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Kassandra Bout

1045

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

Bio

I am a first-generation college student who has completed my bachelor's and am moving on to my doctorate. I aspire to be an occupational therapist for LGBTQIA+ teens with mental health struggles.

Education

Chatham University

Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)
2024 - 2027
  • Majors:
    • Social Sciences, Other

Duquesne University

Bachelor's degree program
2018 - 2023
  • Majors:
    • Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, Other
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      occupational therapy

    • Dream career goals:

    • Banquet Server

      The Duquesne Club
      2018 – 20224 years
    • Patient Care Technician

      The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
      2022 – Present2 years
    • Care Manager

      Sunrise Assisted Living
      2020 – 20211 year
    • Assistant Teacher

      The Goddard School
      2020 – 20211 year

    Sports

    Field Hockey

    Club
    2018 – 20191 year

    Softball

    Junior Varsity
    2014 – 20184 years

    Awards

    • All Academic

    Softball

    Intramural
    2008 – Present16 years

    Arts

    • School Band

      Music
      2010 – 2018

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Camp Soar — Counselor
      2017 – 2022
    • Volunteering

      Best Buddies — Peer Buddy
      2018 – 2022
    • Volunteering

      Special Olympics — Coach/peer buddy
      2019 – 2021
    John Young 'Pursue Your Passion' Scholarship
    Passion is defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” When I think about my future career in occupational therapy, this definition perfectly encapsulates the feelings I have towards the profession. Altruism and generosity were some of the characteristics instilled in me by my mother and father whom both worked in helping professions; my mother was a childcare provider and my father served in the Navy as a Seabee. These professions both serve others and require a varying degrees of compassion and selflessness for serving others. Consequently, from early on in childhood, I’ve always had a passion for helping others. I volunteered throughout high school with individuals with special needs, in the classroom, at sporting events, and at overnight summer camps. I found joy in helping these individuals accomplish the things they needed and wanted to do. Through research of how this could be made into a career, I learned about the field of occupational therapy. Fast forward and I have now completed my undergraduate degree in health sciences, making me the first person in my family to attend and graduate college. I will be continuing on to graduate school in the fall to get my doctorate of occupational therapy degree. I hope to use this degree to continue to help people. I hope to do so by making a difference in each of my patient’s lives. The amazing thing about occupational therapy is that the field is incredibly holistic and versatile. As a practitioner, I will be able to help my patients overcome barriers in their lives, whether they be emotional, physical, environmental or social in nature. I will help my patients regain meaning and purpose in their life that has been stripped from them due to disability or environmental or social factors. I will ultimately help my patients do the things that matter most to them, making a positive impact on each patient each day. I would particularly like to work with either veterans with physical or mental disabilities or with teenagers with mental health struggles. These two groups are especially vulnerable as I know first hand from being the child of a seaman and from having gone through my own mental health struggles. People who identify with these two populations can really use someone to be in their corner and I want to be that person. Eventually, I would also like to use my knowledge from my career and move into teaching future occupational therapy practitioners. I have had so many great role models throughout my college career when it mattered most. As an individual who struggles with mental illness, a first generation student and someone who identifies as a sexual minority, I know first hand how important it is to have role models and mentors during the incredibly difficult time that college can be. I’d like to be encouragement and support for future students who need someone on their team.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    Four and a half years ago, I was in the lowest, darkest point in my life. I was filled with sadness, emptiness, loneliness, and anxiety, among other troubling emotions. What I now know was untreated depression, anxiety, and OCD, was plaguing every aspect of my life. On December 2nd, in the early hours of the morning, I had lost complete hope and believed my only way out was suicide. So, I attempted to take my own life. I was hospitalized the last two weeks of the fall 2019 semester and returned home for Christmas break. I had fought so hard and wasn't going to let this adversity stop me. I came up with an action plan with my professors to finish my fall courses during the beginning of the spring 2020 semester, while also beginning new courses. I did an intake for an intensive outpatient mental health treatment program and began doing group therapy, individual therapy, and medication management for 9 hours a week for the next few months, while still attending full time university. This program helped me learn coping skills to navigate my mental illnesses. I was still experiencing overwhelming symptoms of my mental illnesses, so I decided to put myself and my health first and take a medical leave of absence for the 2020-2021 school year. I participated in inpatient hospitalization, weekly therapies and an intensive outpatient program that was preceded by a partial hospitalization program while I took time away from school. I stabilized my immediate mental health crisis but would later learn there were deeper subjects that were also troubling me. I was able to return during the 2021-2022 school year to continue my studies and had a successful year and a half, which subsequently resulted in another break from school. During this time, I was hospitalized again for suicidal ideation and worsening anxiety symptoms. Through introspection and self-reflection, I understood and began to process more of my experiences and triggers that often fell in the background during an acute mental health crisis; The "deeper subjects" I previously referred to. I began exploring and discussing my sexuality and gender identity as well as self-esteem and body image. I have learned to be comfortable with identifying as a queer, non-binary person and am still working on loving me for me. I discussed and processed a childhood worth of trauma; of not having essentials like clothes and food; of not having hot water or electricity; of constant yelling and fighting and of continual emotional and physical abuse. Most importantly, I discussed how these things affected me and continue to affect me in my everyday life. I learned how to cope with these triggers and to move past them. in I was able to return back to school for my last semester and complete my bachelor's degree in December of 2023. I became the first person in my family to not only attend but to graduate from college. Although the process took me longer than I would have liked, I am proud of myself for fighting for myself and my wellbeing. I have spent countless hours in therapies to better myself and prepare for my future; A future that I am now grateful to have a chance at. I unfortunately could have been one of the many LGBTQIA+ young adults who complete a suicide attempt. These experiences have now led me on a path that I am very excited for. I will be attending graduate school at Chatham University starting in the fall of 2024 for my Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree. I plan to use my past experiences not only to continue to take care of myself but also to connect with and empathize with my future clients. My dream career in occupational therapy is to work with LGBTQIA+ teens experiencing mental health struggles. Graduate school certainly won't be easy, but I feel equipped to handle any adversities thrown my way because I have made it through 100 percent of the battles I've faced.
    Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award
    Four and a half years ago, I was in the lowest, darkest point in my life. I was filled with sadness, emptiness, loneliness, and anxiety, among other troubling emotions. What I now know was untreated depression, anxiety, and OCD, was plaguing every aspect of my life. On December 2nd, in the early hours of the morning, I had lost complete hope and believed my only way out was suicide. So, I attempted to take my own life. I was hospitalized the last two weeks of the fall 2019 semester and returned home for Christmas break. I had fought so hard and wasn't going to let this adversity stop me. I came up with an action plan with my professors to finish my fall courses during the beginning of the spring 2020 semester, while also beginning new courses. I did an intake for an intensive outpatient mental health treatment program and began doing group therapy, individual therapy, and medication management for 9 hours a week for the next few months, while still attending full time university. This program helped me learn coping skills to navigate my mental illnesses. I was still experiencing overwhelming symptoms of my mental illnesses, so I decided to put myself and my health first and take a medical leave of absence for the 2020-2021 school year. I participated in inpatient hospitalization, weekly therapies and an intensive outpatient program that was preceded by a partial hospitalization program while I took time away from school. I stabilized my immediate mental health crisis but would later learn there were deeper subjects that were also troubling me. I was able to return during the 2021-2022 school year to continue my studies and had a successful year and a half, which subsequently resulted in another break from school. During this time, I was hospitalized again for suicidal ideation and worsening anxiety symptoms. Through introspection and self-reflection, I understood and began to process more of my experiences and triggers that often fell in the background during an acute mental health crisis; The "deeper subjects" I previously referred to. I began exploring and discussing my sexuality and gender identity as well as self-esteem and body image. I have learned to be comfortable with identifying as a queer, non-binary person and am still working on loving me for me. I was able to return back to school for my last semester and complete my bachelor's degree in December of 2023. I became the first person in my family to not only attend but to graduate from college. Although the process took me longer than I would have liked, I am proud of myself for fighting for myself and my wellbeing. I have spent countless hours in therapies to better myself and prepare for my future; A future that I am now grateful to have a chance at. I unfortunately could have been one of the many LGBTQIA+ young adults who complete a suicide attempt. These experiences have now led me on a path that I am very excited for. I will be attending graduate school at Chatham University starting in the fall of 2024 for my Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree. I plan to use my past experiences not only to continue to take care of myself but also to connect with and empathize with my future clients. My dream career in occupational therapy is to work with LGBTQIA+ teens experiencing mental health struggles. Graduate school certainly won't be easy, but I feel equipped to handle any adversities thrown my way because I have made it through 100 percent of the battles I've faced.