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Lincoln Academy honors Parkinson senior

Farah Elhoumaidi, a senior majoring in healthcare administration, was honored as a 2022 Lincoln Laureate for exemplifying leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and for overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.

The prestigious award is presented by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois to an outstanding senior from each of the four-year degree-granting institutions of higher learning in Illinois. At Loyola University Chicago, the Office of the President selects the student to be honored.

“Farah is an inspiration for all of us through her tireless passion for health and justice through research and action,” said Nallely Mora, a Parkinson research assistant professor. Amy Luke, chair of Parkinson’s Public Health Sciences department, adds that “Farah models Loyola’s spirit of being a woman for and with others, and I know that she will do great things.”

Elhoumaidi is the first student from the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health selected for the award. She is also a Gannon Scholar, a member of Loyola’s Maroon & Gold Society, and a member of Alpha Sigma Nu, the international Jesuit honor society.

Below, we talked to Elhoumaidi about the award and her work with the community.

How does it feel to be recognized?

This award is so humbling and so amazing because people are recognizing me for me. It’s amazing that these things can happen to people like me. My upbringing was filled with adversities as the daughter of two Moroccan immigrant parents who were not able to attend college. I know what it means to work hard, I know what perseverance looks like, and I don’t take anything for granted.

Why healthcare administration?

Growing up I always said I wanted to be a physician, specifically a cardiologist. Over the years, I realized maybe clinical work wasn’t for me. Healthcare administration ended up being a good fit for my leadership skills, commitment to service, and interest in healthcare.

Loyola has a wonderful healthcare administration program where I have been able to learn so much. The cool thing about it is we take different classes seeing all the sides of administration. It’s a nice mix that is broad so you can decide what interests you and where you want to go moving forward.

Talk about your work with underserved communities.

I always say if there’s one thing that I want people to remember about me, it’s my heart. I am a person who strives to be of service in any way that I can be. I want to help people in any capacity because a lot of people have helped me get to where I am today.

For example, I am a part of CERCL, the COVID Equity Response Collaborative here at Loyola, and I’ve been able to meet so many amazing faculty members, students, and professionals. I have two amazing mentors, Dr. Amy Luke and Dr. Nallely Mora.

I work closely with Dr. Mora on my research, which examines the effects of immigration status on attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge of COVID-19 within the Latinx communities here in Chicago and its suburbs. This research has taught me a lot about solutions to issues within underserved communities, and I am grateful for it.

How will you change healthcare?

Through communication and storytelling, I think I can facilitate change in my field and improve care for everyone in the community. It is not just one part of healthcare that needs to change; we all need to do our part and work together to foster the change that we want to see.

It needs to begin with listening to different people’s experiences and stories because that’s what brings us together. Hearing those different insights and perspectives is very important, and I think everyone can learn from each other. This will lead to better health services for everyone.

Why Loyola?

The moment I stepped foot on Loyola during a campus visit, I felt Loyola’s energy and community. At the time, the men’s basketball team was in the Final Four, so everyone was so energized and excited.

I also saw people who looked like me, and I learned Loyola had a great Muslim Student Association. My faith is important to me, and it was so nice to have that sense of community away from home.

My mom and I looked at each other and knew that it was the right fit for me. I am super grateful to have attended Loyola.

What advice do you have for new Loyola students?

Take advantage of the opportunities you are given because they will take you somewhere. I always tell myself, “Talk to this person” or “Connect with this person” because you never know where that will take you. I have been given a lot of cool opportunities just by putting myself out there and connecting with people.

My parents’ sacrifices and opportunities helped bring me here, and I want to do something with that. I would encourage everyone to do everything they can to get to where they want to be.

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