For people like Sondra Stegenga, ’00 and ’02, education doesn’t end with a degree – it starts with one. Hers was a bachelor’s in behavioral science followed by a master’s in occupational therapy. But she’s not stopping there.
“The more I learn, the more fun my job is,” she said.
This outlook encouraged her to get involved beyond what was required of her as an occupational therapist. It is also how she became appointed to the Michigan Interagency Council for Infants and Toddlers with Developmental Disabilities.
Stegenga is the Early On and Infant Program Supervisor for the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District. She began working in the district as an occupational therapist in 2005 and became supervisor in 2011. Although she says she misses the regular face-to-face interaction that she had with children and families while working in hospitals, she is very excited to have the ability to make a state-level impact on the services that are available.
“My greatest accomplishments are each time I see a child show joy in gaining a new skill they didn’t think was possible or see a family feel empowered in helping their child achieve their goals.”
This compassion for others was nurtured during her undergraduate and graduate studies at Grand Valley State University.
“GVSU gave me a strong foundation and appreciation for evidence-based practices and critical thinking while maintaining a focus on the most important factor, having a positive impact on the lives we touch,” she said.
Beyond the Ottawa School District and the Interagency Council, Stegenga serves on the board of the Family Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on children with special needs and provides resources for therapeutic treatments that may not be covered by insurance.
Stegenga’s education continues at GVSU as she pursues her second graduate degree, a master’s in educational leadership with an emphasis on special education administration. She hopes to continue advocating the importance of early childhood intervention and supporting the efforts made for children and families. She, husband Karl, and cat Patti live in West Olive where she hikes, bikes, paddles, and skis.