Alexis Killam MA2 ’21
What brought you to occupational therapy?
My mother has always had a unique gift for identifying people who are struggling and taking them under her wing. Sometimes in small ways, and oftentimes in incredible and generous ways. For example, she raised money in her community when she learned that a woman who worked at the local grocery store was diagnosed with cancer and did not have health insurance. When my mother’s neighbor was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago, she started walking with her every day to help her maintain social connection. In 1990, my mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and has been battling the disease with strength and grace every day since. She has experienced many lows over the past thirty years, but I have observed how maintaining participation in her favorite occupations such as exercising, traveling, playing games and serving others has given her strength, confidence and joy to persevere every day. While her MS has progressed since her initial diagnosis, she has never let the disease define her because she has so many other occupations that do. I personally believe that maintaining participation in the things she loves has helped slow the progression of her specific condition. I also like to think that I inherited a piece of my mother’s compassionate spirit; I believe she is my inspiration for seeking a career where I can make a deeply meaningful impact on peoples’ lives. I am so excited to be dedicating my life to helping those in need of occupational therapy!
What area of practice are you interested in?
I am interested in pursuing pediatrics as my area of practice! I am particularly interested in early intervention, working with children who have adverse childhood experiences, and I would eventually love to work in the NICU. I am also open to my interests changing along the course of the program. There are so many incredible areas of opportunity as an OT!
Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Loyola Marymount University in 2012, I worked at a global communications agency where I supported corporate and nonprofit accounts. Upon discovering my enthusiasm for mission-driven work, I transitioned to the nonprofit, Common Sense, where I worked on the corporate partnerships team for four and a half years helping kids and families safely navigate the media and technology landscape. Although successful in my professional life, I eventually found myself unfulfilled on a deeper level. I recognized that I wanted to make an even greater impact on people’s lives and decided to take a leap of faith and change careers. After experiencing my first semester and level I fieldwork at USC, I have felt incredibly confident that I have discovered the perfect career for me! I love how the field of occupational therapy focuses on the whole person to help them achieve their goals and increase their overall health and wellbeing. It is a deeply meaningful field, with the potential to make a tremendous impact.
What are some of the occupations you engage in?
Singing has been a huge passion of mine for as long as I can remember and has been a great outlet for me throughout my life. Singing is a mindfulness tool that I love to use to help me connect with my body and focus on the present moment.
What song can you sing entirely by heart?
Skinny Love by Bon Iver
What are some small things that make your day better?
Going on a run outside (or just experiencing nature), calling a friend to catch up, snuggling with my dog, hanging out with my husband and talking about our days—all of these activities fill my soul 😊