Studying at a liberal arts college gave me freedom to study a broad range of courses while still being able to fulfill the occupational therapy requirements. I am a biology major with a psychology minor. The liberal arts requirements gave me the opportunity to take classes that I would not have taken on my own. These classes gave me a new perspective on the world, uncovered new resources and provided me with a new way of thinking.
The pre-occupational therapy program at CSB/SJU is unique because it provides the knowledge and resources to complete the requirements while allowing students to complete any major. There is a lot of flexibility to take a variety of courses, and it allows you the opportunity to be involved in school activities.
I relied on my advisor Don Fischer as I navigated my way through the pre-occupational therapy program. In advisor meetings, I received a print out that contained the common requirements of graduate school programs. I am someone who likes a list to check things off so this helped me visually see what I had left to fulfill. He was always there to answer any questions I had — big or small. He was easy to communicate with whether in sending an email, stopping by his office, seeing him in the halls or setting up a meeting. I cannot thank him enough for everything he has done for me.
One of the greatest challenges for me was balance. I danced and was captain of the College of Saint Benedict fall and competitive dance teams. As a biology major, I had required labs throughout the semesters, which consumed much of my time along with the studying required to learn all the material. I also volunteered with Special Olympics Minnesota as a coach for young athletes and as a member of a unified basketball team.
My biggest advice is to look at schools in advance and know their requirements. Some schools have pre-requisites that are unique to their program. Also, plan your observation hours early. Different schools have different requirements for hours and settings. Stay in touch with at least one of the OTs you shadow because most schools require a letter of recommendation from an OT.
I completed a May term in London and Paris to learn about the countries' history and their cultures. This helped me understand how each worked and what was meaningful to them.
I also participated in the Global Medical Brigades medical mission trip to Honduras. I learned how your body could communicate so much to one another especially with the kids. I found that it was possible to have these meaningful connections with others through our body language and facial expressions. I learned to take in my surroundings and each situation before I made any thoughts or judgments. Each person has a different story and if there is something that you may see as odd, there seems to usually be an explanation somewhere in their past.
I will be attending Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, to pursue a degree in occupational therapy.