Kai Hobbs ’23
Growing up, Kai Hobbs ’23 saw several family members suffer from respiratory issues. So when Kai excelled in the sciences in high school, things clicked into place: Why not put those skills to use and help others suffering from similar challenges?
That’s exactly what this Honors Program student has done at UHart and will continue doing. Kai studied respiratory care at UHart’s College of Education, Nursing, and Health Professions, and will head to Hartford Hospital as a respiratory therapist after graduation.
Coursework in the UHart program was extensive, but hands-on experience came quickly sophomore year, thanks to the University’s relationships with local health-care partners. By graduation, Kai will have completed six clinical rotations at hospitals across Connecticut, including Hartford Hospital, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Connecticut Children's Hospital, Danbury Hospital, and Gaylord Hospital.
The real-world, immersive experience cemented their passion for the field of respiratory care, and created a connection with Hartford Hospital—which led to a job offer long before graduation.
“I spent three semesters at Hartford Hospital during which time I not only fell in love with the hospital, but I was able to demonstrate my work to them. So they were confident offering me a position,” Kai says.
As an honors student, they wrote a senior honors thesis entitled Improving the Cultural Competence of Healthcare Providers in Serving Transgender Patients. The thesis took about a year and a half's worth of research on health disparities faced by the transgender population, as well as ways to improve the cultural competency of healthcare providers.
“This sparked an interest in health advocacy and is the reason why I plan to pursue a master's degree after working for several years. I will have the opportunity to grow in my clinical knowledge, begin advocating for underrepresented groups in healthcare, and pursue higher education,” Kai adds.
Professor Karen Griffiths, Kai’s faculty and thesis advisor, and program director, continues to connect Kai with additional professionals and opportunities related to the field of respiratory care. Honors Program advisor Claudia Oaks and Professor Diane Verrochi also provided valuable information about the field of LGBTQ+ health and thesis publishing opportunities.
“The professional connections I made at UHart are unmatched. I was able to connect with respiratory therapists and clinical program directors all across the state,” says Kai.
But the best part about UHart? Kai quickly answers that it’s the people, sharing, “The students give UHart life, and the faculty are incredible resources for young professionals. I found my best friends here, and the professional connections I made set me up for success in my field.”
They also advise new students to feel confident in pursuing a new direction if change is needed, and to avoid giving up when things get hard.
“Sometimes you have a very clear picture of what your next steps are going to look like,” Kai says, “So it's important to keep an open mind as you grow throughout your time here and your priorities change.”
Kai Hobbs '23, College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions
The professional connections I made at UHart are unmatched. I was able to connect with respiratory therapists and clinical program directors all across the state.