Paying it Forward
“Make sure you do what you love,” says New York Tech student Alicia Terry Jones, quoting her mother. A student in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, Terry Jones takes her mother’s words to heart as she pursues this allied health profession, eager to fulfill her desire to “give a person’s life back” and assist her future patients in “living life in a new way.”
The School of Health Professions student didn’t always know this was the path she would take. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a postbaccalaureate certificate in business, Terry Jones’ interest in occupational therapy (OT) didn’t develop until her mother, a Committees on Special Education board member for a school district in Suffolk County, alerted her to the growing need for OT professionals in school settings.
“After life changes and the birth of my daughter, I understood that a career in OT would afford a lot more job stability and security than my previous positions in the business world and market research,” says Terry Jones of her career change. “For all the health professions areas I could have chosen, I gravitated toward OT as I love the restorative opportunities it grants those being treated.”
Her young daughter in mind, Terry Jones did not want to relocate for her doctoral studies, so she opted for New York Tech with its proximity to her Long Island home. She’s glad she chose the university, saying the experiential education opportunities she has participated in have proven invaluable to her success as a professional.
“The favorite part of my OT degree program has been the experiential knowledge that I receive from my professors in and out of the classroom,” Terry Jones says. “They show, using real-life examples, how they have incorporated their knowledge into their own practice, which has been very motivating.”
When she’s not leading a group of kindergarten girls in her church’s Girls Ministries organization, teaching her church's Sunday school class for middle schoolers, or traveling and baking with her daughter, Terry Jones can be found working on her OT capstone project.
Aligned with her goal to practice OT in an elementary school setting, ultimately becoming a professor of the discipline, her thesis focuses on students with handwriting challenges such as dysgraphia, a neurological disorder impairing writing ability, and the effect these challenges have on their self-esteem.
When she graduates in 2025, Terry Jones hopes to secure a position within the Central Islip Union Free School District’s elementary school so she can give back to her community and provide resources to people of color to increase their access to care, especially their access to occupational therapy.
“Ask questions—lots of questions!” Terry Jones offers as advice to her peers and future OT students. “We have great professors who are always willing to answer and help us learn.”