After graduating from Delaware Valley Friends School in 2008, Emily attended Elizabethtown College for 2 years - completing the prerequisites for a three-year combined Bachelor’s and Master’s program in occupational therapy at Jefferson University, from which she graduated in 2013. Emily currently practices in a sub-acute rehabilitation center in Philadelphia where she works with older adults on all aspects of functional therapy. Ultimately, Emily would like to pursue her doctorate in occupational therapy and teach. Emily returned to DVFS in December 2015 to share her educational and work experience during a career mentoring program for seniors.
When did you come to DVFS and from what type of school?
I started at DV in 9th grade and came from the Crossroads School, which was another school for students with learning differences.
Can you tell us a little bit about your learning difference and what your struggles were in school?
My primary learning difference is dysgraphia. I really struggle with writing.
What changed for you when you came to DVFS?
The small class sizes helped, and certain teachers really went out of their way to help me. Sandy Clayton and Bill Keeney in particular encouraged a way of learning that helped me to be successful in college. I also appreciated that creativity was emphasized in the students and curriculum.
Were there specific tools or strategies that you learned at DVFS that were game-changers in your educational journey?
The most important was the use of laptops at DV. The computers were really helpful - writing on the computer allowed me to just learn without worrying about my LD. My learning difference didn’t hold me back at DVFS because I was able to use the computer for everything in school and I didn’t have difficulty doing homework, tests or papers. In my OT practice now, I continue to use computerized documentation.
Do you have any other special memories of your time at DVFS?
I played soccer, served on the Oversight Committee in student government, and really enjoyed the ABLE program. I did rock climbing as my ABLE elective and it helped me with building relationships and learning to trust others.
How does your experience at DVFS connect to your life today?
With OT, I help people to do things they can’t do as they are right now because of an injury or illness. I help them learn to adapt or teach them new skills so that they can live their lives better and more independently. I believe this is directly related to me having a learning difference growing up. I had to learn to adapt and learn new skills to do what I needed to do in school. That experience helps me to relate to what my patients are going through.
How did you become interested in Occupational Therapy?
When I was 14, my dad took me to a program about occupational therapy where he worked at the Salvation Army. It changed my life and I spent my whole high school career preparing to become an OT. I took science and math all four years at DVFS to get ready - which was beyond the requirements for graduation. DV helped prepare me for my career both with science and math and with learning how to learn even with my LD.
What do you think the lasting value of your DVFS education has been?
DVFS helped me to know what to advocate for in college: what accommodations I would need to be successful and reach the potential I knew I was capable of achieving.