Hi everyone! My name is Maddie Thomas and I am a senior in the Bachelor of Health Science program with a minor in Disabilities in Society. After graduation, I hope to attend graduate school for Occupational Therapy. I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida and hope to eventually move back after I am done with graduate school.
I am the first person in my family to pursue a career in the health field which made it difficult for me to truly figure out what I wanted to do when I first came to UF. After exploring numerous lists of fields Health Science majors could go in to, I saw Occupational Therapy and was intrigued but not sure exactly what the job would entail. As I read more and talked to professionals in the field, it sounded like it could be a good fit for me. It was not until my first experience shadowing an Occupational Therapist that I started to understand how perfect of a match it could be.
The shadowing and volunteering experiences I have completed throughout my time here at UF have allowed me to grow as a person and a professional. It has also opened my eyes to how rewarding being an Occupational Therapist can be. I have shadowed at a hand and upper extremity facility, a pediatric facility and a TBI and stroke gym outpatient facility. I love how OT takes more of a holistic approach and how their main goal is to help people achieve independence and gain satisfaction in all areas of life.
The Bachelor of Health Science program has given me several opportunities to expand my professionalism and leadership skills. One of these opportunities I’m most grateful for is my position in the L.E.A.P. Health Science Mentorship Organization. I joined this organization my sophomore year and had the privilege of having a wonderful mentor who was also pursuing a career in Occupational Therapy. She helped guide me through my sophomore year by connecting me to other pre-OT students, informing me about organizations I should be a part of, and gave me so many insightful tips that I will take on with me to graduate school. I was lucky enough to get chosen to be a mentor my junior year and was happy that I got the chance to pass on everything I had learned to my mentee. I am most grateful for the opportunity to be one of the Senior Co-Executive Directors for L.E.A.P. this past year. This past year I have had the chance to work with the executive board and Dr. Moorhouse to help try and make this organization be the best it can be.
Another organization that I am proud to be a part of and that has become a huge part of my life is Camp Kesem. Camp Kesem is a nationwide community, driven by passionate college student leaders, that supports children through and beyond their parent’s cancer. Kesem is the largest national organization dedicated to supporting children impacted by a parent’s cancer. We spend each school year fundraising so that we can run a weeklong summer camp for these kids, at no cost to families. We also have several events throughout the year that allow all of the families that attend camp to get together. I have been a counselor for Camp Kesem for the past three years and plan on attending camp this summer for my last and final year. I was also lucky enough to be on the executive board of Kesem as the Make the Magic Coordinator. Make the Magic is our biggest fundraiser of the year where we hold a dinner, a silent auction and a paddle raise for over 100 guests. My year as coordinator, we were lucky enough to raise over $25,000 in just one night. These kids have such a strong impact on my life by just showing me how strong they are and the connection that everyone has when we are all together. I hope to continue my affiliation with Kesem in one way or another after I graduate.
I am so excited to see what the future holds for me. I have the University of Florida and the BHS program to thank for everything I have accomplished thus far. If you have any questions about the BHS program, OT, or anything I talked about above, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!