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SAU Junior Wants to Help Children Unconventionally and Without Limits

(Photo courtesy of Keegan Aberson Distler)

Teachers, therapists, psychologists. All careers people typically choose when thinking about the ways they can positively impact children’s lives. 

SAU junior Keegan Aberson Distler says she always wanted to help children. And for a while, Distler considered being a teacher. 

“I wanted to pursue education because I’ve always seen myself in that role, but once I found out that art therapy was a soon-to-be major, I switched.”

Growing up, Distler lived in Orange City, IA until she was five before moving to Indianola, a suburb of Des Moines. 

She said at first she liked living there because it was easy to get to Des Moines to do stuff Indianola did not have, but now she says she doesn’t really like Des Moines. 

Her parents are divorced and she primarily lives with her mom. Her grandma Tammy nicknamed her house “the zoo” as her mom has four bulldogs and three cats. She has had other animals like hamsters and guinea pigs. Distler herself has a dog she rescued in 2020. 

Beyond enjoying animals, Distler also enjoys music. She used to be in choir, band, and symphony. She played the cello and the French horn. Due to her musical past, she thought a music education major was the way to go. 

A concussion changed her plans. She says music education is so much information, but very repetitive. When she got her concussion, she lost a lot of the information she knew about music and decided to change her major. 

“I don’t remember the month of March 2021,” Distler recalls. “I just remember feeling some serious FOMO [fear of missing out] and was sick often.”

She then decided art education might be an option. She observed the classroom and decided that education in general was not her path. 

Distler says she realized that she wanted to help children more than she wanted to teach them. She wants the ability to help without limits.

“With education, your sole purpose is to educate children on a certain topic. You’re not really supposed to talk about the difficult things, which is really what I want to do.” 

Distler knew she wanted to stay on the Liberal Arts path. For a while, her major was just art and design with psychology, but then the therapy program made sense to her. 

“Art therapy includes both of my main interests: art and psychology.”

She says art therapy utilizes her musical past as well as traditional art by helping children express themselves if they cannot find the words. This would work especially well with children who have experienced trauma, but do not want to talk about it. They can instead draw about it. 

She says she is also a firm believer children should not be medicated for psychological issues. Art therapy is an alternative way to help children that might have been medicated. 

“I feel like kids should be able to try other therapy/medical routes before medicating them immediately.”

Distler says she doesn’t know if she wants to work in a hospital setting or if she wants to go into a private practice. She still has a year to decide.

Cora Schultz is a staff writer for The Buzz.