Published on March 22, 2021 by Leighton Doores  

Degree/Year: Human Development and Family Science, 2010

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Current Position: Neonatal Occupational Therapist

Describe your journey from Samford to your current position: While at Samford, I developed an interest in the helping and medical professions. I became interested in Occupational Therapy (“OT”) and realized that HDFS was the perfect foundation for a career as an OT. Choosing HDFS as my major helped me stand out and better market myself when I was going through the interview process for graduate school. I was well-rounded and had a holistic mindset which was appealing to the graduate program directors. I accepted the offer to attend UAB where I earned my master’s degree in occupational therapy. I am currently working in a pediatric environment, which has always been a passion and dream since I was a young girl. HDFS and OT are both helping professions where I am able to serve people in a variety of unique ways using skill sets from both my bachelor's and master's degree.

What do you enjoy most about what you are doing? I enjoy building special relationships with families and other medical personnel who are serving the families alongside me. I have had the honor of coming back to Samford as a guest speaker from time to time where I have been able to share my story, encourage students and answer questions.

How did Samford prepare you for what you are doing now? The core classes and the curriculum in the HDFS major mirrored many of the classes that I took in the occupational therapy master’s program. For example, the practicum course, human development, and research courses at Samford were instrumental in my success in graduate school and beyond. I gained confidence in interacting with my peers, sorority sisters and my professors through the countless group projects, late night step sing practices, speaking in classes and intramural activities.  An occupational therapist needs to gain buy-in from the nurses, the patients, the patient’s family, other care facilities, just to name a few. Being effective at OT requires communication, influence, and the ability to read a variety of social situations. I am thankful for the technical training and people skills that I gained at Samford. It’s hard to imagine where my OT career would be without such a foundation.

What advice do you have for current HDFS students? HDFS provides such a holistic and diverse foundation which allows students to be well equipped to pursue any number of careers. For me, I knew while in school that I wanted to use the HDFS major towards occupational therapy, but I found myself benefitting from the training in other endeavors such as when I started an online babysitting business. Some of my classmates have gone into law, non-profit work, educational settings, counseling, among many others. Shadow OTs, CEOs, educators, lawyers. Keep working hard, use your advisors to help guide you, try different things, find your passion, and never give up on a bad day!  Get out there and find how you want to use your HDFS major.

What are you up to these days? Currently I am working part-time as an OT at UAB and Brookwood Hospital. I am also a full-time mommy to three boys (ages 4, 2, and 8 months) who keep me on my toes constantly.