09:47 AM

Working Towards Your Goals

Student of the Week: Briana Pedraza


Briana Pedraza, STC Occupational Therapy student will graduate in Spring 2022 with her Associate of Applied Science and continue her education with South Texas College.  

Driven by family, graduating STC senior Briana Pedraza continues to reach for her goals thanks to her membership with Valley Scholars. Since high school, the Occupational Therapy student has been focused on her studies and community service.  

“Being a Valley Scholar means we get to do service projects for our community and for the school,” said Pedraza. “I've had a good experience in high school and now with the program I’m in.”  

Valley Scholars is an academic program that recognizes and promotes student success by providing financial assistance, academic support services and mentoring and leadership development to academically gifted and highly motivated students from Hidalgo and Starr Counties. 

Pedraza enrolled in the dual credit program through McAllen’s Niki Rowe High School. She is now expected to graduate this spring from the Occupational Therapy Assistant program with an Associate of Applied Science.  

She said being in the academic program has helped her better cope with the signs and stresses of college life. 

“The Valley Scholars program would host workshops on test-taking, time management and stress management, all to help us transition into a real-life college setting,” she said. “And I still use these skills in my program throughout my clinical rotations and assignments.”  

The Occupational Therapy Assistant track is a two-year program that prepares individuals for careers as Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA). Individuals as a state-certified and licensed COTA can practice under the supervision of a registered Occupational Therapist (OTR). The mandate of the profession is to assist patients to develop life skills by providing services with the ultimate goal of increasing their independence in daily functioning.  

The recipients of therapy are those who have encountered problems that interfere with their ability to function in any stage of their development. The scope of services includes physical, cognitive psychological and psychosocial disorders. 

Her years with the Valley Scholars have assisted her financially to help pay for tuition expenses. 

 “When I applied to Valley Scholars, I was rewarded $500 every semester for two years to continue my education with STC,” said Pedraza. “It helped make those tuition payments and buy textbooks I needed for my program. I was also appreciative of the faculty because they really care about your success, and that's not something that you find at another school.”  

The 21-year-old wants to gain experience as a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) and earn a bachelor’s degree with STC and a doctorate degree with either Texas Baylor University, the University of El Paso Health Science Center or the University of Texas San Antonio.  

“Take advantage of these opportunities as a student,” said Pedraza. “Your goal is whatever your dream is, you have to work really hard towards it.”  

For more information about the Occupational Therapy Assistant program visit https://nah.southtexascollege.edu/ota/   

Take advantage of these opportunities as a student. Your goal is whatever your dream is, you have to work really hard towards it.

Briana Pedraza