lashonda peoples lowThree years after receiving her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from UAB, LaShonda Peoples saw a need and decided to do something about it. She remembered the out-of-pocket expenses she endured as a second year OT student and in 2008 created the HOTSS Scholarship (Helping Occupational Therapy Students Succeed).

“The scholarship helps second year occupational therapy students afford and prepare for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam, license fees and study materials,” said Peoples. “Students tell me they are grateful for the scholarship considering there are very few available for OTs.”

Every year, two OT students are awarded a $500 stipend to use for their licensing and exam fees as well as fieldwork expenses. So far five scholarships have been awarded and two more are planned for April. Peoples support to the OT program doesn’t stop with her scholarship. The Tuscaloosa native also mentors both first and second-year students.

“It is rewarding to help students learn and become professionals,” said Peoples. “Mentoring provides a way for the professional to learn from the student as well and to share new ideas.”

It’s obvious Peoples enjoys helping others, and it’s one of the reasons she decided to enter the OT program.

“I admired the relationships OTs had with their clients and the affect they had on increasing each client’s independence with activities of daily living,” said Peoples.

She sees that progress every day as an OT in the burn and behavioral health units at Children’s of Alabama. She’s helps her young patients build back important skills.

“I help my patients remain independent after sustaining burn injuries, help them accept their body image and to be confident in their abilities to play and function around peers,” said Peoples. “I help my patients on behavioral health by building positive self-esteem and social skills, establishing positive coping skills and positive communication skills.”

Peoples tells potential students OT is a rewarding profession and provides many career path options. And she tells soon-to-be graduates to be open to ideas.

“Take time to shadow various professions that you are interested in and be prepared to work hard to earn your degree,” said Peoples. “Prepare for board certification exams, take time to visit facilities that you are interested in working at and don’t be afraid to try new things.”