Why study pre-occupational therapy at a liberal arts college?
A liberal arts education has allowed me to take classes across multiple disciplines, which has expanded my foundation of knowledge and set me apart from other occupational therapy graduate school applicants. A well-rounded education has shaped my global perspective and entire character. Rather than only my major and prerequisite classes, I have been challenged (to) draw connections between humanities, natural science, social science, ethics and intercultural classes. The skills I have developed and practiced through the liberal arts core curriculum have translated to other classes and influenced the type of learner I am. By engaging in critical thinking and discussion-based classes, my liberal arts education has given me a solid foundation for graduate school and beyond.
What makes the pre-occupational therapy program at CSB/SJU unique?
CSB/SJU prepares pre-occupational therapy students extremely well to be successful in their academic and professional futures. Students have the opportunity to work closely with a faculty adviser, who sets students on a clear track through their four years at CSB/SJU. As a first year, I met with my adviser to make a four-year plan in order to fit all my prerequisite classes. I was able to fit all my prerequisite courses, major courses (IHS major), minor courses (psychology minor), core curriculum courses and studied abroad for a semester. The CSB/SJU pre-occupational therapy program allows students to be extremely flexible, which makes it manageable to attain all of the graduate school prerequisite courses within four years.
There are opportunities for pre-occupational therapy students to connect with Bennie/Johnnie alumnae/i and learn about graduate school application process. The Allied Health Club, which I was involved in during my time at CSB, is a student run educational organization that organizes events to help students learn more about graduate school options and career. This can be extremely helpful for students to learn more about the profession, discover ways to best prepare them for their future, and meet other students interested in a similar area of study.
What has your experience with the CSB/SJU pre-occupational therapy program faculty been like?
One of the best things about the pre-occupational therapy program at CSB/SJU is the faculty. My adviser, Don Fischer, has been extremely helpful throughout my entire four years. He, along with other CSB/SJU faculty, has gone out of his way to do everything in his power to set me up for success. From finding volunteer/shadowing opportunities, to answering questions about the grad school application process, to creating a successful plan for coursework, to writing me a letter of recommendation for graduate school applications, Don has been an excellent resource and supported me along every step of my journey.
What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced?
One of the greatest challenges I have faced has been finding a balance between classes, work and extracurricular activities. Some semesters my schedule has been extremely busy, which can be overwhelming and makes it difficult to manage time. When it seems impossible to get through a week with exams, work commitments, etc., it always ends up working out. No matter how packed my schedule seems, I am grateful for the skills it has made me develop. Looking back at the past four years, I have made substantial improvements in time management skills.
What advice do you have for students considering the pre-occupational therapy program?
I would recommend that students spend a lot of time volunteering/shadowing in an occupational therapy setting to gain as much experience as possible! This is not only something that will set apart your application for graduate school, but it will help you decide if occupational therapy is the right path for you. Try to gain experience in as many different areas of occupational therapy as you can, this is your chance, as an undergrad student, to try something new and learn as much as you can. At any opportunity that is presented to you, give it a try. You might not think you would like working in a particular area, participating in a research opportunity, or volunteering in an unfamiliar setting, but you may be surprised!
What are your plans for after you graduate from CSB/SJU, and what are plans after graduate school?
I plan to pursue a doctor of occupational therapy at St. Catherine University (in St. Paul, Minnesota) beginning in summer 2019!