It’s never too late to change careers. Just ask Carrie Minault, a 52 year old mother, educator, and volunteer who is now a student of St. Catherine’s Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program. She just started her journey toward a new career as an OTA through St. Catherine, also known as St. Kate’s, 16-month Online OTA program.
Just weeks before she started the program, she shared her excitement about starting this new chapter. Because in her mind, there is no age limit on following your passion.
Q: What was your life and career like before you enrolled in St. Kate’s OTA program?
A: I have lived in Alameda, California for the past 18 years with my seven children who range in age from 12-28. I worked as a foster provider for two mentally and physically challenged children (who became adults while in my care) for 13 years. When I moved to California, I volunteered in my community and in the children’s schools. In 2012, I participated in vocational interest and aptitude testing where I found out one of the professions that was recommended for me was Occupational Therapy Assistant. I had not heard about that profession before, although my sister, who lives in North Carolina, is an OT. At that time there wasn’t a program in my area, so I put the OTA thing on the back burner and began working in the local school district as a Paraprofessional in Special Education. For the past two years I have worked in an Autism specific classroom with middle school students.
Q: What made you become interested in OT and becoming an OTA?
A: It was after I began working with my current group of students that my interest in the OTA program really began to take shape. That’s when I discovered that there was an online OTA program through St. Catherine University.
I work with students with moderate to severe Autism Spectrum Disorder and there are so many aspects to working with these students where occupational therapy comes into play. Some of the students have issues with functional things, like writing, while others have sensory issues. All of our students have issues with communication so we used occupational therapy in our daily routines and I imagined there were so many ways OT could help them even further.
Q: Why did you want to change career paths now?
A: I realized that going through the OTA program would allow me to use my interests and love of these students. I could continue to do work that I really enjoy and actually be able to make a living. Unfortunately, working within the school district as a Paraprofessional does not pay a living wage. I have three children at home and one in college and I’m a single mom living in one of the most expensive areas in the country. The OTA program sounds very interesting and is a relatively quick program – so it’s a perfect fit.
Q: What got you from just thinking about becoming an OTA to taking the first step to apply?
A: I started to look into St Kate’s OTA program last summer. My sister knew that I was interested in occupational therapy but knew I had to find a program that wouldn’t take years to finish. I did some research and found St Kate’s OTA program. It seemed like the perfect fit. After looking into it more there didn’t seem to be any reason to delay any further and I jumped right in.
The main reason I decided to jump in so quickly was that I knew that there would always be a reason to delay it. I could see looking back in a year and saying that I could have been a year into the program. I may not get done as quickly as some others, but I will be moving forward and that is a big thing.
Q: What is the best part of changing careers at this stage in your life?
A: I think it’s a very important message to send to my children that I can start something new at the age that I am. You are never too old to learn and change careers. I think it’s important for kids to see that adults don’t have to be stuck in one career path. It’s never too late to do something that you love. It’s also important for me to instill a sense of values in my children and so they are aware of what is truly important to me, like helping others, and how I can make a career out of it. It’s pretty cool.
Q: What are you most nervous about?
A: What I am most nervous about is just being able to keep up and do everything at once. There will be a time when I will have to “school” full time and being the sole breadwinner for my kids, that is challenging. But I have a lot of support from my family and friends though so I am hopeful.
It’s never too late to change your career path. If you are interested in learning more about St. Kate’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program, contact an advisor today.