2021 VOTA Award Winners
VOTA OT WINNERS
I had the pleasure to work as an occupational therapist in my native country, Peru. I have been working very hard for several years here in my new country, the United States, to revalidate my foreign credentials and be proficient in the language to be able to work again as an Occupational Therapist. I started taking ESOL classes at the beginning and then several prerequisites to be able to apply to a master program, and I was accepted into a Master program in Occupational Therapy at Shenandoah University! It has not been easy to work full-time and study full-time, all while raising two young children, but yes! It is possible! During these years I also have the opportunity to support and serve my community in different ways such as providing education for families and parents who have an uninsured family member with special needs, disability, or at risk of developing this and connecting them with resources in our community. Moreover, as one of my professors stated in one of his comments “your peers do recognize your experience...they are grateful to have your perspective in our group” with this comment, I know that I have a responsibility not only to continue learning to become a better OT practitioners but to serve as a role model for other future professionals.
(Radford University Carilion)
It is a rare situation to hear multiple people in a single profession give such positive and high regards towards their line of work. However, in my life, I have had just that. Growing up, I was surrounded by occupational therapy practitioners in my own family, all working in different settings, and what I love is that the response I got was always the same: "I honestly love what I do". And I believe it is because of the mindset of what they get to do. It is the backseat position that OT's do that highlights the individual client and their own goals, amidst their context and environments. It is the foreknowledge that what OT's are working on with a client is meaningful to them, therefore making it a joy to see achieved along the therapeutic way. It is the relationships built with clients who started as strangers. It is the underserved groups overseas who are being advocated for and now receive proper care and adaptive equipment for the first time. All are moving parts within occupational therapy, and all are at work changing lives in the here and now. I consider myself grateful to be where I am in life now, working towards becoming a part of such a life-giving profession as occupational therapy!
VOTA CENTENNIAL WINNER
(Radford University Carilion)
When I first learned about occupational therapy, I knew that it was a career path I wanted to explore given its holistic, client-centered nature. Since starting OT school, I have continued to be amazed and am excited to join a field where individuals are seen, heard, and valued. In 2013 following my spinal-fusion surgery, I caught a glimpse of how future clients may feel and I knew that a career built on compassion, health, well-being, and quality of life was for me. To be able to be there for someone when they may be at their most vulnerable point in life, is a privilege. I want to help pave the way for future OTs behind me and am aware there is always room for advancements, advocacy, and growth both for myself and for the profession as a whole. I know that the future is bright for the field of occupational therapy, and I am excited to be a part of it.
BARBARA HOWARD WINNER
(James Madison University)
Honestly, I did not know what occupational therapy was until a few years after I graduated college and I was exploring careers that were more patient centered. Occupational therapy is exciting to me because it encompasses anatomy, psychology, neurology, physiology, and many other disciplines and I can use my scientific skills, critical thinking, and creativity, and be able to work directly with patients and other members of the patient’s team. Helping others has always been a joy and privilege for me, and I am eager to pursue a career that is focused on helping patients live their lives to the fullest and be able to complete the daily tasks of living they enjoy.
OTA/OT PARTNERSHIP AWARD
Heather Daniels, COTA/L and Margaret Denvir, OTR/L
(Norfolk Public Schools)
As individuals, they are deeply committed to advancing evidence-based practice in their school division, supporting the creation and enhancement of capacity within school teams, and serving as role models and leaders among their colleagues both within and beyond our discipline. What is particularly remarkable about Heather and Maggie, however, is their deeply collaborative and respect-filled relationship that they nurture with one another. This relationship has not only enabled them to advance their own practice and improve the outcomes for students that they serve, but it has also been a conduit to serve their care/educational teams.