Professor promotes unity through occupational therapy

September 06, 2022

professor of occupational therapy valerie strange plays with baby on blue workout ball

Early in life, Valerie Strange '86, MOT '13, DOT '20, established her passion of working with children. She spent summers babysitting and nannying children from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. However, there was one child she looked after who would change her whole perspective on caretaking — a boy with cerebral palsy.

“He taught me that no matter the challenge, we humans have the strength to persevere,” said Strange. “That’s a lesson that I’ve taken with me throughout my life.”

Before joining Quinnipiac's occupational therapy program, Strange was interested in working with children. Shortly after pursuing special education at another college, she realized it wasn’t the right path for her.

“Looking to find my purpose, I visited Quinnipiac and met with Dr. Ruth Griffin, the founding chair of the occupational therapy program,” said Strange. “She inspired me to change majors and I transferred to Quinnipiac.”

After graduating from Quinnipiac in 1986, Strange began her career in neuro-rehab. She then transitioned into occupational therapy within various school districts across Connecticut for an impressive 25 years.

To further her education, Strange came back to Quinnipiac to complete her master’s in occupational therapy. In 2013, following the completion of her master’s degree, she joined the faculty at Quinnipiac as a clinical associate professor of occupational therapy.

While on campus, Strange felt compelled to get involved with the organization Best Buddies, an organization dedicated to supporting the inclusion and leadership development for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

“To me, it was an opportunity to connect; to create friendships that could improve the lives of people who are all too often excluded and isolated,” she said.

Throughout her time at Quinnipiac, Strange continues to describe her experience as fulfilling.

“I’ve been a part of Quinnipiac for nearly 40 years,” she said. “The people I’ve connected with and all my experiences here have provided me a platform to grow. Not only have I earned my undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees in occupational therapy, I have become a committed volunteer of Best Buddies, now serving as the board chair for the entire state of Connecticut. It’s without a doubt, the most powerful experience I’ve ever had.”

Strange’s work with Best Buddies has been very impactful thus far, as she strives to make a positive impact in the community.

“What I love most about my work both in occupational therapy and with Best Buddies is the realization that every one of us is unique — we all have our own backgrounds, challenges and achievements to celebrate,” said Strange. “And yet, everyone has the right to be a contributing member of society. It’s when we all come together, connecting despite our differences, that we are able to really make a positive impact in our communities.” 

Video: Val's story

Val Unleashed

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