By Kate Hunger
A passion for helping people participate more fully in their daily activities drew third-year occupational therapy (OT) students Nestor Gonzalez and Erin Hobbs to the profession.
The daughter of two nurses, Hobbs discovered OT halfway through her undergraduate study as she sought a health care profession that matched her values.
“It’s a profession that really cares about health and quality of life for our clients and patients,” Hobbs said.
Gonzalez, who worked as a rehabilitation technician in a hospital before enrolling in the OT doctoral program, first observed occupational therapists in practice while serving as a Special Olympics volunteer in high school. He was struck by their focus on people’s capabilities rather than limitations.
“Now I know (OT) caters to any population that needs help with independence,” he said. “I am really interested in working with the burn unit population.”
Hobbs and Gonzalez are the 2021 recipients of the Paul D. Ellsworth Endowed Scholarship in Occupational Therapy. The scholarship honors Army Lt. Col. Paul D. Ellsworth, who retired from the occupational therapy faculty in 1998 and passed away in 2016.
“The Paul D. Ellsworth Endowed Scholarship in Occupational Therapy is very important and meaningful to the department because it honors the work of Paul, who was a colleague and mentor to so many OTs,” said Bridgett Piernik-Yoder, PhD, OTR, associate professor and department chair “We are truly grateful that Paul’s wife, Judy Ellsworth, and his daughter Tiffany Ellsworth Lee — both of whom are also occupational therapists — continue to actively support the scholarship fund.
“Erin Hobbs and Nestor Gonzalez are excellent representatives of the department and the profession, so it is wonderful to see them supported by Paul’s legacy through the 2021 scholarship award,” she said.
The $1,250 scholarship comes at a key time for Hobbs and Gonzalez, who are in their final year of the OT program and have schedules packed with clinical rotations and doctoral capstone experiences.
“I have worked multiple jobs through undergrad and graduate school to make sure I am setting myself up in a good financial position, and this scholarship really helps,” Hobbs said.
To contribute to the Paul D. Ellsworth Endowed Scholarship in Occupational Therapy fund, please visit https://makelivesbetter.uthscsa.edu/ellsworth.