[I] have always had a connection to people with disabilities, particularly children, which has led me to many meaningful professional opportunities. The ability to connect and relate to children with disabilities led me to begin my work as a child care provider for children with special needs, eleven years ago.
My first job was with a boy who had moderate motor impairments as a result of a developmental disability. He was unable to perform many physical tasks, although he responded positively to non-traditional approaches to basic life skills that we worked on regularly. Much of our day was spent practicing things that might seem second nature to most; things like how to button his own shirts, how to dress himself independently, and how to soothe himself when he was upset.
When I discovered that I was teaching skills as an occupational therapist would, I knew that I had found the environment in which I wanted to work. My interest in helping individuals with disabilities improve their daily functioning led me to research careers in occupational therapy. I am inspired by the impact that I have had on the children whom I have worked with, even at my current level of experience, and that excitement is what drives me to continue down this path.
Last year, I fell ill with Pneumococcal Meningitis. This illness occurred three months before I was to start graduate school to begin my Master’s program in Occupational Therapy. As a result of the illness I was forced to defer my education for a year in order to recover. My medical team also informed me that I could potentially experience permanent hearing, physical, and cognitive damage as a result of the meningitis, and that returning to school may not be an option for me. I was grief stricken when I heard this news. I had worked so hard to get to graduate school, and my academic journey to get here was not an easy one.
Having a team of doctors telling me I may never walk or hear again, and may suffer from chronic pain was a lot to comprehend. It took me a day to process, but after I did, I decided nobody was going to decide the outcome of my future but me. I worked intensively with my physical & occupational therapists, I meditated, and I emailed my professors and asked if they would be kind enough to allow me to complete my senior quarter online. They allowed me to complete my senior research project online, and I was able to complete my senior quarter within three months of being discharged from the hospital.
I spent the last year doing everything I possibly could to get as healthy as possible, so that I could be the best version of myself for graduate school. I am happy to say that my walking is fully normal, in fact I walked out of the hospital with the assistance of my nurse on discharge day; my hearing is no longer impaired, I have no cognitive impairments, and I haven’t had a migraine in over 7 months thanks to my wonderful neurologist. When there’s a will, there’s a way; and nobody was going to deter me from my future career or service to others.
We are proud to announce Yasaman Moarrab is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘star’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.