Outfield to Occupational Therapy: Katelyn Hinson '13 Forges a New Path
Whether it’s playing left, right, or center field for the Spring Hill College softball team, Katelyn Hinson is well known for adapting to a challenge and getting the job done. Proof of that is easy to find. Hinson helped lead the Lady Badgers to their first-ever national championship appearance before her graduation in May 2013.
As a senior at Cottage Hill Christian Academy in Mobile, Ala., Hinson was recruited to Spring Hill College by head softball coach Alison Sellers-Cook. “I came on a visit to campus and loved it. It’s such a great school,” said Hinson. “I worked out with the softball team, and really connected with the coach and the players.”
Hinson added that her participation on the softball team was invaluable for learning time management and setting priorities. “I finished homework before and after practice, riding on the bus to games, and typing on my laptop whenever I could to finish papers,” said Hinson. “Any free time I had, I spent studying.”
Sellers-Cook said Hinson’s hard work on and off the field has paid off. “She’s always been one to balance her time as a student-athlete so that she could be successful in both areas. Katelyn has grown and molded into a well-rounded person and has been a blessing to be around. She’s been a supporter of her teammates and of this program, always striving for the best.”
For Hinson, striving for the best also included forging a new career path. “I’ve always been interested in health care, but was undecided on my major. Things fell into place when I took Dr. Jamie Franco-Zamudio’s Introduction to Psychology class. It was never a burden to study and I was always excited about the material.”
From there, Hinson developed an acute interest in occupational therapy (OT), which is not a major offered at Spring Hill. “But by working with my advisor, Dr. Franco-Zamudio, and Dr. Debbie Fox in the nursing department, I was able to meet my degree requirements for psychology and still get in all of the prerequisites needed to pursue a career as an occupational therapist.”
Hinson had spent time researching OT for classroom assignments, but felt she needed field work to experience the day-to-day aspects of the job. After sending out emails and applications to hospitals throughout Mobile, Hinson was offered an internship position with ProHealth in the fall of 2012.
At ProHealth, Hinson reported to Bart Benson, manager of rehab services for Infirmary Health Systems. Benson runs clinics in speech, physical, and occupational therapy for patients recovering from accidents, strokes, and other debilitating conditions.
“As an intern, Katelyn was great. She’s motivated and has a high work ethic. Katelyn made relationships fast and was eager to help in any way she could,” said Benson. “Though, as an intern, she wasn’t able to perform direct patient therapy, she was always out there on the floor getting as involved as much as she could. Her assistance helped the clinic run more efficiently.”
Observing measureable patient results solidified Hinson’s choice to pursue occupational therapy. “People came in the clinic after losing motion in their arms and hands. They have to re-learn how to function on their own again,” explained Hinson. “That’s where occupational therapy comes in. I saw significant results; definite improvements in patients’ quality of life.”
Right now, Hinson is busy applying to occupational therapy graduate schools, among them the University of South Alabama, Louisiana State University in New Orleans, and Brenau University in Georgia.
“It’s an extremely competitive process. In many of the programs, of hundreds of students who apply, only two dozen or so are accepted,” said Hinson. “I’m so grateful to my professors who wrote me letters of recommendation. I’m excited about this new part of my life, but will definitely miss my friends and teachers at Spring Hill.”