For the second year in a row, a UTHSC occupational therapy (OT) student has been awarded a one time, $3,000 scholarship from the Professional Network on Aging, a community organization dedicated to assisting the geriatric population in Memphis. In addition to the scholarship, recipients also received a one-year membership to the organization.
This year’s recipient, Sarah Caldwell, has always prioritized service. “I believe that we can learn so much about our world and others that are different than us by serving them,” she said. “I hope to be a servant leader as an occupational therapist in the future. If I can help when they need it most, that can make all the difference in the world.”
As a recipient of the scholarship, she will work with the geriatric population to further the organization’s mission to educate individuals on geriatric community issues and offer assistance to the geriatric population.
Caldwell, who graduates in 2019, became interested in OT when she was a caregiver for her grandparents in high school. I was very involved in their care as they aged and so I had a front-row seat to many of their doctor’s appointments, hospital admissions, and inpatient rehab stays, she said. “When my grandfather was in inpatient rehab at HealthSouth, I was introduced to occupational therapy. I loved how it focused on what my grandfather wanted and needed to do, instead of just treating his problems. I fell in love with it because I witnessed it breathe life back into my grandfather.”
At UTHSC, Caldwell is a member of the IMHOTEP Honor Society and served as vice president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association. She is also a member of the Tennessee Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association.
On weekends, Caldwell and her husband Raymond, who is also a UTHSC student in the Physician Assistant Program, work with a family friend who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that impacts muscle function.
“As the disease progresses, our job will become more involved,” Caldwell said. “This family has been friends with my family for my whole life, and so when he was diagnosed, they asked if we would be willing to work to do the basic things he needs when his wife works on weekends. He was more comfortable with having people he knows there with him. I have been able to use my OT knowledge to make suggestions on simple home modifications, teach his wife how to transfer him from different locations safely, and use all the adaptive equipment and assistive technology loaned to him from the ALS association. It has been so rewarding.”