Faculty Focus Friday | Angela Cecil, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy

Ashley Byrd

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. This week’s featured faculty member is Angela Cecil, OTR/L, Associate Professor in the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT). Professor Cecil has been on the Spalding ASOT faculty since 2010. Her clinical background is in acute care, inpatient/outpatient rehab, skilled nursing and home health, and her research focus is on health policy, advocacy and interprofessional collaboration. Professor Cecil holds a bachelor’s degree in OT from Eastern Kentucky University and an MBA from the University of Louisville, and she is on track to earn a PhD in health sciences from Nova Southeastern University this spring.

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I love to see students learn. Every time I am asked to teach a class or serve as a guest speaker, I love to see them learning and experiencing the light-bulb moments. I also see students progressing through the curriculum. That all gives me energy. Another thing, I love that Spalding has a heart and soul for doing the right thing. This is an imperfect world and imperfect institution, but at the end of the day, they really do try to do the right thing for students and the community. It’s a progressive-thinking university and not everyone agrees all the time, but everyone wants to do the right thing for the most people. This is especially true right now. I love the mission and how it has supported me and allows me to participate in the fullest personally and professionally.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

I started as a fieldwork director, and I did that for seven years. I am currently co-teaching a movement and occupations course, and I help teach out several master’s courses. My professional interest is in interprofessional education and collaboration. I hope to do more interprofessionally at Spalding over the years. From a research perspective, I would like to develop my action research skills. My current dissertation is a mixed-methods study, and this will allow us to progress societal challenges. I don’t have a specific research topic, but I have a strategy to address societal issues through research. I hope to do some international work through helping teach internationally, or taking students to different places in the world to do experiential-based learning. I want to have an impact in the world through a national and international level, and we will see where that takes me.

ENTRY-LEVEL OTD | Entry-level Overview
POST-PROFESSIONAL OTD | Post-professional Overview | Leadership track (online) | Upper-Extremity Rehab track (hybrid)
FACULTY BIOS | Learn about all our professors
SOCIAL MEDIA | Follow ASOT on Facebook

Why is occupational therapy a good option for students to consider?

In occupational therapy, as long as you align with the philosophy of OT, you can do anything. It is an incredibly flexible occupation where you want to help people and you believe in the power of doing (occupation). There is no limit to the setting you work in. Sometimes the settings that you are able to work in are dictated by the environment. For instance, this region is very medically model based, so OTs are seen in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. However, if you went to the northwestern part of the United States they do a lot more community-based and mental health work as OTs. The environment certainly dictates what the OT can do, but with the right resources and support, students can participate in exploration of OT. This could pique the interest of students who have an entrepreneurial nature in them to start their own business or community agency.

What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging?

When I was in charge of the fieldwork-matching process I loved matching students and being able to coach them through the process of fieldwork. Especially when students have a few hiccups then come out at the end with success it’s beyond enjoyable. It’s a privilege to see how they develop. The other example is when I am helping with the movement class and students are able to do the activity analysis project because that to me is taking the skills of understanding how movement happens and applying it to doing. That is one of the cornerstones of occupational therapy.

What is an interesting thing you have in your office?

When I first started at Spalding and I had my own office I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, and I bought these two paintings and people always ask me if I painted them myself. They have been with me ever since the first few months I started at Spalding, and I still love them. I will probably always keep them.

The other interesting thing in my office is a gift from a former student who gave me a cookbook that is about cooking with ramen noodles. It was because he went to a homeless shelter that had a program for individuals to reintegrate into society. I guess him and I had a conversation about different things he could do while he was there and he used this ramen noodle cookbook. Then he gave me that cookbook after his experience there. It reminds me that students appreciate the guidance that we give them.

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding?

When all of the social unrest started last year we made an effort as faculty to allow opportunities to talk about it with our classes. The students that I had at the time made time to talk about the current events, so that was a way that we infused our mission for that situation. But what I enjoy doing is extending invitations to students to participate in the community. So when we had the peaceful protest at Spalding this summer, I went and I made sure I told my students so if they wanted to go, but didn’t want to go alone, they could find someone to stand with. I enjoy bringing students along whether it is at a peaceful protest or an experience where they might find something beneficial.

I am volunteering on a project called the Synergy Project, which is sponsored by the Louisville Metro Police Department with a goal of improving police and community relations. Spalding Executive Director of Peace and Spiritual Renewal Chandra Irvin is a leader in the project, which is being rebooted now and aimed at facilitating conversation between the LMPD and different communities. It is trying to begin to make change happen, and that aligns with who I am.