I am a graduate Occupational Therapy student at the University of New Hampshire. I received my undergraduate in Occupational Therapy, also at the University of New Hampshire, in 2016. My first experience with people with disabilities has been with my brother, who has Autism. Throughout our time growing up, I had high expectations for my brother and how the world treated him. Today, as he is entering adult life, I still hold him to high expectations and advocate that others do that same, while also advocating that he is provided the support to succeed in these expectations. At UNH, I participated in Magic Wheelchair, an organization that builds costumes for children who use wheelchairs for mobility. I was also part of the Student Occupational Therapy Association and The Pi Theta Epsilon Occupational Therapy Honors Society, which both advocated for and spread awareness of Occupational Therapy and people with disabilities around the community. Professionally, I have worked as a Direct Support Professional, specifically working with a young woman who had Autism practicing community skills. I have also held many roles with an organization for those with developmental disabilities aged 11-24. This organization’s goal is to provide a safe space for teens, tweens and young adults with disabilities to experience social, educational, and community experiences. For the past two summers I have run a summer camp, with this organization, which provides social and community activities to participants. I have also worked for their post-secondary education program, which provides students a full time residential and educational experience similar to attending a traditional college. During this program students practice independent living skills, learn how to be productive and safe community members, and develop vocational skills so that they can live independently in the community. I have recently begun working with their transition program for high school students in their 5th and 6th year, to develop independent living and vocational skills. All of these roles have forced me to develop and exhibit leadership skills as working with this population requires advocating , modeling and supporting participants to achieve success and independence.
My background is in healthcare and education. I started my career as a chair side dental assistant, in a private practice, and in a community health center. This is where I developed a passion for providing oral health services to medically underserved populations. Eventually I moved on to an educational environment in a medically underserved area in Lowell, MA at Middlesex Community College where I was the Dental Programs Clinical Operations Manager. I have also worked for the State of New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Medicaid Business and Policy, and Department of Public Health Services, as the Medicaid/CHIP Dental Benefits Administrator and Oral Health Program Coordinator. Currently, I am employed as a full-time faculty member in the Health Information Management Program at Manchester Community College. I am a 2010 graduate of the Institute on Disability, NH Leadership Series. I am motivated by helping others, and learning new skills. As the parent of a 26 year old with an intellectual disability, I often think about his future. I am particularly concerned about healthcare disparities within the intellectually and developmentally disabled community. I would like to see the development of a healthcare delivery system that is customized to the needs of the IDD community and provides a high standard of health, wellness resources, and oral health care services across the life span. I am also very interested in community living for adults with intellectual disabilities, and finding cooperative housing solutions that provide a high quality of life. I have earned a certificate in Dental Assisting and an Associate’s Degree in Health Science from NHTI-Concord’s Community College in 1993, a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Health Education from Granite State College in 2003, a Master’s Degree in Education in Adult Learning and Development from Plymouth State University in 2006, and a certificate in Health Information Management from Alabama State University in 2015. I look forward to being a part of the 2018 LEND Cohort!