Scholarships: Empowering those with a vision to empower others

Cory Sessions, OTD/S ’18, has always been sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities. In middle school, his physical education class was joined with another class for students with special needs. “It was a great experience being with and learning from those kids. I felt comfortable around them and had fun in class,” Sessions remembers.

Sessions had similar experiences and interactions with people with disabilities throughout high school, which heightened his awareness of community accessibility. For his Eagle Scout service project, he decided to build a picnic table for a local park in his hometown of Clayton, California. “At the time, I knew nothing about woodworking or welding, but wanted to learn while demonstrating leadership to my troop,” Sessions says. “I talked the project idea over with my dad, who worked in local government. He suggested I make the picnic table ADA compliant, and I knew immediately that was what I was going to do.”

Sessions did the research, fundraising, planning and development needed to make the accessible picnic table a reality. “I found the compliance specifications online and designed the table so it would match the others ones in the park. I presented my project to the Boy Scouts of America and the necessary county offices and it was approved. Together with my troop, we built and installed the picnic table as planned.”

At the time, Sessions wasn’t familiar with occupational therapy (OT). As an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University in Idaho, he learned about the profession through volunteering. Those experiences landed Sessions a job with a local developmental disability agency. He helped clients achieve their activity-based goals in the community such as shopping or using the public library.

“Through the agency, I met a speech and language pathologist and shadowed her a couple times at her clinic. There, I met an occupational therapist and she helped me get a pediatric OT internship,” Sessions says. “My undergrad is in sociology, which studies how society as a whole affects the individual. Occupational therapy looks at how accessible that society is. All my life, I’ve had these experiences with people who want to participate in their communities. As a clinical doctoral student, I am learning how occupational therapy can facilitate that participation.”

Receiving a scholarship helped Sessions decide on Washington University School of Medicine. “This was the only graduate school that offered me a scholarship, and I am thankful for the opportunities it has given me,” he says. “I’m looking forward to developing my clinical and research skills while I’m here.”

Your donation to the Program in Occupational Therapy Scholarship Fund helps support future occupational therapists to impact the communities in which they serve. A gift to the Program fills an immediate need by lessening the debt burden on its students, allowing them to focus on their education and training. Donations also may be made in honor or
in memory of an individual.

Give online at through our website at

If you have any questions about Occupational Therapy Scholarship Fund, please contact Ashley Snyder in Medical Alumni and Development at 314-935-9686 or [email protected].

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