Jenny Halchin Story Cabarrus
After teaching special education in K-12 schools, Jenny Halchin, OTA '19, current Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MOT) student and Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) instructor, realized that it was not what she wanted to do forever. She had interacted with occupational therapists at school and was drawn to the practical skills and hands-on work they did with her students. This led her to explore her options and eventually enroll in the OTA program at Cabarrus College.

Halchin decided that going the OTA route first made more sense for her because she needed several prerequisites to apply to a master's level occupational therapy program. She recalls touring the college during a campus visit day event and speaking with OTA program chair, Nancy Green. “I have strong memories of Nancy as has anyone who has been in the program the past 20 years. She is the lifeblood of this program,” said Halchin. 

Halchin was part of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) during her time as an OTA student. The purpose of the organization is to promote the occupational therapy profession and provide service to the community through student activities. Students are encouraged to influence current issues affecting the occupational therapy profession through their involvement in the Annual National Student Conclave and the annual North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association conferences and events. Halchin now leads the SOTA club as an advisor with the most endearing legacy of SOTA being a way to tie the cohorts together through educational opportunities and community service projects.

She was also a part of volunteer efforts at Wings of Eagles Ranch, a volunteer initiative that the OTA program participates in each summer to this day to provide professional expertise working as counselors. At Wings, therapeutic horses serve as unique vehicles for exercising campers’ bodies and minds providing physical, mental and emotional rewards. She continues to participate each summer at Wings as a leader and mentor for her OTA students.

After graduating from the OTA program in 2019, Halchin worked for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and grew tremendously as a person. She made many contacts and some of her closest friends are still therapists she met while working there. She came back to Cabarrus College as an OTA instructor and decided to further her education in 2023 by enrolling in Cabarrus College’s MOT program because it allowed her to work full-time at the college while studying. “ I can do the online portions during the week, and I must only be on campus every third weekend. There are very few programs in the country that offer an option like this specifically for certified OTAs,” said Halchin.

Halchin is now about to become a double alumna of Cabarrus College when she graduates in 2025 and is considering pursuing a Ph.D. in the future. She is interested in research, academia, and clinical work, and is open to opportunities in leadership positions within the occupational therapy field.

Throughout her journey, Halchin has learned the value of occupational therapy assistants and the unique perspective they bring to the healthcare team. She encourages others to recognize the importance of their role and to not underestimate their contributions to the profession. “OTAs are like the foot soldiers of our profession, and they're really needed, and we have a unique perspective because of the way we're trained. I just cannot overstate the value of an occupational therapy assistant in healthcare,” Halchin said.

Halchin’s story is a testament to the power of perseverance, dedication, and the pursuit of one's passions. Her journey serves as an inspiration to others considering a career in occupational therapy or a change in their professional path.