Evangelina Moncayo, OTR

Evangelina Moncayo

What is your OT history? Where did you go to school? How many years have you practiced? What is/are your current practice area/s?

I discovered OT while working with migrant farmworkers’ children, ages 6 wks. to 6 yrs, in Ohio. I was a speech/language pathologist (still am!) working with the Texas Migrant Council out of Laredo, TX - the only mobile migrant Head Start program in the nation. All staff would close the Head Start centers in various cities in South Texas and the Texas Panhandle, pack up the buses and follow the migrant stream into the Midwest states of Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the state of Washington. We would set up our programs there, expanding our age ranges down to 6 wks., up to 6 yrs. We accessed therapy services for the children with special needs in the various communities. It was my first introduction to occupational therapy and I was hooked! I went to OT school at the UTHSC in San Antonio. I have now been practicing OT for 27 years. Time flies when you’re having fun! I love being a SPOT - an SLP and an OT. It’s an invaluable combination. I currently work in the Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program in San Antonio. I am NDT trained and like working with children with neuromotor needs. I have extensive experience working with children with feeding challenges and I especially love working with NICU graduates and their families.

How has your heritage influenced your professional OT role?
I’m a bilingual, bicultural, barrio, Mexican-American border girl; first generation! I work with families from different ethnic/ cultural/language/socio-economic backgrounds. My background taught me that even within our same ethnic and language group, each family has their own culture, their own beliefs, traditions and family makeup. This has influenced my professional OT role in that I always want to know how a family views wellness, illness, disability, medical providers, therapists. I want to know if the elders in the family, who are often caring for the children I work with, view these issues in the same way. My culture has taught me the importance of ‘plática’ to start a relationship with the families I work with - a sharing of self and interest in them sharing of themselves before anything else.

What professional or association issues, needs, or concerns energize you and why?
I am proud of TOTA for having an International Committee and its interest in what is going on in the world of OT beyond our borders. I am proud to be the chair of that committee but sad that COVID has put a halt to student and professional international exchange experiences. I am happy that the TOTA Board has grown to reflect a more diverse membership and proud that we now have a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Which OT practitioner/s do you admire and why?
I admire all of my OT colleagues at Easter Seals ECI who have tackled how to continue to provide quality services to our children and families via telehealth and then transitioned back into homes with the utmost care and precautions to keep COVID at bay. I know this is happening across the world but this team is close to my heart.

What are your current areas of interest or study?
I’m always interested in improving my feeding skills and I can’t wait for the world to open up again to international exchanges.