Outstanding grad earns second bachelor’s degree to pursue occupational therapy career

Jennifer Fyhrie

“Leaving a comfortable career and returning to student life with my husband and son in tow required significant adaptation for all of us,” outstanding human development and family studies graduate Jennifer Fyhrie said.

Fyhrie transitioned from her role as academic success coordinator in the Department of Construction Management at CSU in the fall of 2019, where soon after she enrolled to pursue her second degree. Fyhrie chose to return to school as a first step to pursuing a career in occupational therapy.

Fyhrie is a first-generation, non-traditional student, as well as a student parent. Through all of this, she has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her entire academic career.

Reaching academic goals

“Academically, I am very proud of the 4.0 GPA I earned. This was a goal I set my first semester to help with my grad school application given the highly competitive nature of the occupational therapy master’s program at CSU,” Fyhrie said.

Throughout her academic journey, Fyhrie worked as a research assistant for the Developmental Disabilities Lab in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and volunteered at Colorado in Motion where she shadowed a pediatric occupational therapist helping children with feeding difficulties. In December, she will also begin working with older adults with cognitive impairments.

Upon graduating, Fyhrie hopes to join CSU’s Department of Occupational Therapy this fall to further her studies.

“This has been a dream of mine for years and I am really excited to be taking this next step,” she said. “I have worked really hard to find experiences outside the classroom to understand what occupational therapy can offer people. It feels good to know I’ve pushed past the bare minimum and have found a focus in this field that I am so passionate about.”

Finding a sense of community at CSU

Fyhrie has lived in the Fort Collins area for 14 years and was drawn to CSU’s sense of community, which led CSU to become her first choice for pursuing her second bachelor’s degree. This also led her to pursue a degree in human development and family studies.

When discussing her experience with HDFS, Fyhrie cites the faculty and advisers as extremely supportive, guiding her toward opportunities that have helped her get closer to achieving her goals.

“Over time, this encouragement has helped to dissipate my self-doubt and I found that my age allowed for a unique perspective that peers and faculty welcomed openly,” she said.

Adapting and adjusting to the changing world

Like many others, Fyhrie had a hard time adjusting to the COVID-19 pandemic – especially as a self-described extrovert. During quarantine, she learned more about appreciating whatever life throws at you.

“I found myself wrapped up in frustration, fear, and sadness for a while after quarantine began, but once I focused on just one small piece of gratitude, it grew into much more,” Fyhrie said. “This experience has taught me that you can’t take anything for granted; nothing in life is guaranteed. Appreciate everything you have, even if it’s small, and you’ll find that life reveals other sources of joy in places you didn’t think to look.”

Fyhrie will be graduating this fall semester and working toward her career goal to become an occupational therapist.

“I’ll leave CSU with a bachelor’s degree but more importantly, I know exactly what I want and how I’m going to accomplish it,” Fyhrie said.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.