Neuroscience alumna receives fellowship to attend dream graduate school

Grace Bouker ’21 credits Wooster’s mentorship and diverse community as she starts graduate school

June 10, 2021   /  
Grace Bouker '21
Grace Bouker ’21

Grace Bouker ’21, a neuroscience major at The College of Wooster, was awarded an Occupational Therapy Fellowship from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, a two-year departmental scholarship that supports graduate study in the University’s Occupational Therapy Program. “Puget Sound was one of the top schools I applied to, said Bouker. “I never had a #1 dream school (didn’t want to get my hopes up), but I’ve always wanted to go out West and this was the only program I applied to on the West coast.” The fellowship is merit-based and available to a handful of students accepted into the school’s Occupational Therapy Program.

When searching for occupational therapy programs across the country, Bouker found guidance and comfort from faculty and staff mentors at Wooster. She found Amy Jo Stavnezer, professor of neuroscience and psychology, Lisa Kastor, director of Career Planning, and Katie Boes, health professions advisor, to be “awesome role models and supporters, especially for applying to occupational therapy school,” said Bouker.  “I have been blessed by their mentorship, constantly checking in on me, and making Wooster feel like home.” Bouker’s mentored experience at Wooster culminated with her Independent Study titled “Mapping Out Learning: How Aerobic Exercise, Sex and Alzheimer’s Disease Impact Learning.” Stavnezer, Bouker’s I.S. advisor, was instrumental in helping her succeed with I.S. and at Wooster. “My college experience has been infinitely better with Dr. Stavenzer’s guidance and enthusiasm,” said Bouker, “I’ve been blessed since I first met her by her compassion, resourcefulness, kindness, and drive to serve students.”

As she starts graduate school, Bouker feels confident and well-prepared by Wooster’s broad and diverse curriculum. “I’ve learned so many different skills that will be relevant for my graduate study,” said Bouker “like strong writing, critical thinking, reading empirical research efficiently, and connecting what I learn back to a social context.” Bouker identified passion as the underlying lesson she took away from her college experience. “Probably the most important thing I’ve picked up during my time at Wooster is the value of passion—passion in whatever you do.” Outside of the classroom, Bouker reflected that Wooster’s diversity helped lead to her personal growth, as “being surrounded by people of all different backgrounds —religious, cultural, national, racial, sexual, etc.—has instilled deep wonder and appreciation for the diversity all around me, in all forms,” said Bouker. “Embracing empathy and intentionally seeking experiences outside of my comfort zone have helped me grow as a member of society and will ultimately make me a health care provider who hopefully makes all of my future patients feel seen and heard, despite how different our backgrounds may be.”