Demetria Sweatt

Demetria Sweatt, COTA
North Central Texas College grad 1998
Practicing for past 9 years

What is/are your current practice area/s?
My COTA journey began in School OT for DISD SPED dept transferred from Denton County Juvenile Detention Center SPED dept SPARKS CAMPUS.  I currently work in Home Health with Enhabit Home Health & Hospice (formally Encompass) for 5 years.  I have previously practiced in peds as well. I also currently and proudly hold the Trinity North COTA REP position here in Denton, TX!

How has your heritage influenced your professional OT role?  
As an African American woman, born and raised in the United States, naturally I am an empathic, caregiver as most practitioners in the OT profession are. Taking care of others is what I do!  My belief is that African American women were the original pioneers of the OT profession stemming from the times of slavery in this country and even before beginning with The Moors with the art of bathing, caring for, and nurturing many!  

After college and then becoming a wife &stay-at-home-mom/home school mom for many years before practicing OT, I was afforded the opportunity to utilize my OT education and skills in my home with the raising of my children and also with creating several Alternative businesses to supplement my income by serving the African-American community here in Denton County with Punkin’s Patch Day Care, City of Denton King Kids in the Kitchen cooking courses, City of Denton Little Miss Pretty Pageant (for the City of Denton Juneteenth Committee), Devoted Fitness®️with Dee and currently Wellness 4 U, LLC. 

What professional or association issues, needs, concerns energize you and why?
More diversity within the OT profession is what really energizes me personally.  It was a black female OT who introduced me to the profession when I was a nursing student.  Carolyn Mohair, OTR (R) was the director of the COTA program at NCTC and she interrupted my nursing education with a simple introduction to her COTA program one day at school in passing in the hallway back in the mid-1990’s! I had never heard of OT but was excited to learn more about it.  My dad’s dream was for me to become an RN and he was not excited when I changed my degree plan.  Changing my degree plan was the best decision I’ve made in my lifetime!  It has not been an easy road traveled, but worth every mile!  My biggest concern at this time is exposing more minority children to the profession of OT during this Covid pandemic!  With school lock-downs, closures, social distancing, and more online learning, I am concerned that not only are our minority children not receiving adequate in-person OT services in their schools, clinics, and homes, but many may not ever hear the words ‘Occupational Therapy’ as a professional career option before graduating high school at campus Career Day events, which was a problem I also had as a young student.  Again, I was an adult before I ever learned about OT.  I want to see that problem change.

“Black OT/COTA”

Which OT practitioner/s do you admire and why?
I admire black, male OTs and COTAs because of their rarity in a female-dominated profession.

What are your current areas of interest or study?
Behavioral/Mental Health and Wellness with an emphasis on non-pharmacological pain management is my current interest with losing my dad twenty-one years ago to a pain Rx drug-induced suicide. He was also a veteran.  It has always been my dream to practice OT in Mental Health. I will soon be a published author journaling my life journey as a Domestic Violence survivor!

Any thoughts or comments you want to share with your members or colleagues?
I would like to encourage all minority OTs/COTAs to embrace their current OT skill set and create their own Alternative minority-owned businesses in your communities!  It’s important for the younger students to see what you are doing and benefit from what services you’re providing! You can do it! All communities need and deserve more Black Owned Businesses (BOBs)! The sky is the limit!