2020 NJOTA mOTivator Campaign 

Who has motivated you on your occupational therapy journey?  In honor of OT month we invited our NJOTA members to share stories about someone who has inspired them to grow as an OT/OTA student and/or practitioner. Congratulations to all of our mOTivators who have helped and inspired other OTs in NJ!


Vicky Schindler

I have chosen to nominate Vicky Schindler because she has been an integral part of my academic growth at Stockton University. Throughout my time in school, Vicky has taught me some of the greatest lessons that a textbook can’t teach. She has role modeled what it means to be therapeutic, she has shown me what it means to develop rapport, and most importantly she has taught me what it means to flexible. I feel extremely lucky that our class had the opportunity to learn from one of the most influential people in our profession. As you head on into your next chapter of retirement, we will continue to take what you have taught us and continue advocating for ourselves, our profession, our clients, and mental health. Thank you for everything you have done for Stockton University and the profession of Occupational Therapy- you truly are one of a kind with a genuine heart looking to help people reach their highest potentials. We will miss you dearly. (:

Vicky Schindler has made lasting changes in my journey to becoming an occupational therapist thanks to her empathy, creativity, and passion for helping others. Her hard work and dedication to her research in mental health inspired me to work with the particular population, something that I never would have seen myself doing when I came into my graduate program. When she is faced with challenges (such as a class trip to help a foreign country being cancelled the week of due to a pandemic), she perseveres with positivity and flexibility, two skills that I am glad to have learned from her. Vicky Schindler inspires me to always be a better occupational therapist, and that’s why she is my mOTivator.

This is my second year nominating Vicky, but I wouldn’t be able to nominate her enough to express how much she has contributed to the occupational therapy profession and provided me with incredible opportunities. On top of being a full time professor, being involved with research projects, and running an international exchange program with OT, PT, and SLP students, she still has guided me and helped me move into the role of taking over her Colombia exchange program after her retirement. She is a staple face in the OT profession and her positive energy will forever help guide me to live up to her in my profession.


 Irene Ivaldi Egan

It is my great pleasure to nominate Irene Ivaldi Egan as one of the most inspiring OTs in the Jersey City Public Schools. Ms. Egan is a one of the most caring and empathetic occupational therapists I have the pleasure of working with. She is constantly educating herself. She always has knowledgeable inputs when we are dealing with challenging cases. am not sure how many years of experience she has working as an occupational therapist. I know her as a colleague working in the Jersey City Public Schools for at least 10 years. I know her as being a great advocate for underserved communities, especially older teens who often get discharged from related services and other programs because often everyone just gives up on them. She goes above and beyond to support teachers in the classroom because she knows that not only the kids on her caseload will benefit but all the other students in that classroom will benefit. She often goes in her own pocket to buy materials to use in her interventions in the classroom. She inspires me to always be present and be the best OT I can for my students.


 Katie Saccente

For diving right in and re-vamping our newsletter! You've made so many excellent contributions and brought new ideas and suggestions to the table which has both inspired me and brought renewed energy to the newsletter. We appreciate all your hard work and willingness to be flexible as our new Editor in Chief!


 Hunter Smith

Hunter has been instrumental in helping us all learn and utilize our EMR. Since the summertime, she has been working tirelessly to ensure our documentation and procedure are easy to use, help increase time management skills for all user-types, and works diligently behind -the-scenes with the entire treatment team to keep our documents streamlined, up to date, and audit proof! She has the task of not only learning it herself, but teaching all team members how to use it. Also, Hunter has been working on two grants to help allocate funding for up-to-date treatment equipment to help our facility stand out more than it already does. thank you Hunter for all your hard work!


 Katie Bartholomew

Katie was the last of my Level I fieldwork educators and pushed me to play a more active role in my fieldwork experience rather than simply being a passive observer in order to prepare me for Level II placements. The lessons I learned from Katie and her clients are irreplaceable in my journey from student to occupational therapist. She is am amazing OT and I am grateful for the learning experiences I had alongside her. Thanks, Katie!


 

Michelle Bambara

Michelle has brought experience as a traveling therapist to our IRF. Her flexibility, can-do attitude has brightened each and every day! She approaches each case with a realistic optimism, ensuring the best outcomes for every patient and their family. Thank you Michelle for being you.


 

Rachelle Spencer-Mikita

Rachelle developed our outpatient EMR system for two distinct and complex services. Her patience and guidance, along with clinical expertise, has shone through a very high-stress/high-output time this fall. We are extremely thankful for all she did and does to help take care of our extensive patient population! Not only is her clinical expertise beyond valuable, but her training within a peer-to-peer environment makes all the difference. Thank you Rachelle!


 

Ashley Conroy

Ashley works in multiple settings, therefore her presence at SRI is unique. As a per diem therapist, Ashley is expected to pick up any caseload/patient every day which is very unique already. In IRF, as anyone knows, a patient's status could change by the minute, and Ashley's calm, personable approach, clinical flexibility, thorough documentation skills, and creativity help all of our patients achieve great outcomes even if she has seen them for a short time. Ashely takes her time to thoroughly document on evaluation on the weekends so that the "regular" therapist has a 100% clear idea on expectations and clinical presentation, which is invaluable since a regular therapist might not meet a patient until their 3rd or even 4th day in the facility (if the patient had arrived on a Friday evening, for example). I am always impressed and inspired to see Ashley work in our clinic. Thank you Ashley for all you do!


 

Dr. Megan Foti

Dr. Foti is a colleague who has supported my growth as an OT educator over several years. Dr. Foti consistently offers guidance and mentorship to me in the education of graduate OT students, as well as in my recent transition from being a full-time clinician to a full-time educator. Her upbeat attitude and knowledge about our work environment have eased a difficult transition. I have deep gratitude for Dr. Foti and appreciate this opportunity to acknowledge her assistance and support!

I would like to nominate Megan as a mOTivator because she has truly challenged me in so many ways to learn in every situation. Throughout this time of social isolation, she has encouraged my classmates and I to prioritize our mental health, do our best to help the community, and to continue our learning. Her expertise in the field of older adults is incredible and shows in the feedback she provides us on major assignments and in lab. She truly strives to foster our professional development as best as she can on top of her own personal responsibilities. Her joyous attitude and belief in our capabilities is very touching and mOTivating. I only hope to make her proud within these last few weeks of our virtual classes with her.

I am a first year OT student and Dr. Megan Foti is my professor and GA supervisor. I am nominating Dr. Foti because she is the person who helped me believe in myself while I was acclimating to OT school. She trusted me with projects that I originally thought would be too challenging to complete, but with her support and encouragement I was able to realize my potential. Her confidence in me opened me up to so many new experiences that I am grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in during my first semester as an OT student. She has motivated me to challenge myself and try new things to become the best student and future OT that I can be.


 

Christina Dantoni

Christina is an excellent clinician who brings many years of experience at all levels to SRI. She is a veteran per Diem who can step into any role. Over all, Chris is one of my all-time mentors as she was there for me as a new clinician at SRI, and continues to help me learn new things and support us even though I’m now technically “seasoned”! Every time I read her notes, I learn something new, and always enjoy working with her side by side at the outpatient treatment tables, so I can see what new and interesting activity she’ll think up next!


 

Lisa Lowenthal

I had the absolute pleasure of being Lisa Lowenthal’s level I fieldwork student during my adults clinical rotation. I am a current OT student at Stockton University, getting ready for my level II fieldwork rotations to begin this coming May. Throughout OT school, I was always unsure of what setting I wanted to work in once I become a practitioner. While in OT school my most dreaded class was neuroscience because I did not feel as though I could process and understand the information taught. The semester before I was paired with Lisa, I had taken neuroscience and I only understood the bare basics. Upon being paired with Lisa, she told me that her caseload was mainly working with neuro based clients. As if I wasn’t nervous enough about not being strong in neuro, and not really liking the adult population, I thought I was going to hate that placement. Despite all my fears and thoughts, Lisa was the most amazing fieldwork educator I ever worked with to this day. Her knowledge, motivation, and confidence in her abilities made me look forward to attending fieldwork every single week. She pushed me to be as hands on as I could, and really tested my knowledge with not only OT related content but medical knowledge as well. She provided endless clinical experiences for me, and always asked what I wanted to see to better build my clinical knowledge and reasoning. Thanks to Lisa, I have finally found my OT interest. I am now looking forward to one day being an OTR/L working in an acute care hospital setting with a neuro based caseload. Thank you for being the most supportive and helpful educator/mentor!


 

Marge Dorando Walsh

Marge was one of the first OTs I met in NJ when I graduated in 1988. She introduced me to the South Jersey RAP group - a in person network of individuals. Even though I was practicing in PA without any other OTs, I know I had a resource and eventually, a collection fo resources! For that I will always be grateful! Thanks Marge!


 

Debbie Rider

When I started working at Underwood in 1989, I met Debbie for the first time in the medical arts hallways. Debbie was a CHT working for a hand surgeon and I often saw patients from the office who couldn't follow up there. Debbie was a wealth of knowledge and even though some people called her the competition, she never viewed it that way. She was quick to share her knowledge and resources, always for the benefit of our patients!. I have known Debbie now for 30 years and she continues to motivate me to be the best OT I can be and share my passion for OT practice. Debbie is the consummate OT in that she shares what she does in every aspect of her life....there is always an OT lesson to be learned! Thanks for inspiring so many!


 

Angela Busillo

Angela was the OTA Program Director at Atlantic Cape Community College. Someone asked me to be a guest lecturer early in my career. After that lecture, I met with Angela to discuss the possibility of an adjunct faculty position. I had never taught before and Angela proved to be an incredible mentor in the world of teaching and adult education. She led the department by example and was always searching for ways to engage students and give them positive reinforcement. She helped me to become competent and gain my confidence in teaching. Even though we occasionally differed in our perspective, she was receptive to new ideas and shared hers willingly. Thank you Angela for all of your years as an OT Educator, Practitioner, and Mentor!


 

Jillian Randsdorp, OTA

I have seen Jill's dedication to the patients that she treats in several settings. She has been challenged with finding a fulltime position over the last year but always comes to a new setting with motivation and enthusiasm for all her patients. Her current company realizes her value to their new team. Jill's love for OT is evident everyday and she shares her love of OT with her coworkers and patients.


 

Jessica Curcio, OTR

Jessica is a seasoned OT that I had the honor to work side by side with her early in her career and now see her continuing to give her patients full dedication and never shortchanges to meet their needs. What is most impressive with Jessica's treatment is that while she may be frustrated with regulatory interference, she maintains her compassion and objectivity with each patient and family while being a strong team player.


 

Janette Boney

Jan is the utmost kindest and sweetest person I have ever met. She genuinely cares about her students’ well-being and professional development. Jan sees the hidden potentials of her students and encourages them to give their best. She makes herself accessible to students in need and has a wide variety of resources to provide for them. She has a caring heart and wants her students to learn and truly understand the materials with confidence. Her values for creativity, compassion, and client-centered interventions have inspired me to become the best occupational therapist that I can be!


 

Megan Mostecki

Megan has been a truly inspirational educator and mentor in my occupational therapy journey. Her therapeutic use of self and passion for pediatric occupational therapy shines bright through her practice. She is compassionate, patient, energetic, and creative. And most of all, she makes therapy FUN and meaningful for every child! I am so lucky to have been able to learn from Megan and I hope to take the skills and knowledge that she has given me and apply them to my own pediatric practice one day!


 

Victor Michael Camacho

Dr. Camacho's passion for occupational therapy and his students emanates from him both within and outside of the classroom. He is consistently looking for ways to challenge and support his students in their learning. One of the reasons he is such an outstanding professor stems from his use of personal stories as a practitioner, including the mistakes he has made. Dr. Camacho realizes that sharing these stories with his students inculcates a culture of vulnerability and honesty that will help students become practitioners that constantly refine themselves and provide the best possible care to clients.


Claire Mulry

Dr. Claire Mulry consistently shares her knowledge with students as well as her coworkers. She is generous with her time with the genuine intention of helping others grow professionally. When she provides feedback she encourages the receiver to be reflective therefore active and accountable for their own growth. Dr. Mulry is visionary and always challenges herself to think outside the box. It is an honor and a privilege to work with her and call her my friend.


 

Elizabeth Kubie

Liz has gone well beyond to help all of us other occupational therapists in this trying time, she has supported me with suggestions and step by step instructions with telecommunicating with my students.


Susan Watson

Sue has motivated me as a first year OT student by providing the opportunity for me to observe her in different facilities where she practices. She has provided me with knowledge and unique experiences about individuals across the lifespan, which has strengthened my foundation of OT. I will be able to apply this when I am a clinician, as well as enhance my learning in the classroom setting. Her support and guidance is greatly appreciated as I continue my journey in OT school!


JulieAnne Butare

JulieAnne is truly a mOTivator, as she is one of the hardest working OT’s I have ever met. She goes above and beyond each day to advocate for her patients with creative and compassion. For example, she researched adaptive fishing programs and fulfilled a patient’s dream to fish again, despite having a severe TBI. She educated a home bound (and bed-bound) patient on the use of a power wheelchair to achieve their goal of having dinner with their family. She brought a severely ataxia patient to Old Navy and assisted her in a fun shopping day. She constantly keeps in mind client-centered goals, and makes them come to life despite so many obstacles. She is also a very talented and skillful OT. For example, her clinical handling skills are unmatched especially with complex neuro patients. She also has a great understanding of visual therapies following neuro deficits. She encourages all staff to use evidence based practice and is always striving to further her education. Recently, during this COVID health crisis, she is constantly positive and coordinates the daily/hourly changes. Her bravery makes her colleagues feel encouraged and mOTivated. Her hard-work and dedication to the field of occupational therapy is why she deserves to be recognized.


Tarah Jedziniak

 

Tarah teaches our class right after work, both this semester and last semester. She never has once complained about being tired or used that as a reason to give us less than everything that she has to offer. She always makes sure we understand and is so willing to help. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, she continues to work so hard despite the dangers involved and has been just as helpful and accommodating in our online class. Tarah really shows what it means to be a hard-working person, between working, teaching, and being a Mom. It really inspires me to rethink what is possible and how to have a good attitude, always.


Sandee Chalik

Sandee was my level II supervisor, then a mentor, and now forever a colleague. Her passion for our profession is unmatched. Beyond any kind of book learning, she taught from experience and even though it has been six years since I was her grad student she continues to teach me all the time. She presents at conferences and taught at Jefferson, always looking to share our wonderful work, and collaborates like she was born to do it! Her contribution to my learning, her past grad student’s learning, her kiddo’s learning, and even her colleague’s learning is remarkable. I frequently find myself quoting her to my own graduate students. She has created an environment that OT thrives in, is celebrated in, and collaborates within our whole school based practice. Her words of wisdom have shaped my practice and I know I am not alone in saying “We can’t thank you enough”. <3