Student Spotlight: Kendra Roby, MSOT
“What most excites me about occupational therapy [OT] is that I can impact other people’s lives and help them participate in the things that are most important to them,” said Roby.
Kendra Roby, MSOT is in the Adult Functional Simulation Training Apartment Lab on the Manchester campus of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS), demonstrating how to use a piece of equipment to make everyday tasks, like doing laundry, possible for patients.
You can often find Roby here, collaborating with other students and her professors. Now in her final year of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program, Roby is passionate about her field and excited about the career path before her.
“What most excites me about occupational therapy [OT] is that I can impact other people’s lives and help them participate in the things that are most important to them,” said Roby. “I enjoy being able to help people participate in the activities that make them who they are.”
The inspiration for pursuing a future career as an occupational therapist started when she was just eight years old, when she saw the difference exceptional hospice care made to a family member.
“Watching how home hospice took such good care of them made me want to be there for people to support them through more difficult times,” said Roby. “It took me a while to learn about OT, but once I did, I knew it was the perfect way to assist other people’s loved ones, the same way someone had for me.”
Roby has served as the OT liaison for the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Campus Activities Board (CAB) and helped start the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) on the Manchester campus.
We wanted to hear more, so we asked Roby to share her insight with us.
What’s your dream career?
My dream career would be to work in pediatrics and be able to incorporate hippotherapy into my work. So I am very excited that my next long-term rotation will include both!
Tell us about the OT program at MCPHS.
We are small group of students and professors that are working together to learn and to grow the profession as a whole through mutual learning and advocating for OT.
Why did you choose to attend MCPHS?
I chose MCPHS because of the energy and excitement of the faculty and staff I met. I also loved the small-school feel of the Manchester campus and how the school encourages interprofessional opportunities that will benefit us in our work beyond school.
What do you like about the University’s location in Manchester?
I personally enjoy how close the Manchester campus is to home and to my family and friends. It also has good restaurants around that support the MCHPS community and make for an enjoyable and student-friendly community.
How do interprofessional education (IPE) and collaboration help empower future occupational therapists?
Being able to learn alongside others in the healthcare field has been amazing, because we can learn about each other and see how we can use one another to best care for our patients once we are practicing.
Is there a time when collaborating with students or faculty in other programs has enhanced your knowledge?
I would say my work through the SGA. Through the SGA, I’ve had the chance to hear what the other programs on campus are doing and to learn about the programs and conventions that are available around the country to support them. It’s given me a chance to better understand the issues that are most pressing for each program and see how they compare to what’s most important in the OT field.
What about IPE experiences?
We have had IPE opportunities where we get to talk to students in the other programs in small groups and go over how each of our programs addresses client care. This has been extremely beneficial – especially for a new program at MCPHS like OT – because it gives us the chance to explain our profession to others who may not quite know what OT is. For example, I was involved in a campus-wide open house for OT, where other students were invited into our adult and pediatric labs to discuss and try out some of the equipment to better understand who we are and what we do.
What are your classroom experiences like?
Because of the relationships our professors have made throughout their careers, we hear from unique speakers during class. These presentations give us opportunities to see many of the various paths we can take upon graduating from MCPHS. This program makes me want to continue to develop my skills and advocate for OT and the people we work with.
What is your favorite part of your program?
My favorite part of our program is creating bonds with my professors and classmates, who I know will continue to support me down the road.
Tell us about the facilities you use in your program.
We use our pediatric and adult labs to further practice what we have learned in classes. They help provide us with “real-life” ideas and situations and show us what it will be like working in the real world. The pediatric lab is my favorite and provides various swings and sensory options. We get to try out each tool and discuss how we could use it to best impact kids with various life challenges.
What are your professors like?
Our professors are very passionate about what they do. They are always busy working with us and those in our community to further develop our program. They have been great supporters and mentors.
How have they supported you?
As I was preparing to move to an unknown large city (as a small-town girl!) for my first long-term fieldwork rotation, my professors and other staff members were more than happy to help me find housing, and they gave me great contacts. They have also continued to support me as a leader and have provided me with guidance over the last two years.
They have encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone and try new things – for example, taking on the role of student speaker at Open House. I am so happy I listened to them, and I will continue to listen to their advice. I have found myself looking up to each of my professors and the staff in the OT department, and I value their advice.
What’s your advice for someone considering pursuing a future as an occupational therapist?
It is a phenomenal career path with many opportunities to explore. Take chances while you can, and be open to scary yet exciting opportunities that take you outside your comfort zone.
Tell us about your favorite #MCPHSmoment.
My very best memory was when I first set foot on the MCPHS campus for a tour. I got to meet and go on the tour with the two OT professors who started the whole program. From the moment I walked into the front doors of MCPHS, I felt nothing but pure excitement and energy from everyone I met, especially from Dr. Merrill and Dr. Simmons.
I am happy to say that I still feel that from them, and that they have been encouraging me ever since that day. I want to absorb their excitement and energy and bring it with me once I am a practicing occupational therapist.
In the full-time two-year Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program on the Manchester, NH, campus, students work alongside professional experts in advanced simulation laboratories and participate in a wide range of clinical experiences on and off campus.