Two Alumni to be Honored at College of Health Sciences Hall of Fame & Young Alumni Award Celebration

By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 9, 2022) — A social entrepreneur and author whose goal is a world where no child is an orphan. And a PhD researcher who focuses on muscle health and physical function in patients with critical illness.

Meet Iza Correll, PA-C, COC, CEO and founder of OVI Healthcare; and Kirby Mayer, DPT, PhD and assistant professor of Physical Therapy at UK.   

Both are graduates of the University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences, and both will be honored for their extraordinary careers — Correll with an induction into the College Hall of Fame, and Mayer with the Young Alumni Award. Both will be in attendance to receive their honors at the College of Health Sciences Hall of Fame & Young Alumni Award Celebration at 5:30 p.m., Feb. 24, at The Campbell House.

Correll, a 2017 Physician Assistant Studies graduate, founded OVI Healthcare just after her graduation to transform the health, happiness and security of children. She was deeply affected by the death of her 4-year-old nephew Ovidio (known as Ovi), an orphan in Guatemala who was in the process of being adopted by Correll’s sister, and this tragedy inspired Correll to start the charity in his name. Today, she and her team run the charity from the OVI Children’s Hospital in Kenya. 

Her vision then and now is a world where no child is alone. She says she knows what works and sees it working every day. The next step is introducing the approach across Africa and Asia to end the orphan crisis and prevent poverty. 

A native of Somerset, Ky., Correll is an internationally acclaimed social entrepreneur, a dually licensed U.S. Physician Assistant and Kenyan Clinical Officer, a bestselling author, and the youngest-ever recipient of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Global Citizenship (among fellow laureates U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Michael J. Fox and Christina Aguilera).

Correll said she was surprised when she was notified of the award.

“I’m excited and honored. It definitely came as a complete and total shock,” Correll said. “I remember that getting into (PA) school was the biggest thing in the world, and I want everyone to see that you can follow your dreams, even if they scare you. All my professors played a huge role in getting me here to train in Kenya and to have these opportunities. Dr. (Somu) Chattergee always believed in me, even if — initially — I didn’t perform as well as I wanted in his class.” She laughed as she thought about the memory. “There are so many worthy people out there who deserve an award like this. It’s wild to think about.”

Also from just outside Somerset, Mayer received his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Kentucky’s Center for Excellence in Rural Health in Hazard in 2014. After practicing as a staff physical therapist at Chandler Medical, he returned to school and completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Kentucky in 2019. Dr. Mayer received his Ph.D. in Rehabilitation and Health Sciences with a focus on muscle health and physical function in patients with and surviving critical illness. Dr. Mayer is also a clinician and researcher in the ICU Recovery Clinic at the University of Kentucky.

In his personal life, Mayer enjoys spending time with his wife and twin boys. He is an avid UK sports fan and enjoys being outdoors. Mayer also wanted to make sure that everyone knows he did not achieve this award on his own. There were countless colleagues, mentors, co-workers and students who helped him along the way, and he thanks them all, he said, from the bottom of his heart.

“Everything I’ve ever done, I’ve always been a part of a team, and I share this with all of those people who helped me,” Mayer said. “I’m really, really fortunate to work in this environment. I have to acknowledge that I have had some amazing mentors, and there are so many senior scientists and professionals in our College who are willing to advocate for young professionals. I think it speaks to what the College is all about. And now that I’m in this role, I can be a mentor for students, too.”

The event will be held at The Campbell House, and will start at 5:30 p.m. A short program will take place, followed by a cocktail reception.

For formal invite and RSVP details, please visit here.

“Being able to honor these two amazing award recipients just showcases the kind of talent produced by the programs in the College of Health Sciences,” said Scott Lephart, PhD, and Dean of the College. “Our Young Alumni recipient has been trained here, and he is continuing to help our community as a clinician and a professor to the next generation of healthcare providers. Our Hall of Fame recipient has dedicated her life to helping children halfway around the world. Every day, these two are living the mission of the College, and they are role models for us all. I could not be prouder of these wonderful alumni.”

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.