Mary Kasch Scholarship: It Can Happen to You

Posted by Ashley Coudron DeCo, MOT, OTR/L on 01/20/2020

Starting mid-way through OT school at the University of Florida, I developed a passion for hand therapy. With a lot of job applications and a little luck, I was fortunate to land a job in hand therapy right away at a small clinic is central Florida. I dove head first into this wonderful career path. After a couple years of getting a grasp on the basics, the eligibility requirement moved from five years of work experience to three years, and my timeline shifted. I began to more seriously focus attention on the not-so-distant future, when I would be eligible to sit for the CHT Exam. In January 2019, I made a move from Florida to North Carolina for an 18-month OT hand therapy fellowship program. Knowing the program would finish in June 2020, I set my sights on the May 2020 exam date. 

In researching the varied resources available on the ASHT and HTCC websites, I came across information regarding the Mary Kasch Scholarship and applied. Writing the application essay was a learning and personal-reflection exercise in and of itself, as I articulated my career goals and reviewed the baby steps I had taken thus far to reach them. A short time later, I received notification that I had been chosen and could hardly believe it! Mary Kasch was a true visionary, and one of the leading forces that helped make "hand therapy" what it is today. To be awarded a scholarship in her name is a true honor. I accepted the invitation to the 2019 ASHT conference in Washington, DC where I was able to accept the award in person, while also soaking in everything the conference had to offer. One of the most pleasant surprises was the overwhelming support of the other attendees during the rest of the conference. I was very frequently approached by people offering advice, well wishes and pleasant conversation, which turned into a great networking opportunity! Going forward, the funds awarded will help me attend other continuing education opportunities to strengthen both my knowledge and clinical skills not only in preparation for the CHT Exam, but to ensure best practice in my career as a hand therapist. I could not be more grateful!

To be honest, knowing that the scholarship is open to submissions from across the country, I nearly talked myself out of applying. As can often happen in life, that flicker of "it'll never happen to me" nearly cost me this opportunity. I encourage each and every aspiring CHT to apply! Believe in yourself and others will, too. Thank you again to ASHT, HTCC, and AHTF for believing in me.

The Mary Kasch Hand Therapy Certification Scholarship provides opportunities for professional development by providing financial support to an OT/PT interested in pursuing certification in hand therapy. The application window for the 2020 scholarship is open through March 1, 2020. The award recipient will be notified June 1, 2020 and will be announced to the general public at the ASHT Annual Meeting in the fall. The window for the next scholarship will open January 2021.​ Please visit the Mary Kasch Scholarship page for full eligibility details.