Young Alumni Q & A: Ashley Montijo

Ashley Montijo standing in front a banner and streamers hanging on a garage celebrating her defeating cancer

Occupational Therapy alumna Ashley Montijo (’17) has taken her skills to Littleton High School since earning her master’s in occupational therapy from Colorado State University. Prior to attending CSU, Montijo showed a different type of agility playing collegiate soccer for Illinois Wesleyan while earning her undergraduate degree, including a trip to the Final Four of the NCAA DIII soccer tournament. She is still involved as a soccer player and coach, and enjoys other active hobbies like hiking, biking, running, and lifting. One of Montijo’s greatest challenges has been her health, surviving two bouts of breast cancer the past three years. She completed her 16th round of chemotherapy treatment on March 3, 2023. Through these personal challenges, Montijo is grounded in her career: she truly loves being an OT and is still excited to go to work every day.

Describe your current position and some of the responsibilities that come with it.

Currently I am working as an OT at Littleton High School. I work mostly with center-based students who have significant support needs, and with some resource students in mostly general education classes. I work toward each student’s post-school outcomes. With our center-based students, that looks like a lot of life skills. We work on pedestrian, grocery shopping, budgeting, public transportation, cooking, and other life skills. With resource students it looks like a lot of executive function skills work. I also write IEPs, supervise a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, and have various other responsibilities.

What led you to CSU?

I am from Colorado, and I wanted to come back home for graduate school. I was also interested because it was a community-based program and ranked high in the nation for the OT program.

Why did you decide to pursue your current career path?

I knew that I wanted to do life skills. I did my capstone at CSU on doing OT in juvenile facilities. That got me started down the path. Then we did a small community fieldwork our second year and I worked with a student in the Poudre Transition program which supports transition-aged youth, aged 18-21 years. We worked on cooking and public transportation. I had so much fun, I knew that I wanted to do something with adolescents and life skills.

How have your education and experiences at CSU helped you in your career?

At CSU, they taught us how to think on our own and do our own research. As an OT early in your career, you really don’t know very much, so you have to do a lot of research on your own. CSU helped me in learning to problem solve and figure out how to do research to best serve students and families.

What advice do you have for students looking to join your field?

Complete fieldwork in as many different areas as you can so you can get a broad scope of the profession. Also, when you’re a new OT, make sure your job has a mentor, so you don’t feel like you have to do it all by yourself. It is okay to tell a family member or colleague that you don’t know the answer to something but will look into it and get back to them.

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