and supporting fellow PT/PTA students in becoming the best professionals that they aspire to be."


CANDIDATES FOR SECRETARY/ TREASURER

MEET:

JENNA BROWN, SPT

 

2nd year student at Northwestern University

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"As a physical therapy student, I value opportunities that challenge me outside of the academic bubble. I strongly believe that becoming a great physical therapist is achieved not only from the clinical decision making ability and skill expertise but also from the leadership and communication skills that are acquired as DPT students. I want to be the Secretary/Treasurer for the Illinois SSIG because I strive to continue my passion of leadership, advocacy, and communication on a larger platform. Furthermore, I would use my leadership platform to be an advocate for all DPT and PTA students to ensure they are getting these opportunities to set them up for success.

This past year I have served as the Event Coordinator for Northwestern Love Your Melon Campus Crew, where I connected with many local organizations and was a part of initiatives in efforts to serve, fundraise, and bring joy to children and their families battling pediatric cancer. At Northwestern University, I am currently a student worker with the clinical education team. This role has further developed my skills in preparing materials for continuing education courses and has broadened my knowledge about Illinois physical therapy programs, clinics, and hospitals. If I were chosen as IPTA SSIG Secretary/Treasurer, I would bring my personal qualities and acquired skills to meet the needs of the executive board and the greater good of all Illinois DPT and PTA students.

I believe that I am the best qualified candidate for this position because I am organized, detail oriented, approachable and reliable. My current position (ending July 2020) as the Student Special Projects Intern for the Brain Injury Special Interest Group (BI SIG) of the Academy of Neurological Physical Therapy has given me the experience with SIG responsibilities including updating member personnel, website material, and assisting with advocacy initiatives. Serving as an Intern for BI SIG has also given me insight on other roles within a SIG, the role the SIG plays as a part of the APTA, and the power of team work— so I would fit right in as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Illinois SSIG. "

A little bit about Jenna:

"I grew up in Southern Minnesota on a farm, where I learned the value and life skills about honesty and hard work. I expanded my horizons when I traveled to the big city of Minneapolis for my undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota, where I majored in Kinesiology. I have grown very fond of the city of Chicago! Some of my favorite things to do here are running on the lakefront, exploring the summer festivals, finding new restaurants or coffee shops, and participating in intramural basketball and volleyball. A fun fact about me is that I love to train for and run marathons!"


MEET:

HEATHER CIGAS, SPT

 

2nd year student at Northwestern University

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"I have been looking for more ways to get involved in the IPTA, as my passion for the physical therapy profession has only grown since starting school. This role would allow me to serve in a capacity that uses many of my strengths and skills, backed by my enthusiasm for the profession and the IPTA SSIG. In addition to staying up to date on clinical practices, through both research and continuing education, I believe the role of a physical therapist is to be an advocate for our profession, our patients, and for the health, wellness and quality of life of our society. Through local, regional, and national community engagement opportunities, the physical therapy profession is continually advancing. Similarly, the IPTA SSIG advocates for students to bring a fresh, new perspective to the ever-evolving field of physical therapy, through means of community engagement.

I have held multiple leadership positions in college and at NUPT, both of which required me to collaborate with a team. As a result, I was able to grow upon my skills in responsibility and professionalism. My current position as one of the two class of 2021 curriculum committee representatives involves collecting feedback from my ninety-person class, and voicing said feedback back to the teachers and staff. This feedback can range anywhere from curriculum questions to general concerns. Correspondingly, I am one of the directors on the social media team in charge of running the NUPT department instagram, and am currently spearheading a movement that consists of posting positive content daily from faculty and staff members. Additionally, I serve as a student advisor on the Student Health Advisory Committee of Northwestern’s Chicago campus. This position also requires me to present student feedback and advocate for students. Each position I have held has expanded my skill set immensely, including but not limited to: written and face-to-face communication, public speaking, professionalism, organization, collaboration, managerial expertise, time management, presentation proficiency, and stress management. I have also served in the financial officer role on multiple executive boards. This has given me ample experience in preparing budgets, using excel and writing financial reports. This skill set combined with my aptitude of collaborating with others, makes me an excellent choice for the Secretary/Treasurer position. I look forward to this opportunity in getting to know other students in the field, while utilizing my skills to speak on behalf of members of the IPTA."

A little bit about Heather:

"I would describe myself as personable, enthusiastic, and ambitious. The midwest has been my home my entire life, as I grew up in Kansas City (Go Chiefs!). From there, I moved to Chicago for my undergraduate degree at Loyola University Chicago, followed by my current journey for my DPT at Northwestern University. Despite hating the cold, Chicago has surprisingly become a second home to me. I am continually finding new restaurants to eat at and new places to explore; I supplement my love for eating with my love for running. That being said, I am a huge advocate for health and wellness, and in addition to pursuing my DPT, have been a personal trainer and group fitness instructor since 2017. It is my hope to be able to combine the knowledge I have obtained from both practices, in combination with my psychosocial skills, to become a well-rounded clinician. I love to travel, and am looking forward to an upcoming service trip to Belize in December as a part of Hillside Healthcare. This trip will be an amazing physical therapy service learning opportunity, in addition to a wonderful travel experience. Furthermore, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in China during college, and while there, took a class on Chinese Medicine, which proved to be helpful in broadening my healthcare knowledge on different practices around the world. "


CANDIDATES FOR SPECIAL EVENTS COORDINATOR

MEET:

KARRIGAN COWAN, SPT

 

1st year student at Northern Illinois University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"I wish to run for this position because I am interested in becoming more involved in the community of IPTA and greater body of APTA. I want to develop my leadership skills more now that I am into a routine and not as stressed with the overwhelming task of adjusting to graduate school. Leadership was a very important part of my undergraduate career. I believe it enhances the educational experience to be involved in positions that expand the mind and challenge us. To continue in a leadership position during my graduate education would be an honor. I would also enjoy being a positive representation of my institution. Northern Illinois University has been the best place for me to develop myself as a professional. Having faculty that believe in the power of a representative body and truly involve themselves in the IPTA would make any student want to delve into similar involvement."

A little bit about Karrigan:

"Outside of being a student, I love to remain active. I am an avid traveler, moving back and forth between the Chicagoland and St. Louis area for the entirety of my undergraduate career. Since I am bound to Chicagoland for school, I have 4 trips planned for 2020 already! I also enjoy being physically active. Being an SPT, I use exercise to combat some of the stress that school can have. I was hired by Northern Illinois University's recreation center to teach fitness classes. The dedication of having a job and needing to show up for my fitness participants was fantastic motivation to keep me going to the gym and staying active on days that I did not want to. It was great for my mental health, and for group fitness to be my job was just icing on the cake. In my (very little) free time, I spend time with my family and play with my foster brothers (ages 4 and 5). "


MEET:

MEGAN McCONNELL, SPT

 

2nd year student at Northern Illinois University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"I chose to run for the position of special events coordinator because I want to share my desire to be involved in the IPTA and APTA in a way that would benefit other students. Since the start of DPT school I have stayed active in both professional organizations, attending several district meetings and Third Thursday webinars as well as national conferences such as CSM. These experiences have shown me just how much the IPTA has to offer students to further our education and set us up for success in our careers. I would love the opportunity to help plan events like these that encourage students to be engaged in our profession and to take advantage of the resources we have from the IPTA and APTA.

In undergrad, I served on my service organization’s fundraising committee and was able to help organize our largest philanthropy event as well as several smaller events. I have a passion for helping others and promoting the physical therapy profession. I think my experiences, in addition to my organization and leadership skills, make me a great fit for the special events coordinator position."

A little bit about Megan:

"I grew up in a small town in northern Illinois called Kingston with two younger sisters and my parents. I attended community college to receive my Associate of Science as well as my EMT-Basic certification. In 2015, I transferred to Northern Illinois University to pursue my B.S. in Health Sciences with a Pre-Physical Therapy emphasis. I currently work as a security guard at the campus library and work as extra help on a horse farm on weekends. I also enjoy volunteering some of my free time to a nearby physical therapist who provides hippotherapy to pediatric patients.

My favorite things to do include hiking with my friends, playing softball, or reading a good book. Some of my more recent interests are horseback riding and Olympic weightlifting. One of my favorite things to do outside of school is travel. My boyfriend and I frequently take weekend trips to places like St. Louis to attend sporting events. He’s a St. Louis fan and I’m a Chicago fan, so we have a fun little rivalry. "


MEET:

SARA STANKOSKEY, SPT

 

2nd year student at Rosalind Franklin University

 

 

Why do you wish to run for this position?

"I believe that it’s so important for PT/PTA students to be actively involved in the APTA and have a positive impact on the future of our physical therapy profession. Since starting PT school, I’ve been determined to become involved with a team of like-minded individuals to provide additional meaningful and educational opportunities outside of the classroom for Illinois PT/PTA students. I have had the opportunity to assist with organizing multiple events in the past and believe these experiences will help me serve as the special events coordinator for the IPTA SSIG to the best of my ability. I would be honored to serve in this position, take charge with organizing events, and help students across Illinois develop into the best possible future clinicians. I appreciate your time and consideration!"

A little bit about Sara:

"I’ve lived in Illinois my whole life and grew up in Carol Stream! I love playing soccer and played collegiately for 4 years at Illinois State University. In my spare time, I’m probably watching the Blackhawks (or any hockey game that’s on TV), listening to podcasts, exploring the city, or going to concerts with friends.

I also have a huge passion for helping pre-physical therapy students get accepted into physical therapy school! Through my journey to PT school, I felt alone throughout the whole process, so I wanted to give back and help others who are in the position I was. I work with a platform called Pre-PT Grind as a mentor, pre-physical therapy student coach, and social media intern coordinator. I have found that being a mentor to these students has been very rewarding as they overcome the obstacles faced in their journeys to becoming future DPTs."


CANDIDATES FOR SPTA DIRECTOR

BALLOT VACANT

 

 



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