Andrea Thiessen

What education have you taken?

I graduated from Neelin High School with honours in 2007.  From 2007-2008 I attended Steinbach Bible College, where I received a Certificate in Biblical Studies. I am currently in the final year of my Bachelor of Science degree. I have applied to the University of Manitoba’s Master of Occupational Therapy program for September 2011.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

I received the General Proficiency Award at my high school graduation. In the summer of 2009, I spent a week in Arviat, Nunavut with a group from McDiarmid Drive Alliance Church.  While there, we helped with construction and ran a camp for the children of the town. I am proud to be a member of the Cerebral Palsy (CP) Association of Manitoba. I have been fundraising and participating in the CP Stationary Bike Race since 1994. I enjoy volunteering with my family at the Westman Traditional Christmas Dinner.  Over the past seven years it has become the highlight of my Christmas season!

Tell me about yourself/ your background/ your history.

I grew up on a grain and cattle farm west of Brandon with my parents and two younger brothers. I attended Alexander school from kindergarten to grade eight. There were six other students in my grade and I got to know them quite well! I am very grateful to have grown up in a small community. My family was always very involved in the community.  My Mom taught 4-H and my Dad continues to coach the local hockey team. Many of my childhood memories involve spending time at the rink, cheering for our team. Through involvement in the community and life on a farm, my parents instilled in me the value of a good work ethic which has helped me in many situations throughout my life. From grade nine to twelve, I attended Neelin High School in Brandon. This was a huge transition for me, as I went from a school of about seventy-five to a school with approximately five hundred students! As a member of concert choir and chamber ensemble I met many great friends at Neelin and made many great memories.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

I was born with mild Cerebral Palsy, so was exposed to the field of Occupational Therapy very early in life. From a young age, I knew I wanted to work with individuals with disabilities.  Occupational Therapy is a very diverse field that involves helping people overcome adversity and live independent lives. I am interested in the field of Occupational Therapy because I want to interact with people with disabilities and help them improve their quality of life.

What is your philosophy in life?

My philosophy in life has been shaped by living with Cerebral Palsy. I believe life is full of choices and that your attitude is one of them! My philosophy is that ‘every situation is what you make of it,’ and one can choose to look at things negatively or choose to be positive about them.  Although it’s not always easy (and I am not always successful), I try to maintain a positive attitude because things could always be much worse!

Where do you see yourself in the future?

In the future, I see myself living in or around Brandon. I hope to work specifically with children and adults who have Cerebral Palsy as an Occupational Therapist.

Nominator’s Comments:

Andrea is a hard working, and dedicated student. She has earned my respect for the challenges she has dealt with in her life (she has Cerebral Palsy) and for coming through them successfully. Andrea is presently taking courses senior Psychology courses and is hoping to pursue occupational therapy as her career.