Nov 21, 2023
Dmitriy Ivanov

Students Dante Bachini ’24 and Katy Cannistraro ’24 Present Research at Annual National Organization for Human Services Conference

The National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) Conference was held in Alexandria, Virginia, from November 10th through 13th, and Assumption students Katy Cannistraro ’24 and Dante Bachini ’24 both attended and presented their research relating to the field of human services. In addition, Katy Cannistraro ’24 was awarded the NOHS Outstanding Human Services Student Award.

NOHS is an organization with members involved in the human services as educators, professionals, practitioners, and students. The conference is held in order to connect those involved in the field to resources and conversations that will enrich their work. Workshops at the conference include research presentations, workshops on human services pedagogy, and best practices in the field. Many of the Assumption University faculty in the Human Services department are involved in the NOHS, including helping with the planning of the conference, as editorial members of the organization’s academic journal, and sitting on the Board of Directors.

“We have great participation in the NOHS. We are represented on the Board of Directors, as editorial staff on the Journal of Human Services, and at the conference itself,” said Cinzia Pica, Chair of the Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies department. “I am so proud of our students who are being highlighted at the national level. It speaks to their strengths as well as to the quality education and preparation they are engaged in both in our department and across our institution.”

“The conference is where everyone comes together and tries to look forward five years,” said Dante Bachini, a health sciences major with a focus on patient advocacy. “We ask questions like, ‘what are we doing now?’, ‘What’s the new research?’, ‘As a profession, are we moving forward to not only support our patients and clients, but each other?’, ‘How are we trying to maintain the highest ethical standards for our patients?’”

Bachini gave a presentation at the conference on the interviewing methods used by primary care physicians and their patients with chronic illness.

“In the chronic disease world, providers are unable to really get all the knowledge about what’s going on,” he said. “What we’re seeing is that the patient and provider are on separate thought processes and have different information understandings which create a large barrier to care.”

Bachini’s work is focused on how an interdisciplinary approach between human services strategies and clinical strategies can be used in clinical spaces to promote patient wellness.

“My research found that the human services field, though not focused on being a clinician, has key enduring strategies which promote the wellness of chronic disease patients,” he said. “These strategies include patients’ stories, their lived experience, and their knowledge into the picture. This informs the interventions the provider can use to create a better and more comprehensive care structure for their patients.”

Katy Cannistraro, a human services and rehabilitation studies major, gave a presentation on the gender gap in mental health.

“I started the research about a year ago in my psychiatric rehabilitation course,” she said. “I had noticed after looking at these mental illnesses that there was a recurring gap in the statistics between male and female prevalence rates. I wanted to figure out why this gap existed; my project looks at how gender roles affect our emotional expression and what we see as far as emotional disorders and help-seeking behaviors.”

On top of presenting her research, Cannistraro was also presented with the NOHS Outstanding Human Services Student Award, which is presented to one student member of NOHS who has “demonstrated a significant contribution to the field of human services during the time of his or her degree completion,” according to the NOHS website. The student who receives this award also then serves as the student member of the NOHS Board of Directors.

Katy Cannistraro '24 receives the NOHS Outstanding Human Services Student Award, with NOHS President James Stinchcomb and Professor Christian Williams.

“By no means had I ever defined myself as an ‘outstanding student,’” she said. “Professor [Christian] Williams (of the Human Services department) helped me realize that it’s not necessarily about my GPA, but about all the other work I do outside of that. Oftentimes, we emphasize the importance of having a high GPA and I understand that, it’s super important, but I think there are so many different aspects to a person that make them, I guess, ‘outstanding’.”

Along with her meaningful work on the gender gap in mental health services, Cannistraro is also a part of AU Allies, and has a large focus on advocating for students of the LGBTQ+ community on campus and has minors in both secondary education and women’s studies.

Bachini and Cannistraro both highlighted how meaningful it is for them to be involved with the human services department at Assumption and how it has shaped them as individuals.

“Not enough people know about the human services program,” said Cannistraro. “It has changed my life and the whole trajectory of what I want to pursue in the future. I am grateful for all of the professors…they’re extraordinary, and I don’t think they get recognized enough for all the hard work they do and their dedication to the students. It’s incredible.”

“Our department makes you a unique candidate for grad school or the workforce because it blends together your strengths that you may not be aware of,” said Bachini. “It makes you want to reach out, makes you able to reach out, and I think that’s a really unique trait to our program and speaks volumes to the level and type of practitioner Assumption is creating.”

Pica believes that the futures of the human services department at Assumption and the future of the field of human services itself are bright.

“I’m thrilled because I see that we have several students who are both accomplished in terms of academics but also because of their service to our profession,” said Pica. “This emphasizes the quality of students and young, aspiring professionals that we have amongst our ranks.”