CHS Welcomes New Hall of Fame, Young Alumni Award Winners

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

“UK, and the College of Health Sciences, are ready to hear what you have to say.”

“I was challenged to be the best version of myself.”

“My professors saw that I had — and I have — something to give.”

“They let me ask ‘Why?’”

“They gave me the freedom to explore opportunities.”

The quotes are almost interchangeable. The common thread? The University of Kentucky and the College of Health Sciences allowed — and helped — Katelyn McNamara, PT, DPT, and Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, to become who they wanted to be.

And they were honored Wednesday night at The Campbell House as the new CHS Hall of Fame inductee, and new Young Alumni Award Winner.

McNamara, the Young Alumni Award winner, is a Pediatric Physical Therapist at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville. A 2016 graduate from the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, she was diagnosed with a rare form a cancer in 2021 — primary mediastinal large b-cell lymphoma (PMBCL). For the next seven months she fought off the disease, and chronicled her journey on her Caring Bridge Journal: She even shared her story with classes here in CHS.

Now, healthy and thankful, she is working again, and she says she takes particular joy in this recent CHS honor.

“I want to use this as a ticket to walk down memory lane — it’s rare these roads are solitary,” she said Wednesday night. “I want to take this opportunity to be a mirror and reflect back all the support that made this possible.”

McNamara said she was challenged and encouraged while in the College of Health Sciences, and it helped her become the person and professional she is today.

“Not only did they see that I had something to learn, they also saw that I had — and have — something to give,” she said. “Teaching a student to spread their wings, instead of clipping them, is so important. Thank you for letting me be me. I’m eternally grateful.”

Kinder is a two-time graduate of Communication Sciences and Disorders, earning her bachelor’s degree in 2003 and her master’s in 2005. Now she serves as the executive vice president of clinical services at Broad River Rehab, based in Asheville, N.C.

She credits the College for teaching her — and then allowing her — to always ask, ‘Why?’

“Asking why has helped me be successful,” she said Wednesday night, before giving a few examples, including asking:

  • Why couldn’t she go into work on her maternity leave? (She did, after seven days, and with the help of her family she was able to continue to be productive).
  • Why was she not accepted to speak at a National convention? (After learning why, she made corrections to her presentation, and was accepted for seven speaking engagements the following year).
  • Why there wasn’t a certain course in CHS? (There is now — and Kinder teaches it).

Kinder said receiving the Hall of Fame Award made her want to work even harder.

“At the end of the day, it’s about quality of care,” she said. “I was able to speak with my professors and ask questions. I got a foundational knowledge and the freedom to explore other opportunities.

“Thank you for this honor,” she said.

Also present Wednesday night was 2019 Young Alumni Award winner Lieutenant Colonel-P Enrique Smith-Forbes, PhD, OTR/L, CHT, who has four academic degrees, including a PhD from the Rehabilitation Sciences Doctoral Program.

LTC Smith-Forbes currently serves as the Associate Professor and founding Program Director of the United States Army Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program at MEDCoE.

“Congratulations, again, to our recipients,” said Scott Lephart, PhD, and Dean of the College of Health Sciences. “These are wonderful examples of the talent produced in this College. Every day, they are living our mission, and they are role models for us all.”