Hi y’all, I’m Shannen!!
*Post updated: June 2019* My purpose for sharing “About Me” comes from my attempt at being vulnerable as well as my OT philosophy that every person (including me) brings one’s personal journey, learned experiences, values, traditions, etc into whatever situation the person is participating in at that moment. Thus, I feel it is important for each of us to self reflect on the compilation of stories in our upbringing that represent our transformation as we move from one stage to the next. (Can you tell I promOTe increasing self awareness as a consistent goal for my patients??!!)
Early – Middle Childhood:
I was born in Colorado and even went to kindergarten in Hawaii, but I consider the Mississippi Gulf Coast to be home -> I definitely am a Southern girl! I grew up around a bunch of boy cousins and my brother #onlygirlproblems and so I begrudgingly thank them for increasing my love for sports/making me “be one of the guys” during childhood and adolescence. Side bar–as a child -I’m talking like before second grade-my dad would take me to the park to do assisted pull-ups and run with him so I guess I can thank him too for instilling fitness as an important lifestyle choice from early childhood onward.
I have always been a morning person. From as early as I can remember throughout elementary school, my internal alarm would wake me up at 6am (who does that as a child????) and I would read for an hour (always have had a love for reading) before school. My personality became very type A (still is); my passion for reading (and writing) stems from both internal and external mOTIvating factors.
- Intrinsic /internal motivation: I desired to read so that I could pretend to live the adventurous lifestyles of the characters in my books
- Extrinsic /external motivation:
- lovely, colorful buttons one received for meeting a certain number of AR points to wear proudly on your lanyard -yup I was one of those kids who wanted to have the most buttons -500 point club anyone!!???
- the more books I read, the more books my parents would buy (yup, my parents bribed me with books #thanksmomanddad)
Back in the day, I thought I was so cool (jk was never in the cool crowd where girls wore matching outfits from Limited 2….) because my mom allowed all of the kids to play four square in our driveway while we awaited the bus. Also my mom was actually the coolest parent on the block – she slaved away to make certain that fresh lemonade and other snacks were ready each morning for the neighborhood bus stop in prep for school –The good ole days.
Early – Late Adolescence
A few weeks after beginning seventh grade Hurricane Katrina made her mark and changed the world as I knew it. The Storm demolished my cousin’s home and parts of my community as well. Our house was okay with minor damage, but we were out of school for a month, learned to shower with water bottles, ate MREs and canned foods, learned that sweat smells even worse when there is no power or AC, crammed four families plus grandparents in an RV and a house, prayed, and watched our city unite together to rebuild and restore purpose (more on this life event in a future post (***OTs role in natural disasters). -That was a mouthful.
My love for sports continued from middle school to high school to eventually college. I credit my middle school soccer coach and teammates for convincing me to run cross country in eighth grade (legit didn’t know what cross country was in seventh grade) which was required to tryout for junior varsity and varsity soccer after junior high season. It was there that I learned that whereas soccer was “more fun” to me, I really gravitated toward running longer and longer distances. There is a certain satisfaction one achieves with the discipline of running miles and miles. Oh also because cross country (fall), soccer (winter), and track (spring) wasn’t enough I was also a cheerleader from 7th-12th grade and mixed in your typical school advisory clubs including student council and National Honor Society, blah, blah, blah because I just enjoyed having a packed schedule from an early age. So there were honestly Fridays I would have a shake out run for cross country practice after school, meet at 4-10pm for football games to cheer at, then wake up and run a cross country meet. I LOVED IT THOUGH!!
A few highly memorable high school moments circa Class of 2011!!!!!
- Getting detention for chewing gum (I never lived that down)
- Winning 2 state championship races in track back to back
- Starting for my high school Varsity Soccer team at the MHSAA State Championship Game- first team from our school to make it to State
- Tearing my ACL less than 5 minutes before the first half ended of ^Game
- Trying out for my senior year of cheerleading in a chair (yep you read that right) due to said ACL tear (that was surgically repaired and in a DonJoy brace at the time of tryouts) -PS I made the team
- Losing to a teammate for the first time ever in a running distance event my senior year 5 months post surgery (high school sports give you a dose of sportsmanship and humility really quickly)
- Returning to the Soccer State Championships and lining up against the defender of whom which I tore my ACL a year prior when colliding in attempt to head the ball (praise Jesus I didn’t hurt myself that game)
- During high school, I realized my career aspiration aligned with the medical field although I did not want to be a nurse or a doctor….
- Being voted by my peers to be Senior Maid of Honor (Runner up to Homecoming Queen) and then getting to cheer during 3rd quarter while wearing a suit
- Recruitment weekend and Signing Day to run cross country and track collegiately at University of South Alabama
Undergrad: Somehow, life comes at you fast and wham, bam you’re an “adult” at least that’s what they say. I can recall the night after unpacking and organizing my first dorm room feeling strange, but a good strange – it is quite the transition and is significantly different living in a confined sized area with a stranger in contrast to the familiar comfort of my childhood bedroom. Alas, those years of undergrad were filled of memories I will truly cherish. From having no idea what I should major in to learning how to juggle academics and running to securing my faith by widening my horizons and allowing others to be apart of my trials and triumphs, –and most importantly during the second day of freshman year in Biology Lab meeting my future husband (yeah I definitely scored a winner husband).
I have such gratitude to being apart of South’s cross country and track teams; collegiate sports at any level provide you with the opportunity to build tenacity, grit, experience and generalize to improved adaptive skills, team based understandings, self-initiated learning, and the determination to work hard and acknowledge doubt and not achieving your intended outcome is something that may occur from time to time in life.
OT Graduate School: This should be a post on its own, but I am so thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me since graduation. I will always be thankful to the University of South Alabama. Cheers to the CLASS OF 2016!!!!!
First career job: This will also be a post on its own, but boy what a whirlwind. From finishing my final 12 week rotation in November 2016 and securing my first (and current OT) job upon graduation, to graduating in December 2016, to starting my career a month later on a temporary license, to juggling work (about 40-50 hours a week) and studying for the NBCOT boards, to passing in February and becoming a registered and licensed therapist, and then getting married in July 2017 –> Shannen Marie Coley, MS, OTR/L = whirlwind wonderful time of life!! I am thankful for my 2.5 years working as an occupational therapist full-time in the acute inpatient rehab unit setting! On to the next one!!
Present: March 2019: My husband matched at the University of South Alabama for his medical residency in Internal Medicine (plans to pursue a fellowship in hematology/oncology afterward) which means we are going back “home” to the place where we met and fell in love!!! April 2019: I continued on Instagram with my favorite advocacy project I started in 2016 known as #ABCsofOT – I am so thankful for the hundreds of people around the world who creatively advocated for the profession of occupational therapy during OT month (if you don’t know what I am talking about – check out the hashtag and/or scroll down to see my IG and roll back the screen to see the month of April!).. May 2019: I said goodbye to my first OT job (above) and James officially graduated medical school – hello personal doctor haha!! We moved from our tiny 550 one bedroom apartment in Auburn, Alabama and moved into a home 4x the size in Mobile, Alabama!! I am excited to continue working with the same company in the acute rehab setting but this time I will initially be working PRN until we get our first home settled in and then plan to transition to full-time.
Future: I am always thinking ahead, but I am not sure where my path will lead. My interests for the future –career wise– include many possibilities such as pursuing a post-professional occupational therapy doctorate in low vision / remedial vision, adjunct teaching in labs in local OT graduate programs, and becoming the clinician sponsor and leader for pre-occupational therapy student clubs and classes. I envision myself always staying in the hospital setting with the exception of working in an outpatient low vision/remedial vision setting!! James and I also hope to start a family in a few years so that will most definitely change the timing of my career path… Hmmmm…..
- I believe there is good in all people, in all things, and in all experiences
- There can never be too many sunflowers in one space
- There is no such thing as too much coffee
- if you don’t like occupational therapy don’t follow along
- if you don’t believe that DOs are “real doctors” don’t follow along either
***Introduce yourself and comment something about you below!! I’d love to get to know you because you matter!***