Kiley Adams, a 2023 Pisacano Scholar, is a 4th-year medical student at the University of Michigan, where she also completed a Master’s in Sustainability and Development. She graduated from Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Science in biological studies. Despite her proclivity for Midwestern centers of higher education, she proudly calls the mountains of Washington and Southeast Alaska home.
Though kept busy at Notre Dame as a Sorin Scholar, varsity soccer athlete, and World Taekwondo Federation fourth-degree black belt, Kiley’s true passion was in working for and with people with disabilities. She volunteered with Special Olympics, served as a mentor and tutor to local youth on the autism spectrum, and spent her summers in India volunteering and researching at the Vidya Sagar School for the Disabled.
After graduating, Kiley was selected as a Fulbright research fellow. She returned to India to study community-based healthcare for individuals with disabilities living in rural communities. Her work there ultimately increased participation in rural disability programming and gained attention from the World Health Organization and U.S. Department of State. Also, noticing a lack of diversity in outdoor spaces and recreation opportunities, Kiley partnered with a local NGO, Adventures Beyond Barriers, to organize inclusive outdoor activities for people with disabilities that continue today. Her work garnered widespread community attention and gave her the opportunity to deliver a TED Talk at India’s largest venue.
She made the illogical geographic decision to move from India to Alaska to continue work surrounding accessible recreation. Kiley worked with Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL) doing accessible hiking, biking, kayaking, and skiing with people with disabilities before pursuing her medical career, as a Dean’s Scholar, at the University of Michigan.
While at medical school, Kiley continued her work with SAIL. Her research on SAIL’s Youth Employment in Parks (YEP) program, a vocational program that employs teens with disabilities in Juneau as local trail crew workers, has been presented at multiple medical conferences. She further embraced her commitment to community accessibility by securing multiple grants to purchase off-terrain trail wheelchairs for use on unpaved nature trails for people with mobility needs. Partnering with local, county, and state parks, Kiley single-handedly started the first free, community-wide trail chair rental program in Michigan. The popularity of the trail wheelchair program has led Kiley to collaborate with park managers across the country about starting their own programs.
Lastly, Kiley’s interests at the intersection of human and ecosystem health led her to both pursue a Master’s in Sustainability and Development and work as a Dow Sustainability Fellow.
Kiley is excited to call family medicine home and hopes to have a career which uplifts community-wide health in rural, Nordic, and Indigenous communities.