Graduate Student Ambassador Program

The mission of the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation (JHR) is to encourage dialogue among rehabilitation professionals, educators, researchers, and students along with patients, families, and carepartners to explore the human condition as it experiences the impact of illness or disability. JHR strives to raise the consciousness and understanding of humanism in rehabilitation through an interdisciplinary approach.


The JHR Graduate Student Ambassador Program was developed to help advance the mission of JHR by introducing graduate students across all disciplines to the field of health humanities. Graduate Student Ambassadors have the opportunity to bring the mission of JHR to their home institution and serve as mentors and advocates for the integration of health humanities into rehabilitation science educational curricula, and support evidence-based health humanities research.


By working directly with JHR Editor-in-Chief Dr. Sarah Blanton, Ambassadors will develop student-led initiatives that are unique to their interests. Additionally, JHR Ambassadors have the opportunity to develop skills in scholarship by contributing content and learning about the operations of an academic, peer-reviewed journal.


To that end, we invite graduate students from all disciplines to take part in the JHR Graduate Student Ambassador Program, to initiate important and timely conversations at their University and further the mission of JHR.

What you will learn from being a Graduate Student Ambassador for the JHR

  • Marketable experience in the operations of a peer-reviewed, open-access academic journal. Ambassadors have the unique opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the review and publishing process by being involved in some of our day-to-day activities and ongoing academic initiatives. This includes helping to promote and coordinate the national student essay contest co-sponsored by ACAPT Consortium for the Humanities, Ethics, and Professionalism (CHEP) and JHR.


  • Advanced skills in program planning and implementation. Ambassadors are required to host at least two events over the course of their tenure (see examples below), creating opportunities for themselves and their peers to explore a range of interests within the area of the humanities and rehabilitation. Through this work, you can become a vital, active component of the mission and vision of JHR.


  • Cross-discipline collaboration. One of the goals of the Graduate Student Ambassador Program is to improve collaboration among disciplines. As a JHR Graduate Student Ambassador, you will serve an instrumental role in achieving collaborative, humanistic innovations in learning, while building relationships across curricula and among faculty, staff, and students.

What you can do as a JHR Graduate Student Ambassador

  • Represent your respective educational program and The Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, inviting ongoing creative dialogue and idea-sharing.


  • Grow professionally by serving in the role of JHR Graduate Student Ambassador for one full year, with regular check-ins with JHR Editor-in-Chief Dr. Sarah Blanton to discuss your ideas for integrating the humanities into your curriculum and clinical practice.


  • Provide an informational session on JHR at your University (including your current class and faculty).


  • Host at least two programmatic events over the course of your tenure. You may choose to:
    • Screen a film that may be a complement to your coursework, such as 100 Meters—a film about a man diagnosed with multiple sclerosis who responds by training for an Ironman competition.
    • Visit a museum and explore with fellow students creative themes regarding disability, aging, pain, or social justice. Engage in follow-up discussions to expand each attendee’s understanding and empathy regarding crisis and rehabilitation.


  • Host a book club or poetry reading exploring how literature can deepen one’s understanding of life challenges (eg, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, or Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, by Atul Gawande).


  • Disseminate important, timely information about ongoing JHR initiatives to colleagues and faculty at your educational program.


  • Engage in an idea-sharing phone call each semester with JHR Editor-in-Chief Dr. Sarah Blanton.

If you are looking to help build a deeper understanding of the patient experience of injury and rehabilitation, and create a new, enlightened generation of professionals, join us! Your unique student perspective could be a vital component of the growth of JHR’s mission.

Current Graduate Student Ambassadors

Christopher Hansen

Christopher Hansen is a DPT student at Creighton University. He is from Springfield, Missouri, where he attended Drury University for his undergraduate degree, majoring in Exercise Physiology and minoring in English and Psychology. It was at Drury University that he developed a passion for reading, writing, and studying literature, but felt the calling towards physical therapy as a vocation. He appreciates the sciences and is pursuing his Doctorate in Physical Therapy, but he is still deeply drawn to the humanities and how they provide tools to deepen understanding of the human condition. To escape the stresses of professional school, he does long distance running, cooking, reading, and writing. Christopher learned about the JHR and was immediately interested. He believes that good care for patients comes from face-to-face interaction and understanding the human condition in a way that only the humanities can provide.  He is excited to be a part of the JHR and to increase awareness of how the humanistic approach to rehabilitation can positively impact the experiences of patients and physical therapy as a profession.

Previous Graduate Student Ambassadors

Austin Geary

Austin Geary, SPT is a third-year physical therapy student at Creighton University. He grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado and attended Saint Mary’s College of California for his undergraduate degree. Saint Mary’s has a strong emphasis on its seminar courses, called “The Great Conversation,” and a strong community is created through these shared experiences. Each year every student takes a semester reading the great books and engaging in meaningful conversation on those texts, and this experience led him to apply as a student ambassador for the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation. Geary is excited to provide his peers with opportunities many did not have during their undergraduate careers, and to he wants to encourage them to put rehabilitation and patients into the bigger picture. To him, the humanities are one of the most valuable resources we have in health care. The humanities give us an opportunity to connect with our patients on a deeper level, and to see the human condition in a more full light.

Maria Beacom

Maria Beacom is a DPT student at Creighton University. She grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, attended Creighton University for her undergraduate degree and was eager to stay at Creighton to continue her graduate school training. After having received a liberal arts education in college, she noticed something lacking in her own personal development during the first semester of graduate school. She noted that if she was to develop a practice in humanities as a way of life, she must take that responsibility into her own hands. This meant finding opportunities to be in community with her peers, in an environment that allowed for growth outside the classroom. Upon learning about the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation, she was thrilled to know such a resource existed for rehabilitation students, clinicians, ad professionals. It seems imperative that those working in the field of rehabilitation constantly strive to understand the human experience as we encounter patients, many of whom are enduring some of life’s toughest challenges as well as hard-fought triumphs. Approaching this understanding through the lens of the humanities, as we open the discussion to art, literature, music etc., informs our scientific education and prepares us to be better clinicians. Maria is delighted to be an ambassador for JHR and to encourage this discussion and growth among her peers.

Katelyn Dean

Katelyn Dean is a Doctor of Physical Therapy student at the Medical University of South Carolina. Her love of the humanities began when she was in elementary school, and she has incorporated creative energies into all of her studies since then. She frequently draws to express concepts for herself and others, and she plays the piano and paints to relieve the stress of graduate school. The humanities have naturally been integrated into her life, which has allowed her to better understand close friends and family through shared experiences of creative expression. She has yearned for a way to incorporate the humanities into her current professional life as well as her future clinical practice. She was excited to learn that the humanities were being embedded in rehabilitation sciences through the work of the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation (JHR). She is excited to be able to participate as an ambassador with JHR and looking forward to engaging her peers and mentors in exploring aspects of rehabilitation that are difficult to objectively quantify.

Mia Morandi

Mia Morandi is DPT student at Creighton University. She was born overseas to a Finnish mother and Italian father but has learned to call metro Detroit home. She grew up traveling, speaking different languages and spending far too much time in museums. From a young age, she sought to capture emotions and details that fascinated her through different art mediums, especially photography. Travel and language gave her an appreciation for listening, patience and connecting with others. Art and literature taught her to reflect, creatively solve problems and wonder. But she felt called to help others. Upon moving to Omaha to start grad school, Mia was floored to find that there was an incredible art museum and active communities that celebrated diverse cultures. She would study in the art museum, taking breaks to wander the halls, often alone, and had consigned to herself that she would quietly foster this blend of humanities and science on her own. Then in the spring, she was introduced to the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation and felt elated and invigorated that she was no longer alone. How incredible that there is a resource for all rehabilitation professionals, to connect and continually learn from each other on how we can better understand the human experience so we may better serve our patients.

The humanities are a passion of hers that she wants to continue to cultivate while simultaneously intertwining it with her education in physical therapy. As an ambassador, she is excited to explore the positive impact that she knows this combination will have, both in our professional and personal lives, with her colleagues.

Hannah Vaca

Hannah Vaca is a DPT student at Creighton University. She is originally from Sioux Falls, SD and completed her undergraduate degree at Augustana University. Although her love and interest for the sciences and rehab studies runs deep, she has always reveled in learning about the humanities, specifically dance, poetry, literature, and theatre. She not only enjoys learning about the human body and how it functions, but how we as humans process the world around us, express ourselves, and relate to others; perhaps explaining her undergraduate degrees as a Biology major with an English minor. Connecting with others while on the road towards healing was one of the driving factors for her deciding to pursue a career in physical therapy. Hannah believes that being able to understand and connect with patients and other members in the medical profession is a vital skill that clinicians should possess and is one of the reasons she is ecstatic to have the opportunity to serve as a graduate student ambassador for the JHR and spread the humanities to her fellow classmates and future colleagues.

Kat Omnes

Kat Omnes is a DPT student at Washington University in St. Louis. She grew up as an avid reader and art-maker, which led her to study Fine Art and English Literature in college. When she realized this was not exactly the career she wanted, she took a break from school to find a different path. She gravitated towards physical therapy because she could work with people directly and felt continually inspired by the human ability to heal, grow, and change through rehab. Art and literature had allowed her to explore the world by observing diverse worldviews and experiences in the form of paintings, sculptures, novels and other works. Physical therapy allows her to explore this same human diversity by getting to work with patients who all bring their own cultures, histories, and personalities into the healing process. She believes that the same “muscles” we use to connect with works of art are the same ones we use to connect with the people around us, and to connect with the patients who entrust us with their health. Finding out about the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation was an exciting moment for her and helped her to realize just how valuable her studies in the arts will be for her career in PT. She is thrilled to have this opportunity at JHR to continue exploring the intersections between the arts, humanities, and rehabilitation, and to encourage this exploration within her program.

Jennifer Blandino

Jennifer Blandino is a Doctor of Physical Therapy student at DeSales University. She grew up in Bridgewater, NJ, and attended DeSales University for her undergraduate degree in Health Sciences as part of the accelerated BS/DPT program. From the first day she picked up a book as a child, Jenn has experienced love for reading and writing. In fact, she told anyone who would listen that she would be an author when she grew up. When physical therapy stole her heart as a career path, Jenn didn’t stop reading and writing. Rather, she realized the opportunity to combine her interests. She realizes the inherent complementary relationship between rehabilitation and the stories people have to share, and she wants to help display this humanity. In addition to reading and writing, Jenn enjoys running long distances, crocheting, knitting, and spending time with family and friends.

Amy Samuelson

Amy Samuelson is from Sioux City, Iowa and is a recent DPT graduate from Creighton University. She heard about the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation when she spoke with Dr. Blanton at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting. While conversing with a group in a quaint coffee shop with paintings on the walls, a wave of peace came over her while she thought about her love for music and the arts. Using the practice of “See, Think, Wonder,” she discussed with her peers what the paintings on the wall of that coffee shop meant to each of them. For Amy, it was interesting to see how they all can look at the same painting or listen to the same piece of music, but they each had their own interpretations of the art. She acknowledged that these interpretations also can vary from day to day based on their moods. The group agreed that they can apply this type of observation to their clinical practice, which led to a discussion about the humanities—which she believes is a critical component of any profession. The humanities teach us to be active listeners, which includes putting our patients first without casting judgment. She is excited to be an ambassador for the Journal of Humanities in Rehabilitation because she is interested in the humanities and wants to share that with others. Amy believes that if we can incorporate the humanities into our practice of caring for others, we can lead the way to a positive experience overall.

How to Become a JHR Graduate Student Ambassador

For graduate students interested in applying to be an Ambassador at their University please click on the following link:

JHR Graduate Student Ambassador Program Application

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