NORMAN — The J. D. McCarty Center staff described T.J. Turner as determined, driven and motivated.
In three short weeks, staff helped Turner, 18, transition from high school graduate to university freshman.
Turner has been a patient of the McCarty Center since he was 7, but he was admitted to the McCarty Center on July 24 for a period of intensive therapy and independent living skills training. He told the staff he wanted to attend the University of Oklahoma and major in broadcast journalism.
“T. J. has always worked on independent living skills when he’s here,” said Maria Greenfield, director of occupational therapy. “He’s always wanted to be as independent as possible.”
Turner, whose hometown is Chickasha, has wanted to go to OU since he was a freshman in high school. His interest in journalism was stoked when he did general assignment and sports reporting for The Chickasha Leader weekly newspaper during an internship.
“As soon as we knew what T. J.’s goal was, we organized to see what we needed to do to make it happen,” Greenfield said. “The team consisted of therapists from speech-language, occupational and physical therapy, social work, psych, nursing and direct care. Our biggest challenge was going to be coordinating all of the groups and agencies involved in getting T. J. in school and supporting him.”
Dr. Chelle’ Lodge-Guttery, director of OU Disability Resource Center, was T. J.’s champion and helped remove all the barriers that T. J. faced getting into school. Another helpful resource in getting Turner set up in OU’s Couch Center dorm was Jenn Doughty, director of operations, OU housing and food.
“You couldn’t have asked for a more helpful person in getting T. J. set up in a proper dorm room in such a short time frame,” said Aaron Collidge, an occupational therapy student from Texas Women’s University in Denton, Texas. Coolidge was working with Turner while doing a clinical rotation at the McCarty Center.