Occupational Therapy OT, Alumni Stories

OTD Alum Aids Rural City in Earning $100,000 Access Grant

Dr. Rowlison with David Armijo, Executive Director of South Central Regional Transit District

Dr. Rowlison with David Armijo, Executive Director of South Central Regional Transit District

Madison Rowlison’s, OTD, OTR/L (OTD ’21) Doctor of Occupational Therapy capstone project focused on community access for elderly residents in Sunland Park, New Mexico. Sunland Park is a rural community on the U.S.-Mexico border near Las Cruces, where she resides. Dr. Rowlison worked with the city council and transportation board to make changes for better access. Her project and proposed changes earned the city a grant of $100,000 to make the changes she outlined.

Dr. Madison Rowlison, OTD, OTR/L (OTD ’21) USAHS

Dr. Madison Rowlison, OTD ‘21, OTR/L

“I was inspired to do research with elderly, borderland residents and provide a voice for this underserved, minority population after completing a photovoice project in Assistant Professor Jennifer Summers’ Clinical Applications of OT in Psychosocial and Community Settings class. I interviewed my mother-in-law, who is part of a minority group. The interview with her identified that there are many transportation, community engagement and healthcare access barriers in Sunland Park, where she lives,” says Dr. Rowlison.

For her research, Dr. Rowlison conducted a mixed-methods pilot study using three data collection tools, a place standard assessment (an online assessment using a likert scale to rate people’s view of their community), semi-structured interviews and a walking survey (a survey to understand the walkability of a place). This identified areas where improvements for community mobility among elderly residents could be made.

After she conducted her capstone project in April 2021 and provided the results to Sunland Park City Council, Dr. Rowlison was asked to consult on another survey to help the city identify what services elderly residents in Sunland Park needed.

“As a culmination of these research projects, the City of Sunland Park was awarded $100,000 from the New Mexico Legislature via the NM Department of Aging to enhance the local senior center and purchase new equipment and institute new programs to better support the elderly residents of Sunland Park,” says Dr. Rowlison. “Hopefully, this grant will also help improve community engagement, decrease isolation and improve the overall well-being of this under-served minority population.”


The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) offers hands-on Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) and Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degrees. Join a collaborative cohort of peers who learn under the mentorship of expert faculty-practitioners. Practice with mock patients in our state-of-the-art simulation centers and learn anatomy with our high-tech tools. Prepare for clinical practice with patients across the lifespan. The OTD program includes a capstone project and additional coursework in practice leadership and policymaking. Residential (online coursework + in-person labs on weekdays) and Flex (online coursework + in-person labs on weekends) formats are available.

The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree (MOT) programs on the San Marcos, California; St. Augustine and Miami, Florida; and Austin, Texas, campuses and the entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree (OTD) programs on the San Marcos, California; St. Augustine and Miami, Florida; Austin and Dallas, Texas, campuses are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is 301-652-AOTA, and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. Visit USAHS MOT Accreditation and OTD Accreditation for more information.

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