Julie Mahoney wants to focus her career on helping the aging population achieve maximum quality of life.

A Gerontology major from the STU class of 2011, Mahoney discovered the perfect field to put her knowledge to work in a practical way—occupational therapy.

“During my gerontology education at STU, there was an overarching theme of achieving and maintaining a strong quality of life throughout older adulthood, which is also a main goal of occupational therapy,” Mahoney said. “The more I learned about occupational therapy, the more I thought it would be a great fit.”

Mahoney, who grew up in Fredericton, came to St. Thomas for the small class sizes and opportunity to work closely with professors. Her time studying Gerontology under the guidance of Dr. Linda Caissie and Professor William Randall was what she calls “life-changing.”

“The pure passion and dedication these two individuals have for the aging population and their willingness to teach others by sharing personal stories only heightened my desire to learn more,” she said. “I have such vivid memories of the material I learned, which I still hold firmly today.”

After completing her Bachelor of Arts, Mahoney pursued a Master of Arts in Health and Aging at McMaster University. She then accepted a position at the Women’s Health Concerns Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton as a Research Coordinator.

Mahoney enjoys her research work at St. Joe’s, but said she’s always wanted to work in healthcare. In the fall she’ll begin her studies in the Occupational Therapy program at Queen’s University, where she believes her background in Gerontology and liberal arts will work to her advantage.

“Having an interdisciplinary background and the ability to acknowledge the individuality of lived experiences will be monumental,” she said. “Helping others from a holistic standpoint—acknowledging all aspects of one’s life—is critical in understanding one’s meaningful activities, or occupations, which is the foundation of occupational therapy.”

Once she completes her studies, Mahoney intends to pursue work in a hospital or community care setting where she can interact regularly with older adults living with chronic illness.