Educated Woman of the Week- Whitney Hutchings

Whitney Hutchings
Mother, Grad Student: Occupational Therapy

Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I graduated from BYU in 2011 with a bachelor’s in psychology. Then, I enrolled at UVU to do pre requisite courses for my graduate program, Occupational Therapy. Now I’m a graduate student at the University of Utah.

Tell us about your school/work life:
This is my first semester in the Master’s of Occupational Therapy program at the University of Utah. It has been a blast so far! There are 34 of us in the class of 2018 and we have become close already. Our professors are so knowledgeable and provide us with a lot of practical insights. I am thrilled that this dream came true for me!

Tell us about your life outside of school/work:
My husband Craig and I are originally from Spanish Fork, UT. We still have a lot of family there who really go above and beyond in supporting me in school and helping us with our two daughters, ages 5 and 3. Recently we moved to university housing in Salt Lake. It has been great to be so close to campus, and to have so many neighbors who are also students. The University of Utah has great support for students with families. In spare time, we’ve been exploring all the great parks and museums Salt Lake has to offer and getting to know our new home.

How did you know your path or decide your current path?
Until a few years ago, I had never heard of occupational therapy. When deciding my major, I thought about teaching, counseling, nursing or something else in healthcare. I was torn, because I didn’t really want to choose! Occupational therapy is such a broad field that I can work in schools, hospitals, and mental health settings. The more I researched OT, the more I knew the versatility and the person centered approach were right for me.

What do you think matters more in college: grades or networking?
Both are crucial. However, I think people really tend to underestimate networking. Joining a professional association or student organization geared toward your future profession, helps you be more connected to what is going on outside of your classes. You can find people to emulate, and get to know the needs of clients even before you enter the field. Networking provides me with perspective that reminds me why I’m going to school, and pushes me toward high performance and good grades in class.

Are there any books or other resources that have particularly helped you reach this level of awesomeness?
The most powerful resource I’ve had contributing to my student success is my family. My children give me drive and focus. I don’t want them to have a mom who quits or gives up on her dreams. Craig, my husband, bears the brunt of household responsibilities when I’m facing a mountain of schoolwork. He is also my emotional support when I am feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. My mother is my example and my cheerleader. She recently completed her associate’s degree at UVU. Everyone else, parents, in laws, and siblings, are more than willing to take our daughters and make memories while mom has to stay home and study. When I graduate, I feel as though my degree should be divided up about 20 ways as I have had so much help along the way.

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