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Coffee Break with Professor Theresa Carroll

Our top tier educators come from all different walks of life and bring their unique experiences and knowledge to every class they teach. So, if you want to know Valpo you need to know our professors, and what better way to do that than over coffee?

Theresa Carroll, clinical associate professor of occupational therapy (OT) and fieldwork coordinator, shares her passion about guiding students towards becoming the next generation of occupational therapists, her love for nature, and her experiences that led her to Valpo.

“My family and I lived in the south suburbs of Chicago for 10 years,” Professor Carroll says. “I was working at University of Illinois Chicago in the OT program there, but then I learned that Valpo was starting an OT program and there is a real need for OT in the Northwest Indiana area, so I felt like it was a call that I needed to answer.”

Professor Carroll was ready to follow her passions and they led her right to Valpo. And it doesn’t hurt that we are situated close to the Dunes and Lake Michigan, which were major selling points for Carroll and her family, as they love hiking outdoors and spending time in nature as a disconnect from their daily schedule.

“I have five children, I love having a big family and my kids are very supportive of my dreams,” Professor Carroll says. “They know what OT is and they come to campus events with me all the time. They love coming to mom’s office and seeing what it’s like at the University and that makes me feel like my decision to come here was right.”

Our new entry-level occupational therapy doctorate is a 109-credit hour program that prepares future occupational therapists to be servant leaders and to excel in the healthcare field through passion put into purpose. And Professor  Carroll is dedicated to living out her purpose through teaching occupational therapy to her students from the standpoint of a colleague, in order to allow them to grow and confidently engage in the profession long before they enter the workplace.

“I practiced as an OT in a therapeutic day school for students with developmental disabilities right out of grad school,” Professor Carroll says. “I really loved that work, but felt the need to make a bigger change in the profession than I was able to in that position as a clinician and teaching was the answer for me. Teaching is one way to invest in the future, and I was able to bring clinical experiences that I had into the classroom and say this is what I encountered and this is what we need to prepare you for.”

Because professor Carroll was able to get field experience as a clinician before she came to teach at Valpo, she is able to offer students a different kind of learning experience that is unique to her. And much like most of our educators, Professor Carroll’s top priority is her students’ success and she constantly adjusts her teaching style to accommodate new learning techniques.

“I have really come to love some of the newer strategies in teaching, things like flipping the classroom, problem-based learning, team-based learning,” Professor Carroll says. “I love working alongside students as they develop the skills to become occupational therapists. We are teaching them how to think like an OT and I think that’s the best way to prepare them for the workplace. I like creating case studies, or lab experiences, anything to make it easier for my students to grasp the concepts they need to succeed. I want them to move beyond the lecture and go into the more practical learning,” Carroll says.

At Valpo, our professors love what they teach and that translates to their students in the form of office hours, additional guidance, in and out of class support and so much more. And Professor Carroll let us know how the community at Valpo played a major role in her current position.

“I care a lot about OT and I just want to be able to refer friends and family to quality therapists who really value the work as much as I do,” Carroll says. “At Valpo, the University’s core values align so well with the values of OT. Especially being a light for others and advocating for servant leadership, it’s really inspirational and we draw from those values for the OT program.”

If you would like to know more about our new entry level occupational therapy program, or are considering a degree in health care, do not hesitate to reach out to Professor Carroll. But contrary to the series title, professor Carroll does not drink coffee, but prefers “fancy loose-leaf tea without sugar or milk.”


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