Alumni Spotlight: Jordan Salsberry’s Experiences Led to Occupational Therapy

Alumni Feature

Jordan Salsberry is a 2014 graduate of the B.S in Exercise Science program. In this Q&A, she talks about how the University of Pittsburgh prepared her for her career as an Occupational Therapist and her impactful internship experience at the Children’s Institute. Her quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

What path led you to the Pitt School of Education Exercise Science program?

Salsberry: Originally I came to Pitt as a Pharmacy major, but I quickly found out that was not my niche. I applied to a few different programs and ultimately loved the close-knit feel of the Exercise Science program. It's unlike most undergraduate degrees at the University of Pittsburgh in that sense. You truly get to spend two years getting to know your classmates and your professors really well. I knew I wanted to go to occupational therapy school afterwards and felt this degree gave me a great understanding of the body and human movement to get there. 

In what ways did the program prepare you for your current career in occupational therapy?

Salsberry: Pitt Education prepared me with hands-on experiences, especially with my internship at the Children’s Institute. I also now know how prepared I was in the sciences to take on a graduate degree. Another great part of the program at Pitt is the flexibility within the internships. You can take the time to explore what direction you want to take after graduation. Lastly, going to a research-based school is a benefit that is so overlooked. Being able to identify and even participate in ground-breaking research is a skill that helps you be a great clinician. 

Tell us about your internship experience at the Children’s Institute. 

Salsberry: I absolutely loved my time at the Children's Institute, where I worked as the adaptive activity intern. At the day school there, I worked with children who have severe special needs. I fell in love with helping people. I also learned so much from that experience and got to shadow some OTs during my internship, which ultimately led me to wanting to pursue it as a career.

Do you have a favorite memory about when you interned there?

Salsberry: The Children's Institute has water therapy for their kiddo's to swim in during the school day. One day I was working in the pool with  a child who was nonverbal. The pressure of the water on his chest and lungs allowed him to say a few words and repeat after me a few times.  Hearing his little voice for the first time was a moment I will always cherish.

When you were looking at schools to attend, why did you decide to attend Pitt’s program versus other programs?

Salsberry: I truly believe if you want to go into a health care field, Pitt is the only choice. 

Do you have any fun facts about yourself?

Salsberry: I was the president of the Oakland Zoo my senior year! 

Jordan leading the Oakland Zoo in 2014.

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