Alyssa Cantal OTD ’18
Hometown: Yorba Linda, CA
Program: Post-Professional OTD, Class of 2018
What brought you to occupational therapy?
This may sound clichéd, but I have always had a passion for working with others. From helping kids get on and off the swings in my elementary school years to assisting my grandmother access her community during grocery store trips, I have always taken pleasure in doing for others. My sister, a pediatric physical therapist, introduced me to the world of rehabilitation and I fell in love with OT from there!
Where are you located for your residency and what services are provided there?
For my residency, I am working through the USC Dornsife Office for Diversity and Strategic Initiatives (ODSI) to launch a series of civic-engagement workshops for children ages K-5 at the Vermont Avenue Elementary School (VAES). The community-based therapeutic arts program, Imagining America: CREATE your Vision, uses various art mediums as a platform to guide students through health-related topics and exploring what role they play in creating community. As the representative for occupational therapy in this setting, I am responsible for collaborating with other staff of ODSI and VAES to develop a therapeutic environment within the workshop settings. Being the first candidate selected for this experience, I also have the opportunity to help shape and define the value of occupational therapy in this pilot program.
What do you hope to learn from this year?
I hope to increase my understanding of meaningful arts-based activities and determine best practices for arts-based interventions. In addition, I hope to develop my interpersonal skills, clinical reasoning, and program development skills throughout this year. But most importantly, I hope to gain confidence in myself as a health care practitioner.
If you could give any words of advice for incoming Master’s students, what would it be?
Definitely take advantage of all of the knowledge and experience that your professors and mentors have! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Also, take advantage of all the opportunities that the Master’s program offers — Eric Cohen Student Center coffee/tea, Mindfulness and Yoga workshops, destressing events, and more! The experience is definitely what you make out of it, so get involved! Lastly, remember to take care of yourself, stay balanced, and do self-care activities!
What song can you sing entirely by heart?
Bohemian Rhapsody! It’s a classic and a common “car-aoke” song on long road trips with my family!