Working as an occupational therapist and serving as a mentor and fieldwork educator for many years, Julie Silver Seidle decided that she wanted to expand her skill set to teaching in the classroom setting. Read about her journey and her plans with her Ph.D. degree in Occupation and Rehabilitation Science.
Share about your background
I grew up outside a small town in Kansas called Carbondale. I received my bachelor’s degree in american studies from the University of Kansas in 2001. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! I was planning on attending the University of Kansas Medical Center for occupational therapy school when I visited Colorado for the first time. I instantly fell in love with the mountains and had a chance to visit the Department of Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University. I knew this is where I wanted to be.
I applied to CSU OT and started working on my master’s degree in occupational therapy the following year. After graduating in 2007, I was lucky enough to continue to live and work in Fort Collins. I have worked as an occupational therapist in a variety of adult and older adult settings. My passion is in community-based practice where I have spent the better part of the last decade developing programs and expanding occupational therapy services at Elderhaus and Mindset Adult Day Programs. When I had the opportunity to return to CSU OT to pursue a Ph.D., I jumped at the chance.
Why did you choose to pursue a Ph.D. degree in Occupation and Rehabilitation Science?
I really enjoy working with students and sharing my passion for community-based occupational therapy. After serving as a mentor and fieldwork educator for many years, I wanted to expand my skill set to teaching in the classroom setting. Pursuing a Ph.D. also gave me a chance to engage in research that aligned with my work and interests by examining issues related to aging, dementia, caregiving, and community-based occupational therapy in emerging practice areas.
What have been your most rewarding experiences/accomplishments as a Ph.D. student?
I am so grateful for this experience; although it is hard to pick because there have been so many great opportunities. I was fortunate to get to work with my adviser, Pat Sample, on a variety of projects related to families of individuals with brain injuries, as well as research related to farmer stress and mental health. She also encouraged me to work on projects that highlighted my areas of interest.
One of the most rewarding experiences I had as a Ph.D. student was my dissertation related to community work with caregivers of individuals with dementia. I was able to take questions I had in practice related to my work with caregivers and support groups, examine these questions through interviews, and use this knowledge to inform and enhance caregiver supports, services, and research. I was also given the opportunity to create a community-engaged research team to address issues related to aging in Northern Colorado. It is very rewarding to connect my academic endeavors to my work in the community.
What have you enjoyed the most about CSU or Fort Collins?
Fort Collins is my home and has been a wonderful place to raise my family. I also enjoy working in a community that has so many talented and dedicated individuals that are committed to making our community a better place for all people, including individuals with disabilities and older adults.
What are your future plans with your Ph.D. degree?
I plan on continuing to teach future occupational therapists both in and out of the classroom. I also plan on continuing my community-engaged work and conducting translational research that addresses health disparities among older adults in their communities of choice.