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Grace FrankoTCU is excited to introduce Grace Franko Barlow, OTD., as the new Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC) for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program.

Barlow's appointment marks a significant step forward for our OTD program, promising innovative contributions and a revitalized academic experience.



From Chicago Suburbs to Fort Worth

Originally from Clarendon Hills, IL, a picturesque suburb of Chicago, Barlow's journey to TCU is rooted in a rich tapestry of personal and professional experiences. Despite her Midwestern roots, she is no stranger to TCU. As a proud 2018 alumna, she holds deep connections to the Horned Frog community, underscoring her enthusiasm for rejoining the campus she once called home.

“I am a TCU Horned Frog through and through!” 

A Passion for Occupational Therapy

Barlow's path to occupational therapy was driven by her appreciation for the collaborative nature of the field. 

“Occupational therapy offers a reciprocal impact between client and therapist,” she explains. “Every client with whom I interact makes their mark on me as well.” 

This philosophy has guided her career, from her foundational education in Spanish and Hispanic studies at TCU to her advanced degree in Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis.

Barlow's professional background is as impressive as it is diverse. Prior to joining TCU, she worked with Conquer Therapy Services, focusing on pediatric occupational therapy, and with St. Louis Arc, providing disability services and programming for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her academic roles include lecturing at Washington University in St. Louis' program in Occupational Therapy, where she honed her teaching skills and deepened her expertise.

Her research interests are centered on enhancing the quality of life and promoting self-determination and independent living for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has also published advocacy efforts in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, highlighting the need for occupational therapists to be eligible for formal administrative roles in public school systems.

The Return to TCU

Barlow's return to TCU is driven by her desire to contribute to the university's esteemed academic community. 

“I am very excited to collaborate with other occupational therapy program faculty to create something new at TCU,” she says. 

Her vision aligns seamlessly with TCU's mission of fostering leadership within a global context. She aims to support the creation of a comprehensive fieldwork curriculum that prepares occupational therapy students with the practical experiences necessary for their careers. 

Additionally, she hopes to integrate international experiences and foster collaborations with programs like KinderFrogs School and Starpoint School.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Barlow is eager to immerse herself in the vibrant campus life at TCU. 

“I am so excited to enjoy game days again this upcoming fall,” she shares. 

Her enthusiasm for TCU's spirited community is palpable, and she looks forward to engaging with students, staff and fellow faculty members both inside and outside the classroom.

A Vision for the Future

Looking ahead, Barlow envisions a dynamic career at TCU, one where she continues to evolve with the occupational therapy program and pursues leadership opportunities within the field. She is particularly passionate about research that supports young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and is excited to see how her role will develop as TCU's occupational therapy program grows.

Grace Franko Barlow's return to TCU heralds a promising future for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. Her blend of professional experience, academic rigor, and genuine love for the Horned Frog community ensures that she will be a driving force in shaping the next generation of occupational therapists.

Welcome back, Dr. Barlow – TCU is thrilled to have you home!