RatliffDr. Mallory Ratliff has always liked the idea of helping people.

That was a big reason she enrolled in the Human Services program at Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) in 2003.

I was fortunate growing up to not have many obstacles, said Dr. Ratliff. I guess I lived a sheltered life, and the Human Services program helped me find my passion for people; how to understand problems and circumstances; how to show empathy; and how to place myself or even walk in someone elses shoes.

Dr. Ratliff completed her Associate of Applied Science degree in Human Services in May 2005. She dabbled with the idea of becoming a social worker, however, when she was exploring careers she fell in love with occupational therapy.

The idea of being in the medical field was compelling, especially in an area where I could use my skills in connecting and helping people, said Dr. Ratliff. She completed her Associate in Science degree in December 2005 and transferred to Eastern Kentucky University, where she earned a baccalaureate degree in Psychology and her masters and doctorate degrees in Occupational Therapy.

It was surreal walking across the stage earlier this year with her doctorate degree, she said.

It was a culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of people that helped me along the way, she added. So many people played a part in this dream coming true.

One of those people was Tammy Ball, LCSW, professor and coordinator of the Human Services program. How Ball and Dr. Ratliff reconnected was unique.

I got a random message from [Mallory] and I remembered the name immediately, Ball recalled. She wrote me the nicest and most sincere message about how our program helped her get to where she is today.

Dr. Ratliff said Ball opened my eyes to the world of helping people and demonstrated how doing this type of work can, in turn, impact our lives.

Ball said Dr. Ratliffs path proves that through hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

Her passion for the possible has taken her in several directions, but the most important factor is the way she is giving back to her community, said Ball. I think thats what we all strive for in life.

Dr. Ratliff, who resides in Elkhorn City, currently works for the Pike County School System. She is also a Certified Lactation Specialist and offers local breastfeeding support services with East Kentucky Womens Care Collective.