Tonya Mutter, a second-year Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) student at Jackson State Community College, was recently awarded a scholarship of distinction by the Occupational Therapy Foundation. Tonya currently represents JSCC as the TNOTA Student Representative and maintains a 3.891 GPA while working to support her five children as a single mother.
Mutter started her quest for an occupational therapy assistant degree at Jackson State Community in June 2018. She knew that she needed an education so she could get a job that pays enough to support her family and to help her save for retirement.
“I was tired of struggling,” said Mutter, who has five children ages 13, 15, 17, 19, and 23.
She and her husband were doing fine until he died in a car accident in 2008. Since then, Mutter has tried to support her family on low-paying and part-time jobs that included being a pre-kindergarten assistant, school bus driver, and working on a farm harvesting and packing produce. She found her ticket back to school with the Tennessee Reconnect program that covers tuition for adults who never completed a post-secondary degree.
Mutter decided to work in health care as an occupational therapy assistant because she wants a career that helps others. Because of her son’s cerebral palsy, she added, “It will never be just me. I want to provide the best I can for him – and for the rest of my family. My son’s medical needs, along with my own, have impressed upon me a great desire to help others recover from disabilities and inspire them to enjoy life as much as possible.”