Impacting the Future

Siarah Jones, OTD ‘24, is working towards a career in pediatric occupational therapy.
Siarah Jones portrait

Siarah Jones is a proud graduate of a K-8 Montessori School, which focuses on creative expression and independent, self-directed learning. “We had free range to move around the classroom and our tables were arranged in funky shapes like trapezoids and ovals,” Jones recalls. “There were different learning tools for us to explore, and differences in terms of problem-solving and creativity were celebrated. It helped me to develop a lifelong love of learning.”

As a second year entry-level occupational therapy doctoral student at Tufts, Jones is applying her love of learning to the field of OT.  She was accepted into the program after finishing her undergraduate degree at DePaul University where she studied psychology with a concentration in cognitive neuroscience with double minors in biology and exceptionality in learning.

Jones was first introduced to the field of OT in an unconventional way. “It was my senior year of high school and I wanted to make sure the college I picked aligned with my career goals,” she says. “I knew I wanted to work in healthcare, but I didn’t necessarily want to be a doctor or nurse. When I read the description of occupational therapy in a career guidebook, I immediately loved the values the field espouses, like considering the whole person, developing personal connections, and helping people to achieve their goals. Ever since I read that book, I have been stuck on occupational therapy.”

At Tufts, Jones is focusing on pediatrics in preparation for a career working with children. “I’ve always known I wanted to work with kids,” she says. “My mom ran a daycare, so I’ve been around a lot of children. They always brighten my day and put a smile on my face. They remind you to be present and mindful. Kids are the future, so if you’ve made a positive impact with them, you’ve made a positive impact on the future.”

Jones has undertaken a number of courses, fieldwork placements, and projects that are preparing her for a career in pediatric OT. She completed fieldwork placements in a school setting and a physical dysfunction setting, and is beginning a placement in a maternal-infant mental healthcare setting this spring. Jones also worked on a project exploring the potential role of OTs to support children living with Sickle Cell disease and is interested in the nontraditional, emerging branches of occupational therapy.

“I’d describe the Tufts program as a staircase,” she says. “You come in ready to start an adventure and the only direction you can go is up. There are so many opportunities to explore and I love how the program is scaffolded. I’m really seeing things come together in terms of my knowledge and growth as a future practitioner.”

Jones credits her Tufts professors with encouraging her and affirming her ideas and interests. “So many of my classes have been influential,” she says. “There’s too many great professors to name them all, but I’m very grateful for the support from my advisor Peggy Morris, who encouraged me to pursue the Advanced Professional Certification in School-Based Practice in addition to my doctorate.”

This January, Jones represented Tufts at The Winter School in Zurich, Switzerland, a global conference bringing together OTs from across the world. She served as a panelist speaking on the future of the field of OT. “Being on the panel was an amazing experience,” she says. “I was surrounded by more established practitioners and it can be hard to voice your thoughts in front of people who are more senior than you, but it was so rewarding. I was able to be a voice, not only for myself, but for the other students in the room.”

Jones is expected to graduate with her doctorate next spring and looks forward to “becoming an occupational therapist and making a difference in the world.” She sees herself as an agent of change and hopes to be an inspiration to others.