Over 400 Future Health Sciences Professionals Graduate Touro University's School of Health Sciences

Eleven Outstanding Practitioners Receive Prestigious Maimonides Award

June 17, 2024
Eleven students in caps and gowns holding their awards.
The School of Health Sciences selected eleven outstanding practitioners-in-training to receive prestigious Maimonides Awards.

Touro University School of Health Sciences awarded over 400 hundred graduate degrees at a lively commencement ceremony held on June 4, at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookville, NY. Students earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level degrees in a range of fields including physician assistant, speech and language pathology, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, industrial-organizational psychology, general psychology, clinical mental health counseling, and applied behavioral analysis. Eleven stellar students were selected to receive the prestigious Maimonides Award for demonstrating the highest professional ideals of a practitioner of the health sciences.

“Graduates, today we celebrate your achievements, perseverance, and resilience as you embark on your professional careers in the health sciences field. As you move forward on your chosen career path, always remember how proud the faculty and staff at the School of Health Sciences are of you and how deeply invested we are in your success,” said Dr. Steven Lorenzet, dean of the School of Health Sciences.

Maimonides Award Winners

Ever since her child was helped by an occupational therapist, Chaya Henig has dreamed of becoming an OT herself and giving back to others who are navigating similar challenges. “I knew that I couldn’t be the only parent who struggled with finding the right help for their child, so I was happy to share the research I’ve found along the way, and even created a platform filled with online resources, books, and OT practices that can enhance the level of care provided,” said Henig.

Currently working at the sensory gym where she completed her Touro fieldwork, Henig evaluates children for a wide range of skills including emotional/behavioral, cognitive, visual motor, fine motor, and gross motor skills and creates individualized treatment goals and plans for which she collaborates with parents.

“The Touro School of Health Sciences provided me with a rich educational foundation that I leverage daily. My dream is to run a private practice serving the pediatric and adult populations, and to continue to educate schools and parents about an array of sensory needs so that issues can be identified and addressed early on, which can have a positive impact on a child for their lifetime,” said Henig.

The other Maimonides award recipients were Christopher Auguste of the occupational therapy program; Jack Nowak and Jan Isaac Ortega of the physical therapy program; Alice Zinger of the speech and language pathology program; Hailey Sturek of the nursing program; Kurt Kaczmar of the physician assistant program; Yehudit Mokhtar of the Nassau University Medical Center physician assistant program; Zahava Hurwitz of the clinical mental health counseling program; Allison Maron of the industrial-organizational psychology program; and Kimberly Colichio—Pluhowski of the behavior analysis program.

Speakers Address an Energetic Crowd

Keynote speaker Dr. Dan Rootenberg, a Touro alum turned entrepreneur who co-founded SPEAR, a top physical therapy and occupational therapy practice, shared that his father had suddenly passed away from a brain aneurysm while in college. This tragic event forced him to grow up overnight, while his love for the sport of baseball and a positive mindset helped him through the aftermath. Eventually, he was accepted into Touro's physical therapy program and years later, he co-founded SPEAR, aiming to combine clinical excellence with great customer service.

“Understand the value and power of positive thinking, and always trust your intuition as a leader’s judgment and ability to make tough decisions are vital to your continued success. There is so much potential each of you holds in your head, your heart, and in your hands. Thousands of people will benefit from the skills you have. When you get your first job, remember to connect with the person in front of you before working on their diagnosis. Dream big, you literally can accomplish anything you put your mind to and are willing to sacrifice for,” said Dr. Rootenberg.

Ian Fraser, a student speaker representing the industrial-organizational psychology program, spoke about how all the graduates at the commencement ceremony share one commonality—"they’re all helpers.” We will soon be “entering fields that provide services meant specifically to help people, and it brings me incredible joy to see so many helpers gathered here and poised to make the world a better place,” Fraser said.