Student Spotlight: Johanna Hartwell
Johanna Hartwell is a senior in the Bachelors of Health Science Program with plans to attend the Master of Occupational Therapy Program here at the University of Florida. Her health care education began at Gainesville High School where she was a student in the Institute of Health Professions Program and completed her CNA license with plans to pursue a career in nursing. Johanna completed her first two years of undergrad at Santa Fe College where her love for Human Anatomy blossomed. As she continued her studies, she had the opportunity to work in various health care settings beginning with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Pediatric Genetics at UF, and finally the Emergency Department at North Florida Regional Medical Center. Though these areas she began to recognize her passion for a long-term interaction with patients, which led her to discover the world of Occupational Therapy.
Johanna transferred to the University of Florida in the summer of 2015. Through the Student Occupational Therapy Association, she learned of Hands to Love, a nonprofit for children with upper limb differences, and she applied to be a camp counselor. Through a twist of fate, Johanna was hired and has worked with the organization for the last year. Since her first experience at Hand Camp she has learned a great deal regarding how resilient children can be and what can be done to enhance each child’s life experience. She was especially taken by the determination seen in the eyes of these young campers as they took on the three-story rock wall. Hands to Love has taught her that it’s not what you are born without that matters, it’s the determination, passion and fire that you are born with that counts.
This past summer Johanna traveled with the Hands to Love team to serve as an assistant swim coach at NubAbility Athletics in Illinois. This camp is coached predominately by athletes with various upper and lower extremity limb differences and serves more than 100 campers with congenital and acquired limb differences. Their catch phrase “Don’t Need Two to Beat You” could not be a better fit. Between adaptive equipment for various work outs and the encouragement of coaches and parents each camper pushed themselves to improve their athleticism in their sport of choice.
This year Johanna has the privilege of serving as president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA). Every month she looks forward to the opportunity to inspire students through the facilitation of guest speakers, as well sharing our upcoming service, social, and fundraising events scheduled by our e-board members. These last few months she has especially enjoyed collaborating with the e-board to create opportunities for current members. Aside from her duties with SOTA, Johanna is a returning mentor in L.E.A.P. (Lead. Educate. Advocate. Philanthropy.). This organization has provided her the chance to get to know students who are considering occupational therapy and offer insight to the college of Public Health and Health Professions. In addition to her course work, Johanna also serves as a research assistant studying barriers in adherence in Type I Diabetes. Each week she visits the Pediatric Endocrinology clinic to discuss our studies with parents and teens with the hopes of enrolling them.
When she’s not studying, Johanna enjoys practicing yoga, running, and biking around the Gainesville area. Each weekend you can find her outside boating, kayaking, or swimming in one of the many Florida waterways with her eight-year-old son and her husband.
After earning her Masters in Occupational Therapy, Johanna intends to specialize in Hand Therapy. She hopes to work in the clinic with children and adults to eventually use her clinical knowledge as a teacher in hopes of inspiring future generations of aspiring occupational therapists like herself.