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AU News

Alumni Profile: Brianna Shackleford

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A kinesiology degree from the Anderson University College of Health Professions gave Brianna Shackleford the tools she needed to pursue a career in occupational therapy.

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A passion for helping others move toward a better life physically is at the heart of Brianna Shackleford’s goals. 

Shackleford, a 2020 kinesiology graduate from the Anderson University College of Health Professions, initially thought of special education or veterinary medicine. After some pondering, she started narrowing down the options.

“In my senior year of high school I found occupational therapy; my heart was set on it,” Shackleford said. “As I was looking at schools I realized AU had everything I needed to get to that end goal.”

Shackleford feels blessed and enriched looking back on her years at Anderson University.

“I had close friend groups that were diverse in major. It was encouraging to know that we shared more than just an educational experience; we grew in our faith together, too,” Shackleford said.

Shackleford was accepted into the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). Since starting classes in OT school, she feels better prepared than her classmates from other institutions. Shackleford asserts that her program at Anderson University exposed her to a quality of instruction and learning experiences that gave her an advantage.

“I really felt I had a foundation of knowledge to build on,” Shackleford said, giving examples of practical hands-on experiences. Learning anatomy at Anderson University in an actual cadaver lab took her farther than she could ever go reading a textbook. She also benefited from many iPad-driven learning experiences, thanks to Anderson University’s mobile learning initiative. As an Apple Distinguished School, all full-time traditional students attending Anderson University receive an iPad which are used in specially designed courses.

“We were measuring each other on iPads doing exercise. It was a fun, interactive way to learn. We used them also for my kinesiology research project,” Shackleford said.

Shackleford is grateful to her professors who both challenged and supported her.

“It makes a world of difference when your professor is passionate about what you’re learning,” she said.

In one of the final courses she took, a kinesiology practicum, she received valuable shadowing hours essential to further study in OT.

“I needed hours to get into grad school to shadow and they were built into that class,” Shackleford said.

Shackleford hopes to complete her program in 2023, and plans to be married in May of this year to her fiancé, who plans to graduate from Anderson University this spring with a biochemistry degree and work as an EMT at Charleston County EMS while preparing to become a physician assistant.

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