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In a country as richly diverse as ours, you may be surprised to learn that a large segment of our population is virtually overlooked in medical classrooms. Without training, graduates are left ill-equipped to provide proper care for these unique and often misunderstood individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Enter Karlyn Emile, DHSc, MPH, CHES ’05, ’11, one FIU alumna creating a world of change right here in South Florida.

“I never dreamed that this line of work would become my passion, but I thank God that it did. I could not have chosen a better group of individuals to serve,” Karlyn says.

As the Director of Special Olympics Healthy Community South Florida, Karlyn is committed to providing education and care for the vulnerable, underserved IDD population. “Individuals with IDD receive disproportionately lower standards of care,” she says, “They require an individualized approach to healthcare that focuses on the most prevalent health issues that they face.”

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                                                   Karlyn and Healthy Community interns from FIU

Her warmth, love and compassion have continued to inspire – over 70 FIU students have interned with her at Healthy Community, a practicum affiliated site! Many of her interns write follow-up guest posts on Karlyn’s blog, discussing how rewarding and life-changing their experiences have been.

Beyond providing invaluable internship opportunities, Karlyn also visits during Panther Alumni Week, serves on the host committee for The Path Awards and, together with Healthy Community, Karlyn has hosted the Spring into Wellness Health Fair at FIU.

Karlyn discovered her passion for health education and teaching during her time at FIU’s Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work. Observing her female instructors, especially those with a similar ethnic background, became a major source of inspiration for Karlyn. “Some of my professors even took it upon themselves to take me under their wings and mentor me,” Karlyn says, “Their influence was a great confidence booster.”

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For Karlyn, the highlight of her experience as an FIU student was an independent study internship with Dr. Pilar Martin. During this time, Karlyn made some incredible strides, including seven medical trips around Haiti establishing temporary clinics and providing primary care and health education. While there, she also conducted research and community health assessments.

These Panthers travel in a pack: Karlyn’s sister, Marie Aime ’99; two brothers-in-law Esaie Aime, DPT ’01 and Ansler Titus ’02; and her niece, Alisha Cox ‘15 join Karlyn as FIU alumni. Additionally, two more of Karlyn’s family members are current FIU students! As an undergraduate, Karlyn received the FIU Alumni Association Legacy Scholarship, which she says helped to “offset tuition and other college related expenses, such as books and transportation.”

Panther Pride runs deep in Karlyn’s family. “Sharing my alma mater with my family certainly brings us closer. We often debate over whom is a bigger Panther fan and most of us proudly display the FIU license plate on our cars,” says Karlyn. “All of us have been able to accomplish our career goals because of the valuable education that was gained right here at home, at FIU.”

I spent many years on the FIU grounds,” Karlyn says, “I did a lot of soul searching and found that I wanted to do great things in my community.”

Thank you, Karlyn. You’ve taken our community Worlds Ahead, and we know you’re not finished yet.

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