Student Spotlight: Nicole Martell
My name is Nicole Martell and I am currently a junior in the Bachelor of Health Science Pre-Occupational Therapy program. Along with my major, I am completing the Disabilities in Society minor this semester. My career intentions are to work as an Occupational Therapist, specializing in Pediatrics.
The influential impact steering me toward my career goal occurred when I found out my best friend’s sister was diagnosed with Down syndrome, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), and microphage activation syndrome. I observed Occupational Therapists come into her home weekly and this sparked my interest into a health related field. Currently, I visit her at UF Health Shands Hospital monthly where she is receiving treatments for her arthritis. The feeling of frustration she is experiencing, physically and mentally, made me yearn to assist her.
My passion and dedication to assist individuals with disabilities only flourished when I began college. Speaking in terms of my own personal observations of children with Smith-Lemli-Opitz Syndrome (SLOS), an inherited error of cholesterol synthesis, I take care of two boys that were diagnosed with SLOS during the first months of their lives. As I have been working with these boys for over two years, I have gained experience and knowledge that will further assist my educational career. I learn something new about these children every single day; whether it is as small as them learning a new technique on how to splash me when I am giving them a bath or something as big as assisting them to change their clothes independently and the challenges of g-tube feeding. Just being able to help them learn how to ride a three-wheel bike has brought me joy.
University of Florida has afforded me many exciting extracurricular opportunities. I am a committee member of the Sidney Lanier Fitness and Research program. My involvement initially began at the Sidney Lanier Center where I observed and worked in a classroom with students with disabilities ages 13 to 17. From there, I continued volunteering with the Sidney Lanier Fitness and Research program where I coordinated physical fitness workouts for the students and accumulated over 400 hours working with these incredible individuals. Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to work with patients with Tourette’s syndrome and observe in the Hand Therapy and Movement Disorders Clinic. I learned many exciting techniques and observed Parkinson’s and Stroke patients receiving therapy. Numerous mentors have assisted me and I am so grateful to be a part of this Gator Nation. In my spare time, I also serve as the President of the Women’s Club Soccer team and am a member of the Society of Occupational Therapists Association (SOTA).
Throughout working with these amazing individuals I have learned that the word “disability” does not stop their “abilities” each and every day. I am excited about what the future holds for me as I continue to learn more. Ultimately, I cannot wait to share and help others as I pursue my goal of becoming an Occupational Therapist.