Lauren Ford:
Health and Wellness

When Lauren Ford decided to go to college for the first time at age 28, she set a goal beyond earning her degree. She was determined to graduate debt free.  

“Being a nontraditional student is hard; it’s really hard after you live on your own and you don’t have parents to help supplement your income,” Ford said.  

But thanks to several student support programs and scholarships Ford, now 31, is earning an associate of applied science with a certification as an occupational therapy assistant – debt free. 

“It’s a great feeling,” Ford said. “I can honestly say LCCC’s faculty has been wonderful at directing me down the right pathway to help me on my educational journey.” 

In addition to several merit-based scholarships and emergency funding from the Advocacy and Resource Center, Ford’s journey included participation in the Students Accelerating in Learning Program. SAIL is a support program that provides both financial and academic support to help students graduate within three years. It provides gap tuition scholarships, textbook vouchers, and monthly Giant Eagle gift cards to qualifying students.  

The financial boost was especially helpful as Ford moved into the full-time clinical rotation part of the occupational therapy program. She had to cut back on her hours working as a licensed hairdresser and easing the financial strain that caused, allowed Ford to keep her patients and her practice at the forefront of her mind during a crucial time in her education. For the past eight weeks, Ford has been training at a rehabilitation facility in Sandusky, helping patients regain daily function after recovering from surgeries or falls. 

“Our main focus in in-patient rehab is to facilitate functional independence and maintaining safety while delivering client-centered care,” she said. “We want to build a foundation and help increase functionality for patients to utilize upon discharge, whether they are going home, back to work, skilled facility etc. Occupational therapy really encompasses patient’s safety and independence while living their specific day to day lives.” 

Ford said watching her patients’ determination and progress has been inspiring. Unknowingly, each patient has helped Ford confirm that going to college after building a career as a stylist, was right for her. And she’s ready to give back to them the same confidence they’ve given to her. 

“I love my patients,” she said. “And I want them to think of me as someone that they can talk to about anything. You have to be mentally well to participate in things that are already a struggle for you. I want to be as empathetic and understanding as I can be and get them on the right track.” 

As Ford navigates her future as an occupational therapy assistant, she’s taking some time first to catch her breath and reflect. And to show gratitude to all those who supported her along the way, both on and off campus.  

“I have had the best support system throughout this journey, and I can’t go without acknowledging that,” she said. “My family and friends among many others have done whatever they could to support me; words could never express how grateful and blessed I am by each and every one of them.” 


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