Our university has paved the way in occupational therapy (OT) education, having launched the first Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program in the United States in 1964. Today, we remain an education leader via our 16-month Online Occupational Therapy Assistant program in California and Virginia.
Blending online coursework with hands-on skills labs and fieldwork, our OTA program comprises top-notch, passionate faculty who are instrumental in shaping the future of occupational therapy and ensuring our students are successful in their future careers.
Whether you’re enrolled in our occupational therapy assistant program in Virginia or California, you can rest assured you’re being taught and mentored by the best-of-the-best in OT education. Read on to learn how several of our online OTA program faculty fell in love with the OT profession.
Meet Diane Anderson, Associate Professor and OTA Program Coordinator
A career in occupational therapy was first suggested to Diane by her father, a Korean War veteran. Having spent a lot of time at the local veteran’s hospital and watching occupational therapists work their magic to help others, he came home one day telling her, “I found the profession for you.”
Before her career in academia, Diane worked in pediatrics, primarily tending to abused and/or neglected children. Her main objective was to work with parents and their children, teaching them how to interact and work together as a family. “To watch these families learn how to be loving to their children and understand what that meant—it was the greatest thing,” she says.
In academia for over 23 years now, Diana is continually inspired by the profession and her students. She especially loves watching it all come together for them—when they finally understand a concept and reach that “ah-ha” moment. “To identify those students who you know are going to be leaders in the field someday because of their passion and excitement for the profession, that’s what is so cool.”
Diane has a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy, a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in maternal and child health, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction involving family, youth and community education from the University of Minnesota.
Meet Rebecca Anderson, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator
As a child, Becky was exposed to several different types of therapies because her dad had Lupus. Initially, she wanted to be a doctor, but something didn’t feel right. She found occupational therapy to be a good career fit following a trip to the library where she read about the profession in a large book of medial descriptions. While she knew she wanted to help people, she was drawn to the fact that OT involves identifying adaptive and creative ways to help people with their independent living skills.
Before joining our university, Becky worked in neurodegenerative disorders, helping people with multiple sclerosis. One of her former clients, even though she hasn’t worked with him in a while, still sends her a Christmas card every year.
When Becky started working with this particular client, he had been living with multiple sclerosis for 25 years and was being cared for by his wife of over 50 years. While caring for him was getting tougher for her, the couple were destined to stay together in their home.
“When they came to me, it was as a last resort,” says Becky. “I was able to spend time listening and learning about what they needed and what was important to them.” From there, Becky worked with them to create a plan that allowed them both to be successful.
Fairly new to teaching, Becky loves the online format of our OTA program and how it gives busy individuals the flexibility and convenience to pursue their passion. She also enjoys being at the forefront of online occupational therapy education and introducing people to the often misunderstood profession. “I just love being a cheerleader for the profession,” she said.
Becky has a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Indiana University and a master’s degree in health science with a concentration in occupational therapy and neuroscience from the University of Indianapolis.
Meet Kathleen Matuska, Chair of the OT Department and Professor
Following in the career footsteps of her mother, who became an OT after World War II to help injured veterans, Kathleen was already smitten with the profession by the time it came to pursue a career.
During occupational therapy school, Kathleen had her mind set on pediatrics but her first experience working with older adults got her thinking differently. She has worked in a variety of different OT settings, from hospitals to long-term care facilities to schools.
“I am really passionate about helping people live meaningful, productive lives. While there are healthcare professions that work to heal the human body, OTs work to heal lives and make every day worth living,” she noted.
Her transition into academia was largely influenced by the great faculty she had in occupational therapy school. “I admired my professors and thought they were the best at what they did. In fact, it was always at the back of my mind that I wanted to be like them someday.”
Kathleen has a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy, a master’s degree in public health with a concentration in public health administration, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Minnesota.
As you can see, the OT faculty members at our university are passionate and dedicated to their careers. If you’re interested in earning an associate’s degree and joining the diverse, highly rewarding OTA profession in as few as 16 months, contact our admissions team today.