Occupational Therapy

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Occupational Therapy Spotlight

Featuring students and alumni of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program who exemplify excellence.


Meet Cheyenne Voshell, a third-year student in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. Cheyenne will graduate in May of 2023 and completed her Doctoral Capstone with the Iowa Department of Human Rights - Criminal Juvenile Justice Planning Committee (JCCP).

Name: Cheyenne Voshell
Waterloo, IA
Degree Program:
OTD, May 2023
Doctoral Capstone placement:
Iowa Department of Human Rights - Criminal Juvenile Justice Planning Committee (JCCP)

Tell us about your Doctoral Capstone. What were your responsibilities and what did a typical day look like for you?
I completed my capstone project at the Iowa Department of Human Rights working with the Criminal Juvenile Justice Planning Committee (JCCP). Through CJJP I was able to partner with Ellipsis, a youth placement facility, and provide direct OT services for youth in their Neurodevelopmental and Comorbid Conditions (NACC) unit. The focus of my capstone was occupational therapy program development within Iowa's Juvenile Justice System for youth in out-of-home placements to assist them with successful reentry back into their environments upon discharge from placement. Working with CJJP, we will be able to analyze the effects of youth receiving OT programming during placements and its effects on recidivism rates.
My responsibilities included observation and sessions with youth at multiple group placement facilities and juvenile detention centers in Iowa. I also spent time developing my own OT programming in addition to interventions for the CJJP's Reentry Navigators, hired through Iowa Vocational Rehab Services assisting youth with disabilities with navigating reentry services and gaining the skills they need to be successful.
What was your favorite thing about the capstone?

Aside from making connections with youth in these facilities, the opportunity to network and advocate on higher systemic levels. Not only advocating for youth and services in general, but occupational therapy's role within justice systems, specifically Iowa's juvenile and adult justice systems.

What attracted you to Drake's OTD program?

Drake's emphasis on experiential learning and opportunities to partner with community organizations to apply the skills you are learning in the classroom. In addition to Dr. Urish and her passion for mental health and integrating mental health topics throughout Drake's program. This was important for me because my primary interest area is mental health OT! 

How has Drake helped you prepare for your future career as an occupational therapy professional?

Drake's OTD curriculum provides us with a very well-rounded education and scope of practice. We come out true generalists and I feel confident that I could choose to work in any setting after graduation and feel competent enough to at least try it! 

What are your career goals? Have they changed at all since you started Drake's OTD program?
My short-term career goal is to gain experience working in a mental health OT role and soak up any and all opportunities to continue building up my toolbox and knowledge! I love learning and look forward to being able to continue building my skills. 

Long-term, I would love to eventually develop an OT program within an existing community mental health organization and potentially look into advocating at the legislative level for OT and/or other areas of passion I hold. Occupational therapy provides holistic and complimentary services that I believe would enhance any services already being offered at many organizations within our communities currently. I would also love to start my own non-profit organization someday.
What is one piece of advice you would give to future occupational therapy students?

Go into your program and the occupational therapy profession open and ready to LEARN. OT is one of those careers where you have to be willing and ready to be constantly learning and adapting in order to continue building your own skills to provide quality care to the populations we serve. You have to love to learn and be willing to change your habits and routines to continue evolving and progressing OT as a profession. At the end of the day though, if you are ever uncertain about what you know or are unsure about what you should be doing with a client, remember to really take the time to listen to them and use your empathy always. 

Previous OTD Spotlights

2023 spotlights

Karissa Olson - ChildServe | Doctoral Capstone

Kevin Ockenfels - Open Doors Organization | Doctoral Capstone

Zola Sloth - Rainbow Tree Therapies, LLC | Doctoral Capstone

Danyelle Sutton - Empowered Homes | Doctoral Capstone

Tiya Tito - Elmhurst College Masters of Occupational Therapy Program | Doctoral Capstone

Jenna-Lynn Willer - E3 Collective/Swim Empowered | Doctoral Capstone

Caitlin Wright - University of Northern Iowa Student-Athlete Academic Services | Doctoral Capstone

2022 spotlights

Brittany Bieber - Project Renewal | Doctoral Capstone

Robert Boarman - VA Central Iowa Health Care | Doctoral Capstone

Jamie Bryan - Iowa State University Digital Accessibility Lab | Doctoral Capstone

Emily Cuddy - the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center | Doctoral Capstone

Karagan Fisher - UnityPoint North Crossing Clinic | Doctoral Capstone

Shannon Flaherty - A Horse Connection | Doctoral Capstone

Jessica Haggerty - Optimae Rehabilitation Services and Mindspring Mental Health Alliance | Doctoral Capstone

Mary-Grace Hupfeld - Drake University | Doctoral Capstone

Madigan Koneval - OSF Healthcare St. Francis Medical Center Outpatient Rehabilitation | Doctoral Capstone

Bri Mazzei - Beyond Aquatics | Doctoral Capstone

Alyana McCalley - National Sports Center for the Disabled | Doctoral Capstone

Rylee Steinke - MercyOne Des Moines NICU | Doctoral Capstone

Taylor Weetman - JHRN Clinic for Performing Artists at the Peabody Institute | Doctoral Capstone

Jackie Widmer - SwedishAmerican Hospital NICU | Doctoral Capstone


2021 spotlights

Angelica Gacek - UnityPoint Trinity Health | Doctoral Capstone

Hailey Hahn (Mills) - Behavioral Health Specialists, Inc. | Doctoral Capstone

Maranda Metz - Stead Family Children's Hospital | Doctoral Capstone

Jessica Neff - Saint Louis University's (SLU) Occupational Therapy Transition and Integration Services | Doctoral Capstone

2020 spotlights

Carrie Behrends - Utah State Hospital | Mental Health Level II Fieldwork

Emily Hawkins - Millenium Therapy | Geriatric, Long-Term Care and Skilled Nursing Level II Fieldwork

Emily Mock - St. Jude Children's Research Hospital | Pediatric Level II Fieldwork

Elizabeth Riek - the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center | Doctoral Capstone

Mariah Roe - On With Life | Neurological Level II Fieldwork

Mariah Roe - Millennium Rehabilitation & Consulting Services, Inc | Post-Graduate Career

Matt Schimek - Drake University | Doctoral Capstone

Erin Speth - Across the Board Therapy | Post-Graduate Career

2019 spotlights

Kate Crane - On With Life | Level II Fieldwork

Emily Nadolny - St. Florian Fire and Burn Foundation's Miracle Burn Camp | Level II Fieldwork

Maddy Nave - Utah State Hospital | Level II Fieldwork

February 12, 2024