Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Professional, St. Paul Public Schools
“I liked the beautiful campus and the challenging classes, and I had some amazing professors,” says Teresa. So, when she heard of a new graduate program in Holistic Health Studies launching at St. Kate’s, she jumped on it.
“Holistic health fits perfectly with occupational therapy because both disciplines look at the whole person,” she explains. “In my work, I help students with a range of special education needs succeed in the classroom.”
Upon receiving her bachelor’s degrees in occupational therapy and Spanish from St. Kate’s, Teresa worked in a variety of settings. She began her career as an occupational therapist (OT) at a large hospital where she worked in burns and pediatrics. She then embarked on a decade of volunteer service in regions of great economic need.
She spent a summer as a professional health care volunteer in the mountains of the Dominican Republic, served for two years as an OT at a special education school with Mercy Corps on the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona, and spent seven years in the Amazon basin of Bolivia in South America as a Maryknoll Lay missioner, where she, in collaboration with the community, founded and organized special education in the community and a community-based rehabilitation program benefitting more than 350 children with disabilities and their families.
“My classes in Holistic Health Studies affirmed a lot of traditional and natural healing methods, like energy healing and healing techniques using local natural remedies, that I was fortunate to learn and experience in Bolivia and on the Navajo reservation.”
For her master’s thesis, Teresa researched the effects of space — including lighting, sound and nature — on healing. “All of the wisdom gained has been applicable to my emphasis on creating optimal classroom environments to facilitate student learning.”
In 2014, she authored Una Experiencia de Rehabilitation Basada en la Comunidad, and in 2018 translated the book into English, Community-Based Rehabilitation in the Bolivian Amazon, both published by Hermès House Press. Teresa continues to travel to Bolivia often, to visit friends and lecture and collaborate in rural and urban settings for the promotion of community-based rehabilitation programs throughout Bolivia.