Written by: Phillipa Allen, OTA Graduate, KU West Palm Beach

My name is Phillipa Allen, I was born in the tropical island of Trinidad & Tobago where I was the second born of eight siblings to my wonderful parents, Winston and Vilma Dookie.  My journey began at the age of eight when my father was offered an opportunity for a better career/life.  Little did I know that our travel would board us onto a plane with our destination being the cold country of Canada.  My house was located in a small town of Cambridge where all my childhood and teenage years were enjoyed.  I graduated from high school at Galt Collegiate Institute, and from there I continued to further my education while attending various community colleges. My career lead me to a Senior Secretarial position at a bank in Toronto.

        Years later I married and was blessed with 4 precious children, Kyle, Justin, Brandon and Alysha – they are my world.  My career was then put on hold.  I would now have the pleasure of being a stay home mom to my children.  As time lapsed, my husband, a registered nurse accepted a position at a Rehab Facility in the state of Florida. My four children and I eventually settled down in Port St. Lucie, Florida where I continued to be very involved in their education, transporting them to and from , Catholic school, band , piano lessons, sport events, and finally back home to complete homework.

        No one can predict the future. I experienced a devastating divorce that left me unprepared for a life I was not sure of.  What I was sure of, which made me a stronger person, was the love and support I obtained from my parents, siblings and four children. The last time I was employed was 25 years ago, and because of circumstances I did not continue to pursue my career/education. God had a plan for me which included my three sons.  They registered for the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at Keiser University and arranged an interview for me with a counselor, Miranda Brooks who has assisted us throughout the program. They were more determined now that I was going back to school with them.  I faced major struggles like completing perquisites, as well as maintaining a 3.0 GPA in order to be accepted in the OTA Program.   It was extremely tough, with many late nights.  There were many times I broke down, but I always had the support of my children. My journey was far from being over.

Praise the Lord, in January 2014, I along with my three sons enrolled in the OTA Program.  I never imagined I would be given another opportunity to go back to school. Many challenges were ahead of me to conquer 16 months of strenuous hard work and studying to reach my goal of becoming an OTA. I don’t believe I have ever studied as much as I did, along with the tremendous help of my sons and daughter for this program. Thank you to my parents and family for all their support and love. I would like to send my gratitude to Mrs. Kristin Salvato, Director of the OTA Program, for being a mentor, friend and extraordinary teacher to myself and my three sons.

My journey is now complete; the unimaginable dream of graduating with my three sons, receiving our OTA degree is once in a lifetime.  I was presented with an award for “Outstanding Clinical Performance”.  What an amazing feeling to be the proud mother of four truly wonderful children. Some advice to all the older students, never say never, you are never too old, and most of all don’t give up.  I am looking forward to the next phase of my life!

STUDENTS: Please email your submissions/questions/comments to the ELSE Student Editor, Kayla Bianchi at: [email protected]