College of Education and Rehabilitation

Department of Blindness and Low Vision Programs

Field Work/Internships

John Kilpatrick ’14MS, Orientation and Mobility

“Thank you” is the big message from Orientation & Mobility (O&M) student, John Kilpatrick, due to graduate in May).   It’s a thank you that extends beyond a grant he just received, and includes a lot of players who helped him reach this particular place in his life’s work.

Currently completing his full-time internship with the State of Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Ft. Collins, John recently received a Delta Gamma Foundation Student Award to attend the February, 2014 Leadership Conference of the American Foundation for the Blind. 

The award is a “big deal” for him; he’s excited that the conference will be “three days jam-packed with wonderful educational opportunities.”  John Kilpatrick calls such gatherings “energizing, with people talking about the cutting edge of the profession” and opportunities to connect with movers and shakers in the field.

He credits his internship mentor for providing “a phenomenal partnership.” John enjoys his caseload and working one-on-one with each student outdoors and in their actual settings.  He values the diversity of his clients.   He admits it was slightly daunting at first when he moved from observing into the more substantial role of teacher.  Fortunately though, John says his mentor provides excellent feedback on every O & M lesson he conducts, so he feels he is guided and growing.

Two of the most valuable lessons he says he’s learned have been (1) the need for flexibility and (2) projecting a sense of calm while feeling the intense responsibility to his patients. 

For example, flexibility is required when you plan an O & M lesson for a busy intersection you checked out yesterday and you arrive to find it closed down due to road repair.  Similarly, says John, it can be challenging to feel relaxed when you consider how “our clients trust us to keep them safe and depend on us to give them correct, safe and accurate information.”

John Kilpatrick credits Dr. Fabiana Perla, director of the Orientation and Mobility program at Salus University College of Education and Rehabilitation, for helping facilitate his Conference Award.  He notes her can-do approach to making the O & M program work so well for students and appreciates the “incredible energy and enthusiastic support“ he says he has received from Dr. Perla, as well as from the whole Department.

In addition, John Kilpatrick is profoundly grateful to his wife Kelsea and his mother-in-law Deborah, for introducing him to the concept of O&M – a field he hadn’t even known existed.  Deborah works in the field of visual impairment for the state of Arizona and set him up with a chance to shadow and observe an O&M teacher.  With his undergraduate degree in math & theology, two years of service in AmeriCorps, and employment in community nutrition & health education, John was surprised to learn that O&M  “is what I want to do.” 

“I’ve never been bored for a second in the year and a half that I’ve been in this program,” he says.  The field combines all the elements Mr. Kilpatrick loves: a diverse range of people, immediate impact on their lives, being outdoors, and a “look at the world in a totally different way.”

A huge portion of Orientation & Mobility is trust, says John Kilpatrick.  He feels his own background and affinity for connecting on some level with anyone will serve him well in this career.
“I’m lucky to have been steered in this direction along my way,” he says.  “And Salus is so respected all over the world.  I’m honored to be part of this program.”

Courtney John, MS Orientation and Mobility

I'm 23 years old.   I got my undergraduate degree at the University of Delaware in Human Services and Education.  I'll be finished with my coursework at the end of this semester, and then I'll be going to the Carroll Center in Boston for a ten week Summer internship working with teenagers and adults.

So far I've finished up one "co-teaching" internship at the Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired.  I worked with adults, and it was a great experience. I entered this field thinking I only wanted to work with children; however, my internship opened my eyes and I realized I really enjoy working with adults too.

Now I'm at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, doing my second co-teaching.  I'm working with two elementary school students and two middle school students.  The students are so much fun, and it is so refreshing to work with them.  The most rewarding moment so far was when one of the elementary school students said "I can't believe our time is up!  I can't wait until next week!"

I think the best part of the internship process is the opportunity to gain experience in a variety of settings, to learn more about the field and to learn more about yourself.

I'm excited for this Summer in Boston