Turning Disability Into a Possibility

Erica Beth Van Zuidam

Erica Van Zuidam, a second-year occupational therapy student, is this year’s winner of the Eugene J-MA Thonar PhD Award, honoring those at Rush University Medical Center who have turned a disability into a possibility, both professionally and personally.

“It is my pleasure to present Erica with this award,” said Dr. Larry Goodman, CEO of Rush University Medical Center, who presented the award to Van Zuidam on Tuesday, November 16.  “As both student and teacher, with an indomitable spirit, she represents everything this award stands for.”

Van Zuidam, who lost four limbs because of a severe case of bacterial meningitis while she was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois in 2005, is enrolled in the master’s program in occupational therapy at Rush University.  According to her instructors, she has excelled in her classes with creativity, ingenuity and humor.  She brings lectures alive by sharing her experiences and making fellow students feel comfortable asking questions about disabilities.  Continue reading