First Trish Buescher Nelson Hands to Love OT scholarship awarded

Kara Poole and a Hands to Love camper.
Kara Poole and a Hands to Love camper.

Kara Poole, a student her instructors call “a joy to have in class,” is the first recipient of the Trish Buescher Nelson Hands to Love scholarship.

Ruthie and Paul Dell and Janet and Mike Carroll established the scholarship fund in honor of Trish Buescher Nelson, a 1979 graduate of the UF occupational therapy program who died suddenly in 2012. The annual scholarship is awarded to a UF master’s of occupational therapy student who wants to pursue a third internship in any specialty, in addition to the two internships the program requires. The recipient is requested to volunteer for Hands to Love Camp, the weekend camp for children with congenital limb differences, founded in 2001 by Ruthie and Paul.

Kara has served as a volunteer with the Hands to Love Camp for three years as a family pal and in volunteer recruitment and coordination.

“The ability to network with various health professionals, all with a passion for making children’s days brighter, has been a wonderful learning experience,” Kara said. “Spending time with Hands to Love campers has also reinforced the idea that determination and will make anything possible, and differences are only barriers if you allow them to be. My time spent with Hands to Love has certainly confirmed my desire to work in a pediatric setting in the future.”

Kara is currently completing a 12-week internship in the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Fla., which will be followed by internships at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando and at Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation’s Pediatric Outpatient Clinic in Orlando.

“The scholarship allows me to complete a third specialty internship, providing me with additional learning experiences from a pediatric setting, which I would not have otherwise been able to experience,” Kara said. “I look forward to learning as much as I can during my internships in order to become the best entry-level therapist I can be for my future clients.”

Ruthie, a 1979 graduate of the UF program and an occupational therapist at UF Health Shands Rehab specializing in hand and upper extremity therapy, was thrilled to learn that Kara had been selected as the first recipient of the scholarship, which was established to honor Ruthie’s best friend and former UF classmate.

“A very quiet, spirited student leader, I can see Kara in my mind’s eye seemingly at every Hands to Love event as well as other local events that supported kids,” Ruthie said. “When the time came to award the first annual Trish Buescher Nelson Hands to Love Scholarship I felt that Kara was the most deserving student that I could think of to receive the award, not even knowing that she applied.”