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Psychology Grad Excels as an Occupational Therapist, Yoga Instructor and Blogger

Friday, August 30, 2013

Pictured is Melissa Bender, psychology alumna, occupational therapist, yoga instructor and fitness blogger. | Photo by Chris Rolinson

Alumna Melissa Bender's Fitness Blog Reaches Two Million Views

Job Titles: Occupational Therapist, Boot Camp and Yoga Instructor, Assistant Cross Country Coach and Fitness Blogger
Employers: Genesis Rehab Services at Masonic Village of Sewickley, Penn State Beaver Wellness Center, Freedom High School and self-employed by Melissa Bender Fitness 
Degrees earned:
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in English, Point Park University, 2007; Master of Occupational Therapy, Chatham University, 2012 and Certified Yoga Instructor, Community College of Beaver County, 2012
College Activities at Point Park:
Psychology representative for WPPJ-670 AM campus radio station and United Student Government
Hometown:
Mt. Lebanon, Pa.
Now living in:
Center Township, Pa.
Hobbies/interests:
Blogging, fitness/wellness, running, singing, dance and travel

Who inspired you to become an occupational therapist and fitness blogger?

My mother works in occupational therapy and LOVES her job. I started to notice that everyone I met who worked in OT truly loved his or her career. That’s pretty inspiring since not everyone is lucky enough to love his or her job. Prior to starting graduate school I began an alternative medicine/yoga certification degree at CCBC because I love yoga. This pursuit was partially inspired by the class I took at Point Park called "Regional Studies: India."

As grad school dominated my time and energy I needed to do something purely for the joy and fun of it, and therefore my blog was born. I passionately believe that everyone has the right and ability to be healthy and physically fit without paying an astronomical gym membership fee. With my background as a dancer, yoga instructor and runner, I decided to share my own home workout programs and approach to fitness with the world. I never expected people would respond so well to my blog that I would be able to build my own business from it!

What factors made you choose Point Park to study psychology and English?

I originally enrolled at Point Park as a broadcast journalism major with an interest in a dual degree in musical theatre. The fine arts program is well known and I had toured the dance program when I was in high school. On that tour I was impressed with what Point Park had to offer. I liked the intimate class sizes and access to the instructors. I felt my education was important, not just my tuition check. During my first semester I found the classes I truly loved were in psychology and English. To this day, I love Point Park’s psychology program. I learned so much about the different psychological approaches and philosophies. The teachers presented the material in a way that offered more than rote memorization. They fostered understanding and learning.

What’s one of your favorite Point Park memories?

My husband, Jesse Bender, also went to Point Park. The first time I saw him he was giving a speech in the lobby about his second time running at nationals. Although we didn’t know each other at the time, I love thinking back on that moment from where we are now.

In what ways has Point Park helped you reach your career goals?

Point Park prepared me for graduate school. The educational foundation I entered grad school with, including my research and writing skills, helped set me up for success. I also utilize my background in psychology in both my blogging and my career as an occupational therapist. I pull from information I learned in my “Learning and Motivation” course to inspire people to achieve their goals. My existential psychology courses also helped define the way I pursue my career goals. These courses empowered me to realize that every action or non-action in my life is a choice. There are no limits to the goals I can set for myself.  

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

When I graduated from Point Park one of my goals was to utilize my psychology degree to open my own life coaching business. I have since expanded on that idea, as my dream is to create a functional, occupational therapy-based approach to helping others achieve happiness and wellness in their lives. Wherever my path may take me I know that Point Park helped provide many of the skills I am using to carve my way.

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