Today Magazine Spring 2021 - Page 10

From partnering with local churches and going on service trips to other countries , GMercyU students are out there as representatives of our university , doing for others , and showing love and mercy to the world around us .

A Great Honor : GMercyU OT Student Elected to National Role on the American Occupational Therapy Association ( AOTA ) Board

By Meghan Orsino
The highest position offered to a student in the country , Leigh will serve as AOTA ’ s Student Delegates ( ASD ) Chairperson .
Life can change on a dime , and for GMercyU Occupational Therapy student Leigh Herzberger ' 20 /' 21 , a major car accident opened a new path that became her passion and led her to an exciting new role at the AOTA beginning this summer .
While Leigh was a junior in high school , her cousin was in a near-fatal car accident in Florida that left him fighting for his life . He sustained a traumatic brain injury ( TBI ), multiple broken bones , and was in a coma for weeks , all while his family was hundreds miles away in Pennsylvania .
“ I witnessed the experience of this trauma from many angles ,” recalls Leigh . “ Not only was my cousin fighting to recover from so much physical trauma , but his closest support system that was fighting for him too , experienced incredible challenges throughout his rehabilitation . I did not know it at the time , but this was a period of significant disruption for my whole family .”
His challenging rehabilitation process greatly impacted Leigh , and she became intrigued with his occupational therapy sessions , something she ’ d never heard about until then .
“ I found myself FaceTiming my aunt and uncle during my cousin ’ s OT sessions so I could observe his treatment ,” said Leigh . “ As I recognized the difference of the occupational
8 TODAY