Kayla Weller G'16 G'20
Master of Occupational Therapy, Doctorate of Occupational Therapy
Sometimes children teach you more than you teach them. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Kayla Weller G’16 was on track to become an athletic trainer -until she had the opportunity to work with an eight-year-old boy who had Cerebral Palsy. “He changed my whole perspective and motivated me to apply to Bay Path for my master’s degree in occupational therapy,” stated Weller. “My experience with this little boy inspired me to work with children and their families.”
That inspiration stuck, and later that year Weller enrolled in Bay Path’s MOT program. “I lived my whole life in Eastern MA, but I fell in love with the Western MA area in undergrad, and I decided to stay in Springfield to work on my MOT,” stated Weller. “Choosing Bay Path was a no-brainer, as they have the reputation of being the OT school in Western Mass.”
Kayla now works for the State of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families in a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for adolescent males. She’s also passing that inspiration on to others as an adjunct professor at Bay Path. “Being a professor is a rewarding and interesting experience,” stated Weller. “I enjoy spreading my love for the field with students and giving them ‘all the feels’ about our profession and how rewarding it is to help your clients make positive changes in their lives.”
As a graduate of the program she now teaches in, Weller is able to offer a unique connection to her students. “I remember what it was like to be a student going through the demanding Bay Path MOT program,” she said. “I try my best to offer students validation and support while teaching them important values to embody as a practitioner.” During the academic year you can often find a few fieldwork students accompanying her to work for some hands on experience in the day of an occupational therapist.
“As a mental health OT, every day is unpredictable, exciting, and rewarding,” stated Weller. “My day consists of interdisciplinary meetings with social workers, doctors, family members, teachers, and other helping professionals. Intertwined with my many meetings, I see my clients for individual sessions, group sessions, consultations, and assessments.”
Despite what feel like full days, Weller is also a student once more, having returned to Bay Path to complete her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy degree. She urges other women in STEM careers to “never stop learning and always aim to improve your level of competence,” and that’s exactly what she’s done as she prepares to become Dr. Weller in 2020.
Other advice for women looking to enter the occupational therapy field? “Advocate fiercely for your clients and for yourself as a professional. Always allow ethics to guide your decision-making process. Think outside the box; there is an answer to every question.”