Lesley Lattner

Degree: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

College: Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences

Lesley Lattner is a survivor who refuses to let one awful moment define the life she wants to lead or the impact she wants to make.

Becoming an Occupational Therapist (OT) was always her plan when she left her tight-knit family in Tampa to attend college. That was almost derailed after a sexual assault during her freshmen year. But through behavioral therapy and a strong support system, Lesley prevailed over her post-traumatic stress disorder to graduate with a bachelor’s in Health Sciences.

Drawn to Miami’s diversity, energy and opportunities, Lesley challenged herself to seize the fresh start she needed by enrolling in FIU’s Occupational Therapy graduate program.

Lesley made new friends, forged productive relationships with her professors, and volunteered at local shelters for homeless and abused women and children, often relating to their pain and fears to help assuage them. From not knowing a single person in town, FIU and its people became her second home and family.

Lesley says OT is about getting people back to living their daily lives, which can be difficult after a traumatic event. She feels OT would have accelerated her own healing process and, as a result, she is paving the way for OTs to work with sexual assault survivors. With the help of her research group and encouraging professors, Lesley created a business plan for a trauma-informed OT clinic for college-aged sexual assault survivors. 

Lesley believes if she had never come to FIU, she would not have found the strength to share her story and the motivation to turn her experience into action to help others. That’s her real triumph.

Lexi Lopez
Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences