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Dena Moyer finds room to grow in program’s family vibe

Sunday, July 02, 2023 12:00 AM

Dena Moyer
Dena Moyer

Dena Moyer finds room to grow in program’s family vibe

The only child of two hearing-impaired parents, Dena Moyer learned to sign before she learned to talk. Growing up with a sensitivity to disabilities keener than most her age, she began searching for a career helping those who were physically challenged.

“I was drawn to the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program,” said Moyer. “It looked very interesting and right up my alley. I could help people and make a very good career out of it.”

Moyer’s journey to Macomb proved challenging at times. She attended the elementary school where her mother taught and she struggled with English. Although she does not have a hearing impairment, she spent much of her formative years with students and adults who did.  It wasn’t until she was 13 that she felt as confident with the spoken language as she did with the signed version.

“It’s hard explaining to people that I didn’t speak much until I was 13,” said Moyer, who graduated from Dakota High School in 2020. “But I think it’s made me learn so much now that I’m in this OTA program.”

“Some of the best teachers, ever.”

The program is set up as a cohort. After completing prerequisites and general education classes on their own, the same group of OTA students spend 7 to 8 hours a day together in classes and labs on Center Campus. It lends itself to a family vibe that Moyer finds heartening. Now in her second semester, she has already made three good friends and the trio study and carpool together.  

“I don’t think I could do it without them,” said Moyer. “I have also met some of the best teachers ever, and I already know I’ll be in touch with them after I graduate. It’s such a warm feeling to know your teachers and classmates care about you.”

Coursework does double duty 

While her classes are providing her with the knowledge and skills necessary to assist those who have lost daily living skills because of trauma or disease, Moyer appreciates that she has also being taught that the mental health of these patients is of prime concern.

“With the tools I’m learning, I can help my parents in some ways feel more comfortable when they go out to dinner or other places,” related Moyer. “My parents are truly proud of me.”

Moyer intends to follow up the associate degree she’ll earn from Macomb with a bachelor’s degree after she begins working as an OTA. She’s currently employed at a Clarkston restaurant, but still finds time to work out, golf and try new restaurants with her boyfriend. 

“It’s amazing how much I’ve grown,” said Moyer. “And my experience as a Macomb student has also been amazing.”