Aimee Rodrigues is Bristol valedictorian, inspired by disabled daughter – Taunton Daily Gazette

DIGHTON — The energy and dedication of her 17-year-old daughter impressed Aimee Rodrigues, 35, to pursue a level as an occupational remedy assistant at Bristol Neighborhood Faculty. As a senior in highschool, Rodrigues gave delivery to her daughter Leanna, who suffered a stroke in utero and was subsequently recognized with a uncommon mind abnormality.

Docs instructed Aimee that her daughter would by no means have the ability to speak on her personal, eat on her personal or stroll on her personal. Years of therapies adopted and she or he began reaching targets, finally strolling independently at age 14. However when the pandemic hit, Aimee was thrust into serving as Leanna’s trainer and therapist, which finally impressed her to return to highschool.

Aimee graduated final week as valedictorian of Bristol Neighborhood Faculty’s Class of 2024, reaching a 4.0 GPA, incomes two affiliate levels — Occupational Remedy Assistant and Normal Research, Well being and Life Sciences. 

“I used to be straight impressed by her.  She’s the true story,” mentioned the North Dighton resident about her daughter and purpose for pursuing a profession in healthcare.

Aimee Rodrigues, left, was inspired by her daughter Leanna to pursue a career in occupational therapy

Her daughter is her inspiration

Leanna, 17, has been dwelling with challenges because the very starting. Leanna’s 20-plus medical situations have required a wide range of therapists and particular wants help surrounding nearly each side of her life.

“I’ve had therapists round me her complete life,” Aimee mentioned.

It has been all of the therapists over time – those that have helped Leanna be taught and performance in addition to she does in her life – that impressed Aimee’s profession trajectory.

Aimee mentioned, as an occupational therapist or assistant, the work consists of “serving to each kids and adults, all through their lifespan, interact in actions which can be significant and purposeful,” whether or not that’s at medical services, at school programs, or home-based.

This consists of any ability or operate that an individual must do of their every day routines, whether or not that’s for individuals with particular wants, these trying to discover some independence, or these with injury-based disabilities needing to relearn capabilities. 

Aimee Rodrigues (center) with her immediate family: husband, Mark (left); son Jack; daughter, Ava (right); and daughter Leanna (center). Photo was taken at Bristol Community College Commencement on May 18, 2024.

Turning level

At graduation, throughout her valedictorian speech, Aimee instructed the gang an enormous turning level for her got here in the course of the pandemic, when, because of Leanna’s immunocompromised state, the whole lot needed to develop into digital. 

“For six hours a day, I used to be serving to facilitate every day classes and therapies with the steerage of her faculty staff,” she mentioned.

Throughout this era, due to Aimee’s fixed efforts and steerage from the varsity staff, Leanna, at age 14, walked for the primary time, independently, with out a walker. 

Encouragement from her daughter’s remedy staff, and assist from her husband and household, motivated Aimee to enroll in BCC’s Occupational Remedy Assistant program.

“I used to be craving one thing new,” Aimee mentioned. “I knew I needed to assist individuals however was not precisely positive what to do.”

Aimee Rodrigues (left) with her 17-year old daughter, Leanna (right).

New path ahead

Presently, Aimee works part-time for the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Fee as a Household Inclusion Ambassador.  She mentioned the place is about serving to households of these with disabilities have entry to the best providers and assets as they assist them transition in direction of impartial dwelling. 

Along with her two new levels, Aimee plans to proceed her work with the Rehabilitation Fee, “advancing myself as a incapacity advocate” and “serving to all of the tiny people (kids).” 

She additionally plans to additional her training on the trail to turning into a Licensed Occupational Remedy Assistant. 

“I wish to give again, for all those that helped me and my daughter,” she mentioned.

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