UA Alumni: Jessica Kennedy
Jess was the overall winner for Social Innovation in 2013. She completed a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy & Science at University College Cork (UCC), Ireland.
She is interested in paediatrics, sensory integration and neuroplasticity. In terms of leisure, she loves barre workouts, audiobooks, travel, anything food-related and playing with Kona Bear, her sheepadoodle puppy.
What are you doing now and what has happened since the award?
After graduating, I worked in Paediatric Clinics in Melbourne and Brisbane before returning back to Ireland. I published my final year research in the Journal of Occupational Science and it was featured on the Huffington Post. I have continued my professional development in areas specific to my clinical practice in the field of Paediatrics.
In 2018, I started my own company, My OT & Me, whereby occupational therapy intervention is completed in the child’s home and school environments. In 2019, we launched the My OT & Me Platform which offers resources, products and education focused on positive child development. We are currently expanding the platform to offer more resources and products to meet the need for home-based therapeutic and accessible supports that are child-centred.
Have you done something fun?
Since the awards, I moved to Australia and while there, I worked as a Governess on a cattle station in the middle of the Queensland where I homeschooled a group of kids through distance education. It was definitely an experience!
What do you like the most about what you do?
I love working with children and using humour, fun and silliness to develop their skills. I love to play so it is the perfect occupation. I also really enjoy the level of innovation and creativity needed for the My OT & Me Platform as it brings a new dynamic and skill-set into my practice.
In the future, I would like to continue working clinically as a Paediatric OT and have a successful online My OT & Me Platform providing telehealth, products, resources and information to a worldwide community.
Has receiving an award for your hard work helped?
It definitely boosts your confidence in terms of your ability and I really do believe that hard work pays off. I think that recognition for hard work is so important and I am extremely lucky to work with amazing families who regularly show their appreciation.
How was your experience as an undergraduate student?
I enjoyed my experience as an undergraduate student and I had excellent support from my supervisor during my final year research. I think third-level education is beneficial for both personal and academic development. After graduation, it was very challenging for OT’s to find employment which was definitely part of the reason why I decided to move to Australia.
What advice would you give students?
Think about the path you would like your career to take and gain the experience necessary to facilitate it. If possible, try to not get too fixated on just ‘getting a job’ because every employment and experience will shape your professional career. Your career will also change a lot which is a great thing and there are so many possibilities now within every role.
"It’s a great way to get recognition for your hard work and it’s also a platform for others to see your research and potentially publish it. It can open up lots of academic possibilities and it's a great way to network with other undergraduates from all over the world."