Harlem resident April Kirby was selected to receive the coveted Maimonides Award from the Touro College School of Health Sciences. The Award was presented at the School’s recent commencement ceremony held at the Tilles Performing Arts Center on Long Island.
Kirby, who completed the Occupational Therapy (OT) Assistant Program, was one of nine graduates who received the Award for demonstrating the highest professional ideals of a health sciences practitioner. “Helping people do what’s important to them is what attracted me to this career from the beginning,” she said.
“Whether it’s teaching stroke victims how to prepare meals, or helping children with gross and fine motor deficits how to engage in recreational sports, it is my responsibility to find out what is important and teach them how to do so safely and as independently as possible,” said Kirby.
A dance major and graduate of the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan, Kirby enrolled at Touro after receiving a BS in Health Fitness from the University of North Carolina. She chose Touro because its flexible evening program enabled her to work full-time while attending classes. “The design of the curriculum made transitioning back to being a student easier,” she said.
As class representative, Kirby liaised between students and faculty and consulted with potential applicants to the OT Assistant Program. And just six months prior to graduation, Kirby launched the OT Assistant program’s first Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA). Her advisor, Julie Kardachi− Chair and Program Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Department− admires Kirby’s qualities as a student and professional.
“April is a true leader. She organized the first SOTA event, working closely with her counterpart in the first year class as well as SOTA representatives from the OT program. She encouraged her classmates to attend evening meetings after their fieldwork. It was April’s drive, passion and commitment that really made the event happen, and it was a very bright start to our SOTA,” said Kardachi.
Ultimately, Kirby aspires to be a traveling therapist working with the disabled, but is open to other environments that can best utilize her skills, such as skilled nursing facilities or outpatient treatment centers for adults, children, or veterans.
“I hope to bring innovative treatment interventions and quality healthcare to my patients,” said Kirby. “I hope that this occupation will provide mentorship, opportunities for me to grow professionally, and enhance my therapeutic skills,” she said, adding, “I am grateful to those who helped advance my education at Touro and those who thought enough to nominate me for such a prestigious award.”
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