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Student demonstrates meaning of university's motto

When KatyBeth Mailleue finishes the requirements to receive her master’s degree in occupational therapy (OT) in December, she will do so thanks to incredible hard work and the support and encouragement of her family, friends, colleagues, and classmates.

Mailleue, of Mooresville, N.C., is juggling a lot. While maintaining a 3.78 GPA in one of the university’s most rigorous academic programs, Mailleue is also holding down a barista/bartender job. On top of everything else, she serves as the primary care provider for her husband, who is in need of an organ transplant.

“My journey through OT school has been much harder than I ever expected,” said Mailleue. “My husband has stayed in the hospital the majority of my time at WSSU. So I kept a job I had hoped to leave during school in order to pay for medical bills.”

But she’s not complaining. It’s not in her nature. Mailleue says she has had more love and support poured over her than she ever expected. She says her mother and father have always supported her goals and shown her the meaning of sacrificial love. Her coworkers and members of her church stepped up time and time again. Meanwhile, her classmates were a constant source of encouragement.

She says one of her classmates, Paula Graham, visited Mailleue’s husband in the hospital multiple times over the past two years. Another classmate, Hannah Tyler, brought her healthy meals to eat when she knew Mailleue was staying overnight in the hospital for weeks at a time.

“When I walk across the stage to receive my graduate degree it will be because of grace, not just my own efforts,” she said.

That drive to give back is what prompted her to lead an effort to purchase new beds for residents at Winston Summit Apartments, a facility in Winston-Salem that houses senior citizens and the disabled.

Her placement at Winston Summit was an OT community fieldwork assignment to learn more about the role occupational therapy plays in various settings. When she learned some of the residents she was working with needed new beds, Mailleue sprang into action. She organized a fundraising effort to purchase beds, getting her classmates, WSSU’s School of Health Sciences, and other campus organizations to donate.

“Upon hearing the need for assistance in purchasing beds for residents at Winston Summit, I immediately thought of our lectures on advocacy and social justice,” said Mailleue. “As occupational therapists, we are charged with eliminating health disparities and creating programs for at risk populations. Here was an opportunity to practice those very skills.”

The fundraising effort brought in enough to purchase eight beds and box springs.

“I would like to say thanks to KatyBeth for leading the way,” said Audrey Ryan, service coordinator at Winston Summit. “I remember KatyBeth telling me that she was only trying to do what she thought she should.”

Ryan told her that she understood what it is like to struggle and that she believed in WSSU’s motto: Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve.

“The nice thing about the students at WSSU is, as students, they are already serving the underserved,” Ryan said. “It warms my heart to know these students will depart making the world a little bit better.”

Mailleue said that after her graduation, she and her husband plan to move to Cleveland, Ohio, where she hopes to find a position as an occupational therapist either in a burn center or a teaching hospital.

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