Why did you choose occupational therapy? What makes you excited about pursuing this field?
I have always wanted to help people, but I specifically loved being around children with special needs and knew I wanted to do something for that population. After exploring different careers, I found OT and knew immediately that OT was what I wanted to do. One of the biggest parts about OT that I love is that we look at the whole person instead of just seeing a diagnosis. We can take on so many roles and outlooks to really see the entire person and how we can best serve what their individual needs are.
Why did you choose to attend WVU, and why the School of Medicine?
I moved to Morgantown from Elkins, West Virginia, during my freshman year of high school and immediately fell in love with this town. I was given so many opportunities to explore in Morgantown while in high school that I couldn’t picture my going anywhere else for college. I did a lot of research about different OT programs and schools but found myself coming back to WVU. Everyone at the School of Medicine and hospital have been so welcoming and inspirational, and I know I made the right choice to call the School of Medicine home while pursing my degree.
Have you participated in any hands-on learning or internship opportunities that you’ve really liked?
I recently got to do a week of fieldwork with an OT at Chestnut Ridge Hospital at the beginning of the semester, that I ended up loving. Being able to listen to people’s stories and then actively help them take their next steps for their mental health was so rewarding. Mental health is also often an underserved population and there are not a lot of OTs specific to that population, so having one at WVU and being able to shadow her was an experience I am so grateful for and am hoping that I can do again for one of my 12-week placements.
How do you think your program is preparing you for your future?
The OT program and professors have taught me so many skills and are truly preparing me for when I am out in the field working with patients, but I think the biggest thing I will be taking away from the program is empathy. Many of the clients we work with are going through major life changes and are struggling with the idea of a new normal. Although everyone I will work with as a healthcare professional will need some sort of help and rehab, they also need understanding, a listening ear and person to walk with them during this season. I think that’s what I really want to strive to implement in my future practice. We can all use a little more kindness in our lives and this field is teaching me how to give it out more freely and intentionally.
What advice to do you have for prospective students interested in occupational therapy?
Study and focus on school and your grades, but also get involved! Although your GPA is important, it’s not the only or main thing that they’ll look at. OT takes a holistic view to everything they do, and the professors do the same when looking at applications! Get involved, volunteer and be a part of experiences that will make you a well-rounded candidate.
Have you received any honors or awards during your time at WVU? And what extracurricular activities are you involved in?
I am a promise and distinction scholarship recipient, on the WVU TBI grant at the Center of Excellence in Disability (CED) and was accepted on the next medical and dental brigade to Honduras. I am currently the president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) and the vice president of Runway of Dreams, a club focused on fashion inclusivity for people with disabilities.