Occupational therapy graduate provides invaluable support to development of new program

Megan Wadley Headshot
Megan Wadley

Megan Wadley grew up in Texas, where she met her partner, and it was through him that she was exposed to Colorado State University. While he earned his master’s degree at CSU, she visited often and fell in love with Fort Collins. After moving to Fort Collins, she found her passion, decided to change careers, and set out to earn her master’s degree in occupational therapy.

“I dove in by quitting my job, studying for the GRE, and taking prerequisites. I was both ecstatic and relieved when I got my acceptance letter for CSU-OT,” said Wadley.

Building future scholars

While a student, Wadley had the unique experience of helping to develop the curriculum for the new professional occupational therapy doctorate program, the OTD, helping the department in their gradual transition from a professional master’s program. In the course of her work, she gained a greater appreciation for the complex process of curriculum design and the challenging decisions that educators must make around what content areas to include or leave out. Department Head Anita Bundy was enthusiastic about Wadley’s contributions.

“Megan is a critical thinker who is collaborative, creative, responsible, and highly motivated. Her demeanor is always professional, and her lighthearted style offers levity to sometimes-daunting tasks,” said Bundy about Wadley’s contributions to the OTD course curriculum development. “Her work has been invaluable.”

For a discipline like OT, which spans such a variety of health care settings and populations, no number of credits could possibly cover all the content that one might need in this profession. However, developing a greater awareness of key desirable skills has made Wadley feel more confident in her ability to practice OT in any setting.

“Even though I will never know everything about a given setting and population, I am confident that I will be able to identify the knowledge and skills that I lack and  build those deficits in order to serve my clients as best I can,” said Wadley.

Finding balance

Wadley also acknowledges that there have been challenging moments throughout her education where she has felt exhausted and overwhelmed.

In such a prestigious, graduate-level program, time is often in short supply. The professors in the Department of Occupational Therapy encouraged Wadley to create a balance between her school and non-school lives.

Megan Wadley hiking in a snow-covered woodland“The OT faculty were open and honest in recognizing that the CSU-OT program is very demanding and places high expectations on its students, but they were also supportive by reminding us to get away from our computers every now and then and not take everything too seriously,” said Wadley.

Wadley has kept her head up through the challenges. “There have certainly been moments where I’ve wondered if this whole career change journey will be ultimately worth it,” said Wadley. “When I remember my reasons for pursuing a different professional path, I’m able to take some deep breaths and stick to it.”

As a member of CSU’s chapter of Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) from 2017 to 2019, Wadley served as treasurer during the 18-19 academic year. She was also a recipient of a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence award, which gave her the opportunity to work with Associate Professor Karen Atler. With support from Wadley, Atler launched a research study merging occupational therapy, yoga, and nutrition to help people with diabetes enjoy their lives while managing their condition.

Staying involved and next steps

In her spare time throughout her program, Wadley has dedicated herself to playing the French horn in two community ensembles that rehearse and perform in CSU’s University Center for the Arts. She considers herself lucky, since she’ll be able to return to campus frequently for rehearsals.

“Even though I will still have opportunities to enjoy CSU, I’ll miss the beautiful trees and landscaping all around campus. Most of all, I’ll miss the great faculty and students who I’ve had the pleasure of learning from and working with in the Human Development and Family Studies, Psychology, Biomedical Sciences, and especially the OT departments,” said Wadley.

Wadley will take her board certification exam in January, and then plans to find work as an occupational therapist. Once she has earned her credentials, she would love to work in an outpatient clinic, inpatient rehabilitation, or hospital setting helping individuals to participate meaningfully in their day-to-day lives.

The Department of Occupational Therapy is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

Read about more of the outstanding graduates in the College of Health and Human Sciences.