"The Chickasaw Nation is a very giving tribe. And to be a part of something so big is amazing. I'm blessed to have the opportunity to give back to the tribe that has given me so much."
As Lieutenant Commander and Physical Therapist for the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic, Kayla Dewitt pays tribute to her heritage. Her father, Rear Admiral Kevin Meeks, was critical in developing the Indian Health Service (IHS) in Oklahoma during more than three decades at the USPHS.
"My parents have been the biggest influences in my life," Dewitt said. She adds that her mother homeschooled and gave her an educational foundation and her father showed her the kind of officer to be.
Kayla grew up playing sports and suffered injuries that required rehabilitation, and she soon realized it was her future. "I was fortunate enough to have people that cared about my wellbeing growing up." Dewitt would achieve a Bachelor of Science degree in health studies from the University of Oklahoma, then a Doctorate of Physical Therapy. After graduation, she began work for the IHS at the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic as the facility's first physical therapist, and has been serving First Americans since.
Lt. Cmdr. Dewitt is a certified fall prevention specialist and a Therapeutic Pain Specialist. But it is her work in the pediatric obesity clinic that’s most rewarding. "Our team is made up of a pediatrician, a dietician, a psychologist, a medical family therapist and me, the physical therapist. We treat the patient as a whole, looking at every aspect of their life. And so, I hope to have a positive impact on the goals they've set forth. Through their hard work, I get to see perseverance and willpower. And because of that, it gives me a sense of joy knowing that I was able to play a part in shaping their future and helping them improve their quality of life."
"One of the things I'm most proud of is being descended from such a strong people and just knowing that the same strength and resilience has been passed down to me. Not just in how I was raised, but it's in my blood and it makes me who I am."