The career that chooses you
Occupational therapy has always been a part of my life. Growing up, I watched my mom (a Chan Division alumna) practice occupational therapy with my grandpas. My maternal grandpa suffered from a stroke and Lewy Body dementia. As I grew older, he was deteriorating. However, my mom dedicated countless days and nights to helping my grandpa live a more fulfilling life. Through research and therapy, she was able to help him maximize his independence.
The passion my mom put into her work was astounding. She spent hours inventing and creating tools for her patients and her dad to use. With admiration in my eyes, I watched my mom cut up pool noodles, build tiny exercise equipment, and melt plastic to create a hand brace. Growing up in an environment where I was constantly exposed to OT inevitably helped spark my interest in the field.
Although I had an early interest in OT, I found myself wanting to explore other fields. I didn’t want to pursue the only career I had known. I looked into medicine, psychology, and even fashion designing! However, I didn’t feel the same passion and excitement when I researched fields outside of OT. I quickly realized that OT always was and forever will be the career for me. Even when I tried to diversify my interests, OT drew me back like a magnet as if the career was choosing me.
When I was almost 100 percent certain that I wanted to be an OT, I had to find some experience in the field. It was difficult for me to find hands-on opportunities to work alongside an OT. Therefore, I turned to a field of work that provides similar experiences: caregiving.
My first caregiving experience was in 2017 when I was a one-to-one aide for a boy with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Every week we met, I would set simple goals for him to achieve. For example, one week our goal would be “don’t put toys in your mouth”. If we were able to reach this goal, we would move on to a more challenging goal such as “don’t throw hard toys”. I loved my job and I worked with the same boy for two consecutive summers. I ended up becoming a certified caregiver so I could work more closely with him!
In 2019, I began caregiving for a young boy with Down syndrome. This experience put my creative thinking skills to the test because I ended up inventing a new game almost every day for us to play! Now I have many games that I hope to use with my future clients!
These opportunities helped reassure me that I made the right decision to pursue OT. As I begin my first year in the entry level master’s program, I look forward to exploring the endless number of specialties within the field of OT. These past three years studying OT have been some of the most fruitful years of my life and I cannot wait to continue the journey.