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Ryan Lavalley

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I was an occupational therapy major throughout both my undergraduate and masters level courses at Xavier. I participated in an Academic Service Learning Semester to Nicaragua in the spring of 2010, a service-learning trip to Guatemala with the XU OT department in 2011, and finally, along with my Brueggeman Fellowship, completed a portion of my fieldwork for my occupational therapy degree in Guatemala. Additionally, during my time at Xavier I was an active member of Labre, a group of students who regularly visited people living on the streets of downtown Cincinnati, as well as other groups focused on discussing and exploring social justice and change, including Contemplatives in Action, the Social Justice Apartments, the Worker Rights Consortium Movement, and Urban Plunges. These experiences shaped and flavored my career trajectory towards an interest in social sciences, community development, and social change. I graduated from Xavier in 2013 with a Masters in Occupational Therapy and a minor in Peace Studies.

Fellowship Experience

 For my fellowship, I chose to return to Guatemala and Nicaragua to study and better understand the structural and contextual factors affecting the practice and delivery of occupational therapy within those countries so as to better educate and prepare future OT volunteers who travel to these countries about the contexts and cultural differences their patients might be facing there. I participated in the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology – Occupational Therapy Field School (NAPA-OT) in Antigua, Guatemala and worked in the National Rehabilitation Hospital Aldo Chavarría in Managua, Nicaragua. I wanted to understand how and if occupational therapy had claimed a specifically Guatemalan or Nicaragua flavor through its relationship with diverse cultural foundations.

My final presentation can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLFKz0kvkjo

What They're Doing Now

After teaching Occupational Justice with Dr. Carol Scheerer at Xavier for a semester and acting as the coordinator for the NAPA-OT Field School in the summer of 2014, I began a PhD program in occupational science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill in the fall. Through my experiences both in my undergraduate years with Labre and other groups, as well as my exploration of OT in foreign settings, I discovered a desire to explore and understand the meaning and value of our idea of “occupation” and its potential effects on communities, social justice, and social change. After planning and executing my research through the Brueggeman Fellowship, I fell in love with the research process and the idea of exploring the ways we humans do things. Therefore, I am excited to pursue my current research interests of collective occupations, community occupations, and change through occupation on a community level.

Contact Info

Email: Ryan_Lavalley@med.unc.edu



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