Future Leader: Grace Hurley, OTD/S ʼ24

Name: Grace Hurley, OTD/S ʼ24
Hometown: Holland, MI
Undergraduate degree: BS in Biology from Belmont University
WUSOTA Assembly of Student Delegates Committee Chair, WU-COTAD Big Siblings Program Lesson Planning Chair, Doctoral lab student

What are your meaningful occupations?
My most meaningful occupations have a creative element. Whether this is crocheting, painting or cross-stitching, I enjoy harnessing my creativity in new and challenging ways. Additionally, I find it rewarding to contribute to the community by volunteering at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital and implementing a mentorship program at a local high school. I also love exploring St. Louis with my friends and playing board games.

What is your definition of occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy provides clients across the lifespan the necessary tools and support to participate in the everyday activities they need and want to do through a collaborative, client-centered lens. Effective occupational therapists use their expertise and compassion to empower their clients, advocating with them rather than for them. The unique skills occupational therapy brings allow clients to reach their personal goals to achieve higher quality of life and well-being.

Why did you choose the OTD degree?
I chose to pursue an OTD degree because of my desire to create innovative and evidence-based interventions and programs for underserved populations. I have always felt drawn to the research process. The doctoral lab opportunity excited me, as it provided the perfect avenue to gain research skills and dive deeper into specific populations. Overall, the skills I’ve gained during the OTD program have prepared me to pursue a nontraditional career path post-graduation.

What are your career goals?
Once I finish my OTD degree, I hope to work with medically complex pediatric and young adult populations. Additionally, I hope to pursue a PhD in rehabilitation and participation science to pursue research projects related to chronic illness management to increase well-being, occupational performance and participation in adolescent and young adult populations.

What WashU experience stands out to you?
My most memorable experience at WashU has been my involvement in Dr. Allison King’s Child Health and Education Laboratory. The lab’s research team has made me feel valued and created a space where I can share my ideas, receive feedback and learn from their expertise. As a team, we aim to research the feasibility and acceptability of a cognitive intervention, the ADAPT-SCD Metacognitive Strategy Training Program, with teenagers and young adults with sickle cell disease. I have gained experience implementing client-centered interventions and fostering therapeutic relationships. Additionally, under Dr. King’s mentorship, I worked to submit a research proposal of our findings to the
AOTA conference.

Anything else you would like us to know?
I want to thank my parents, grandparents, professors, mentors and friends for supporting me and challenging me to pursue my interests and passions. Throughout my time in the Program, I have grown both professionally and personally, and I look forward to pursuing a career in occupational therapy with the skills I have gained.



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We are excited that you are considering applying to the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University. Please join us for a Zoom Information Session for either our entry-level MSOT or OTD degrees or our online post-professional OTD. Current faculty members will discuss the Program and answer  any question you may have. We are offering these sessions on the following days and times. The content is the same for each one, so you only need to sign up for one.

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