2019 VOTA Award Winners
VOTA OT WINNER
I will always attribute my path to Occupational Therapy to my mother, whose selfless, determined and completely triumphant attitude has been the greatest example of how I want to achieve my goals. She is not an Occupational Therapist, nor is she a college graduate. I want to ignite that eagerness to learn in others, I also have a strong ability to empathize. In working with an individual who may not always be able to communicate their wants and needs directly, or even at all, requires connecting to that person in a way that lets them know they are heard. I worked with an older adult that has Multiple Sclerosis. This person was actually an OT for a long time, so getting to hear about her life experiences and witness firsthand her resiliency is truly inspirational for an aspiring OT.
VOTA CENTENNIAL WINNER
I am proud to be pursuing my degree in OT because it supports health in a way that can be overlooked; it focuses on engaging the mind, body, and spirit of an individual to enhance participation in meaningful occupations. Through a multitude of health care and community-based experiences, I decided to pursue OT because my compassion for others matches my dedication to promoting the fullness of life for all. I collaborate with health programs at VCU to provide public health education and services to those in the Richmond community. This organization has become integral to my involvement in community service projects. I have always been interested in public and global health and how to become a more globally connected citizen. I have been selected to attend a medical relief trip to Zana, Peru in June. I look forward to advocating for the profession's unique value while providing culturally competent interventions to the residents of Zana.
BARBARA HOWARD WINNER
I learned to choose Occupational Therapy from my uncle and grandfather who struggled with Parkinson's Disease. I have also had invaluable experiences in the inpatient setting, working as a rehabilitation tech at Sheltering Arms. I also have experience in care giving and coaching with Special Olympics. On one of my teams I saw one of my athletes sobbing in tears. I immediately rushed over to her and asked if she was alright, yet due to her being nonverbal, she could only stutter sounds. Suddenly, her mother appeared and said to me, "Don't worry, she's perfect. When life is just too awesome, she cries>" In that moment I know I was making a difference and an impact on her life though taking time to volunteer with this incredible organization. I strive to be the best that I can be in every situation that arises. I am eager to continue being a leader, expand my knowledge and touch as many people’s lives as I can while I am engrossed in this program and the communities within.
AWARD OF MERIT EDUCATOR
Al has been practicing for 37 years, 22 at VCU and department chair since 2009. He received the AOTA Roster of Fellows in 2011 and was recipient of the AOTA's Cordielia Myers Writer's Award. Students describe his teaching as "vital to their understanding of Occupational Therapy and they consistently reference his kind, compassionate nature. Al is methodical, quiet, humble leader who often surprises the faculty with insight and wit. He has consistently shared his knowledge with others and has served as a model and mentor promoting lifelong learning.
AWARD OF MERIT CLINICIAN
Lauren Carter Smith
(Bon Secours Mercy Health Richmond and Brain Injury Association of Virginia)
Enough cannot be said about what Lauren does for the OT community! She inspires all around her to do me, be more and be the best OT's. She has and leads the AOTA clinical instructor certification course in Virginia. She is a long-term supporter of VOTA, through membership, districts and recruitment for vacant spots. She has been a lecturer and lab instructor at VCU, as well as presenting at VOTA conferences. She manages all students, consistently mentors and embodies hoe a clinical instructor should guide students, especially those struggling in fieldwork. She has been a brain injury camp developer and leader. She daily mentors other with her knowledge, while demonstrating daily her best in her practice.