2020 VOTA Award Winners


Cara Harmann 

Ever since my first day shadowing an Occupational Therapist at a local middle school, when I was only 18 years old, I was hooked. Occupational Therapy to me is more than just helping individuals learn to do everyday tasks again; it is giving individuals and their families the hope they need to live as much of a normal life as possible and be happy, no matter what life has thrown at them. Occupational Therapy gives me the opportunity to serve my community and help others in need to be independent in their everyday lives and get back to activities or tasks that are truly important to them. It is the perfect fit for me.


Molly Gupta

I chose Occupational Therapy as a career because of my fascination and inspiration of the indomitable nature of the human spirit and resiliency when faced with adversity. I feel great purpose and responsibility in joining the most vulnerable on their journey to wellness and healing though meaningful occupations. I created a “Culture Corner” section for the OT student newspaper to highlight rituals and routines celebrate by different ethnic or religious groups around the world, sometimes from the perspectives of current students.


Rashida Idris

I cannot really say that I chose to be an Occupational Therapist. Through life experiences, OT found me, starting with my daughter needing help to grow and develop. I always gravitated toward the OT sessions with her. During this 14-year journey, Occupational Therapists have been the glue cementing all the thoughts, theories and loose threads into a concrete plan of care. It has been said imitation is the highest form of flattery. I knew that I had to pursue a career in this amazing field and be that cementing glue for another family.


Kaitlyn Apple
(Mary Baldwin)

In my life “two pivotal events took place.” I fractured my ankle before gymnastic competition and my great grandmother suffered from a stroke. While these two instances were drastically different, they both left me with a desire to explore a career in healthcare. I fell in love with the dynamic, creative and interpersonal nature of Occupational Therapy. A “bucket list” goal of mine would be to use my OT knowledge on a personal and direct basis to benefit other countries that may not have the same opportunities or readily available services that are provided in the United States, either through another organization or via a non-profit organization of my own.


Jaclyn Colton

My favorite part about teaching was looking at my children as individuals, their strengths and weaknesses, and constructing personalized lesson plans. I fit the lesson to the child, not the child to the lesson. I wished that I could find a profession that allowed me to work this holistically and creatively. My friends with children served by Occupational Therapist shared their experiences with me. I realized this was what I had been looking for. They were seeing professionals that combined healthcare, science, family studies and art. Most of all, they were providing care that was individualized for the client. I am always looking for new experiences and challenges, which is another reason I am so drawn to Occupational Therapy. The field is so broad that a therapist can learn throughout their career.


Carole Ivey

Carole has always been an incredible professor, but the past year has shown what a truly incredible person she is. She has used her Occupational Therapy skills to create normalcy for students in a midst of a pandemic, taken on every role asked or needed of her, and gone above and beyond to support students and staff through endless changes. She is so deserving of this award for the impact she has made on the next generation of Occupational Therapists, as well as the hard work and dedication she gives to all her many roles and responsibilities.


Paula K. Martin
(Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services)

In the past 6 years of awards, no person has had so many people invested in gaining recognition for this award winner. Although the committee cannot review more than 2 letters of support per candidate, this person had 6 or more letters to acknowledge the skills and passion for Occupational Therapy.

Here are a few words from her letters of support…

“ Her passion and advocacy for the field of Occupational Therapy has contributed to development of new roles and positions around the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as setting the stage for new opportunities across the nation.”

“ She is a constant cheerleader for Occupational Therapy, and never misses an opportunity to promote our profession.”

“ She has a strong faith, a welcoming disposition, and a smile that warms your heart. She loves her profession, promotes it and is always striving to make positive changes in the lives of individuals with disabilities.

5101 Monument Avenue | Richmond | VA | 23230
T: (804) 523-2911
F: (804) 288-3551

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