Growing up in a farm in rural Wisconsin, I always thought I wanted to work with horses as an adult. Caring for my horses’ nutrition, creating training and exercise programs for the performance horses, and rehabilitating any injured horses were my favorite activities. This dream lasted until the beginning of my sophomore year when I noticed a few things off with my personal health. As a result of my declining health, I became very interested in human health, and by the end of the sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with cancer.
For the next year, I was in and out of the hospital and surgical room hoping reality was a dream with a positive outcome. High school was a struggle as battling cancer was a hard situation for myself and others to grasp. After a year, the treatment worked, and to this day, I am cancer free. My battle with cancer has taught me a lot about myself and how I want to impact the world. There are always going to be difficulties to face in life, however, the most important part of overcoming those difficulties lies in the response. I used my battle with cancer to gain strength and motivation for my future. I continued to participate in the activities I enjoyed even when they became difficult because I knew they were vital for both my physical health and mental well-being.
Managing high school while battling cancer was difficult, but I used this situation to give me an even greater motivation to succeed in college. I have maintained my GPA while holding jobs, even physically challenging ones. All of my experiences have molded me into a stronger and more driven person. My experience with cancer also taught me how precious life truly is. I want to make a positive difference in the lives of people by helping others find meaning the same way I found strength, hope, and resilience through motivating physical activities.
During my cancer treatments, the oncologist’s knowledge delivery and compassion largely influenced my seemingly drastic career change from equine to human health. The hospital setting opened my eyes to a potential career in rehabilitation within the healthcare field. As I began evaluating different careers, occupational therapy was a perfect fit for me because it combined the rehabilitation and mental health components that have fascinated me since my cancer diagnosis. The oncologist offered guidance and assurance in a time of need, and I would be honored to be able to return the favor to others through occupational therapy. In the future, as an occupational therapist, I want to encourage others to reach their goals, include the patient in the treatment process, and improve their physical and mental well-being through meaningful activity.
After I finish graduate school, my primary goal is to begin working within an oncology setting and be of service to cancer patients experiencing any physical or mental effects from the treatment or treatment process. As I have experienced first-hand, offering hope and a sense of normalcy during a time of need is critical to the recovery process, which I want to be a part of. I sincerely enjoy how holistic and all-encompassing the field of occupational therapy is for an individual. Helping others find useful activities to bring hope and motivation during tough life experiences is something I am now dedicated to. I want to make a difference and genuinely believe I have the motivation, determination, maturity, and resilience to make a positive change not only within the field of occupational therapy but also in the lives of patients.
We are proud to announce Shelby Manor is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook and other social media sharing options in left column) and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.