With its palm trees and sunshine all year round, the Ruskin campus is spoiled with summer weather for most of the school year, but the hard work doesn’t stop. For the first time in a year, the students and faculty were able to have a bit of a break while still focusing on laying the foundation for another productive semester.  A survey taken of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate students and their summer plans revealed that most spent their time working or volunteering, enjoying quality time family and friends, traveling, and working on research that began this previous spring semester. Some students stayed local in the Ruskin area and others headed north until mid-August for the fall semester.

We have quite an eager and adventurous group of students and faculty at the Ruskin campus. Jenna Raber and Christina Iannello have both been crossing adventures off of their Florida bucket list and conducting research in Venice and Sarasota with Dr. Valdes’ clinic. Dr. Valdes has completed two research articles which have been accepted for publication in the Journal of Hand Therapy, while working on the courses to come in the fall. Dr. Connelly has also been focusing on fall classes and ACOTA accreditation. Dr. Lunsford represented Gannon University well, attending and presenting at the first ever combined conference of the Council Occupational Therapists from European Countries (COTEC) and European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education (ENOTHE) 2016, in Galway, Ireland. I personally spent part of my summer overseas in Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic, working in a clinical setting with children and geriatric patients with physical and cognitive disabilities.
Whitney in Jarabacoa

Many of Gannon’s students give up their time serving their respective local communities. For example, Samantha Barley has been volunteering in the Tampa area with Kids and Canines, taking care of one of their therapy dogs. Rachel Smith has been volunteering at a therapeutic riding center in between working multiple jobs and doing OT readings. Meghan Billick donated 16 inches of her hair to Wigs for Kids and her gift of gorgeous hair shows just how beautiful her heart is.

“My heart is so full knowing my hair will someday be a full head of hair for a child in need,” expressed Meghan.

Meghan Billick
Many exciting changes have taken place in our class, including three engagements! Caitlin Smith, Adele Campbell, and Alexa Richter (pictured below) will all be showing off some new bling when they get back to campus.


The Ruskin campus has also been transforming, as it prepares for the OTD orientation and boot camp, inclusion of additional community partnerships, and updates to our labs. Desi Herter, our graduate recruiter, has been working hard on these updates and improvements, but is also enjoying concerts, weddings and traveling north.

As this summer comes to a close, the GU Ruskin Campus is excited to welcome a new group of students.

Stay tuned for GU happenings this fall in Florida!