Simoneon

About Mary E. Scholer, OTR/L, Executive Director

Mary E. Scholer, OTR/L

When I was 5 years old, my mom told me that she knew I would become an occupational therapist. She felt I was very creative and she said she was always amazed how I could make something out of nothing. That was more than 50 years ago, when O.T.'s did lots of arts and crafts (at the time, a fun way for adults and children alike to improve their fine motor, self-help/independence skills, while enhancing their self-esteem and sense of productivity). Friends sometimes ask me now if I don't miss working with gold and silver jewelry, welding or working with bronze. My answer is always, unequivocally, "No."

I don't miss my artwork. My creativity is challenged daily while working as an occupational therapist with the little ones.

For the past 29 years, serving these children and their families has been the love and passion of my life!

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Mary E. Scholar's Biography

When I was 5 years old, my mom told me that she knew I would become an occupational therapist. She felt I was very creative and she said she was always amazed how I could make something out of nothing. That was more than 50 years ago, when O.T.'s did lots of arts and crafts (at the time, a fun way for adults and children alike to improve their fine motor, self-help/independence skills, while enhancing their self-esteem and sense of productivity). Friends sometimes ask me now if I don't miss working with gold and silver jewelry, welding or working with bronze. My answer is always, unequivocally, "No."

I don't miss my artwork. My creativity is challenged daily while working as an occupational therapist with the little ones.

For the past 29 years, serving these children and their families has been the love and passion of my life!

Although my mom's intuition was good concerning my career choice, her words and insight had little influence on my decision to become an occupational therapist. It was the relentless torment I endured from my classmates and peers between second and ninth grade that had the strongest impact on my career choice. They reminded me daily that I was "not good enough." I was always fearful of physical challenges, had poor ability with sports skills, had a poor sense of my body in space, was disturbed by the tactile experience of the physical closeness of others, the feel of my clothing, changes in the weather and temperature, feared that sports activities would hurt me and had poor strength and endurance. It was difficult for me to even endure the school day sitting at my desk as I fatigued easily and sought external support for my posture. I was a good student and typically made "A" and "B" grades, but needed to work hard to do that. I was so distracted and emotionally distraught by the kids calling me names and hitting me for my "differentness", that school was a challenge and not a pleasure. It was only after changing schools (in high school), and then college, that being at school was not an emotionally destructive experience.

I continued my pursuit of art in the community college and at Long Beach State. While at State I decided to volunteer next door at the Veteran's Hospital in the occupational therapy department. I was hooked. I soon transferred to San Jose State University to major in Occupational Therapy. It was in my first internship (pediatrics) that I knew this should be my life direction. I was helping children just like me in that internship. After only 3 months working with these kids, they were making astounding changes and their self-esteem was skyrocketing. This was for me - a chance to truly make a difference, to save children from the torment I had endured. I am shaking as I am writing this, bringing back the old memories.

After 29 years and so many children, who are now leading very different lives, I know my earlier torments at the hands of my peers were both a lesson and a blessing. How else could the love in my heart and my passion be so strong?

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