For almost 10 years, St. Catherine University alumna Michelle Bracey OTA’20 served her country as a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy. Stationed in Florida, Maryland, and Virginia, Bracey assisted healthcare professionals in providing medical care to Navy and Marine Corps personnel of the operational forces, shore activities, and other authorized beneficiaries. In 2018, Bracey was looking to separate from the military and knew she wanted to stay in the medical field. “I was looking for an OTA program where I could still work full-time. I came upon St Kate’s while doing research in different therapy programs and loved how convenient it was,” she says.
Before she started St. Kate’s online occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program, Bracey was a little skeptical about how prepared she would feel for fieldwork and balancing work and home life. However, her worries quickly melted away. “I did really well in both my level 2 fieldwork experiences and received great marks from my clinical instructors,” she says. “The best part of the program for me was that I was able to continue working full time up until level 2 fieldwork. I had a toddler at home, so it was important for me to still be able to work while going to school so I could provide for her. St Kate’s definitely made that possible.”
Bracey enjoyed getting her degree online, noting the small class sizes and flexible yet engaging curriculum. Even when she was having trouble with a subject, she felt supported by St. Kate’s dedicated faculty. “Pediatrics was a tougher subject for me, but Dr. Hoffman was always so welcoming and helpful when explaining different topics that we were covering,” she recalls.
Right after graduating from St. Kate’s OTA online program, Bracey was offered two jobs, which she credits to her St. Kate’s degree and experience. She is currently a certified occupational therapy assistant in a 307-bed skilled nursing facility where she provides skilled interventions to residents to restore their independence and maximize their functional skills. Bracey believes that her St. Kate’s degree has also prepared her for what lies ahead. “My St. Kate’s OTA degree is also my stepping stone for eventually applying to bridge into a master of occupational therapy program.”
During her experience at St. Kate’s, Bracey felt inspired by St. Kate’s mission and values. “I am so proud to be a St Kate’s graduate. The University’s values are directly in line with my own, and I believe they have helped me become the compassionate therapist that I am today,” she says. St. Kate’s dedication to social justice also struck a cord with Bracey. Reflecting, she says, “Being a student at St Kate’s definitely made me more aware of the social injustices and inequalities that continue to occur. It has helped me be a better and educated advocate for those experiencing these issues; it opened my eyes to appreciating other people’s different identities and personal values.”