Kate Barrett

Kate Barrett

OTD Program Director
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy

From:Minneapolis, Minnesota
Expertise: Community-based practice and building international partnerships to provide experiences that develop students' skills in working across cultures.

Contact: kbarrett@stkate.edu

Before teaching:
"I worked in geriatric rehabilitation, in schools, in child mental health and in community-based practice. I also worked pro bono with undocumented meat packers in Omaha, Nebraska."

Life in Minnesota:
"I love Minnesota winters. I cross country ski, downhill ski and skate. I like to spend time outside in Northern Minnesota and the Boundary Waters."

Why OT?
"My brother, Rob, has Angelman Syndrome. When we were in grade school, an OT attached a string to his zipper so he could zip and unzip his jacket by himself. That's when I learned what OT was and I decided I wanted to be a part of a profession that could really make an impact on a person's quality of life."

Why St. Kate's fits:
"I was familiar with the curriculum and the reputation of St. Kate's long before I came here, and I always knew I wanted to end up here. St. Kate's has a strong presence in the community and a reputation for focusing on social justice issues. We are also a teaching university, so our focus is on students. That's reflected in our small class sizes."

Benefits of distance learning:
"We have maximized the distance learning portion of the curriculum to create the most flexibility possible for student learners. On-campus visits are designed to enhance a sense of community through an orientation and presentation of student work. And students have the opportunity to identify with the St. Catherine campus and culture."

International experience:
"Over the past 12 years, I have led overseas OT experiences in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Peru. When I came to St Kate's I met Tamara Kittelson-Aldred ‘75, a St. Kate's OT graduate who has a foundation called Eleanore's Project providing medically fragile children with personalized fitted wheel chairs in Peru. We developed a partnership. Now we send five OT students with her each March. It's a highly selective process.

We also have a program in Ecuador. Twelve to 20 associate and master's students each year travel to Ecuador to work alongside our Ecuadorian peers and learn about how culture, economics, and politics shape the experience of health and healthcare delivery."

OT at home and abroad:
"Our society and, therefore, our profession strongly values the ability to live independently. In Latin America, more emphasis is placed on interdependence and the involvement of family and community. Another big difference is the availability of resources. Our students are challenged to be innovative and creative in their use of resources in Latin America. We don't bring equipment with us. We want students to learn to use what is available to them."

Why international experiences matter:
"Students experience being 'the other,' outside the mainstream and they develop more compassion for non-English speakers who are new to our country. They also gain leadership skills by learning to take initiative and stepping outside of their comfort zone."

Why St. Kate's is special:
"Our faculty are outstanding. They are leaders in the OT profession and across health, social, and educational systems. They publish and present internationally with emphasis on evidence-based practice and a concern for promoting participation in society of underrepresented groups. They are involved in their communities. Occupational justice, locally and globally, is important to the St. Kate's faculty.

Integrating internationalism:
"A global perspective on health care and international community based rehabilitation is woven throughout the OTD curriculum. OTD students will also have opportunities for leadership and teaching in our international programs."