Mary Nestor, Pediatric Occupational Therapist

Hometown: Warrensburg, MO

Current City: Kansas City, MO

Graduation Year: 2014

Major: Psychology

Sorority: Kappa Alpha Theta

What other degrees have you earned?

Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Belmont University in 2017

Please describe your current work.

As a pediatric occupational therapist, I work with pediatric clients from birth to 21 to help them reach functional goals and outcomes using a play-based approach. I provide evaluation, treatment, consultation and education to children, families and caregivers to help children build functional skills, improve quality of life and reach their full potential. I currently provide occupational therapy services in both a private practice outpatient clinic, called Playabilities for Sensational Kids, and in a nontraditional outpatient facility (a horse barn!) called Heartland Therapy Services, LLC, utilizing hippotherapy as a treatment approach.

What are your future goals?

I want to continue to travel, explore and learn. One day I would like to own my own pediatric practice utilizing hippotherapy and animal-assisted therapy as treatment approaches. I would also love to buy a home and start a family.

In terms of your professional life, what would you say is your overarching purpose today?

I believe my professional purpose is to serve and support others. I assist families and children in finding and utilizing their strengths to participate in meaningful occupations and activities.

How did your time at Westminster help you find that purpose?

Westminster is a service-oriented institution that inherently teaches its students to be servant leaders throughout liberal arts courses, service-learning projects and student life. As a freshman at Westminster, I knew I wanted to pursue a helping career.  Westminster guided me to pair my desire to help others with my passion for learning and science, which led to a career that is highly research led, evidenced based and centered on helping others participate in occupations that are meaningful to them.

Were any relationships you formed at Westminster particularly influential in helping you find clarity of purpose?

All of the relationships I built at Westminster were tremendously helpful in finding my purpose and path. The faculty whom I most admired and respected challenged me to think critically and solve problems, which are skills I now use daily as a clinician. My close friends and sisters in Kappa Alpha Theta inspired me to put others before myself and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves through Theta’s work with our national philanthropy, CASA. All of these relationships and experiences have molded me into the woman I am today.

What does being a “leader” mean to you?

My definition and vision of a leader continues to develop with each passing stage of my life. I think there are many ways to be a leader, and Westminster teaches its students the strengths and benefits of many different types of leadership. Westminster instilled in me the importance of leadership and gave me the strength and confidence to stand up for what I believe in but also the knowledge and humbleness to lead by example and follow others’ leadership as well.

What does success mean to you?

To me, being successful is doing what you love and sharing that success, the things you are passionate about, with others.

What is it about Westminster that makes it the kind of community that empowers students to discover their purpose and find success?

Westminster attracts and engages students who are driven, achieving and compassionate. Once at Westminster, there are numerous opportunities and events for students to discover what they are passionate about and find a community of others who share those interests. When we are able to find others who share our interests and passions, it naturally inspires us to find our purpose and shapes our goals and purpose.

Do you recommend Westminster to prospective college students?

I always have and will continue to recommend Westminster to prospective college students, not only for the superior education I received there, but for the experience. I made some of my best friends at Westminster College and had some of the most challenging, yet amazing, experiences that I likely would not have pursued at a bigger university. These include planning a Westminster Homecoming, playing on the Westminster tennis team and joining a sorority.

Favorite Westminster faculty member(s)?

It’s impossible to pick just one! Dr. David Collins, Dr. Ted Jaeger and Dr. Maureen Tuthill, just to name a few.

Favorite spot on campus?

The Quad

Last book you read?

*Listened to* Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (for probably the 10th time)

Favorite movie or TV show?

Currently binging Peaky Blinders

Favorite app?

*That I spend the most/too much time on* Instagram

Favorite way to spend a Sunday?

With friends and family cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs, preferably at Arrowhead Stadium

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.