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Occupational Therapy Student Intern Blog Reflections

Annabel V Paredes, Student at NYU

During my undergrad studies at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. At the time, I was doing an internship at a nursing home where I was first introduced to occupational therapy. I saw how much occupational therapy integrates both psychology (my major at the time) and health care.

However, I was still unsure. Afterwards, I worked as a direct care professional for people with disabilities at YAI, and a teaching assistant for children with disabilities at a school.

It was not until my own mother was battling breast cancer that I realized I must become an Occupational Therapist.

Thanks to my volunteer experience at a nursing home, I was able to properly accommodate my mother when she had difficulty showering. My mother, an immigrant from Mexico never had many opportunities, so she pushed her children to become educated.  

Attending occupational therapy school without my mother’s guidance was one of the hardest things I have done. But I had the privilege of being accepted to NYU’s OT Program. While commuting from Yonkers to Manhattan, I found myself burned out. 

During one of my fieldwork experiences, I had a supervisor whose demeanor and criticism made it difficult for me to grow as a therapist.

I quickly learned that not everyone will see your potential, but you must believe in yourself, be confident, be flexible and have a positive mindset.

I have learned to accept harsh criticism and accept my flaws in order to transform into a competent Occupational Therapist.

When I heard that my last level 2 fieldwork placement was at Afya, I felt like I was placed here for a reason.  Being able to see how people feel after volunteering at AFYA made me realize how therapeutic altruism can truly be.

One of the best parts about working at Afya is meeting different OT students from different schools, getting to know my own community, Yonkers, and interacting daily with a diverse group of people.

At Afya I learned the challenges people with developmental disabilities face in order to pursue higher education. I have watched my fellow OT colleagues during the last weeks become advocators for them. I also advocate for my clients daily and educate others about my own profession occupational therapy.

At Afya, I am learning the different types of medical supplies and their uses. This is a skill I can take with me in my own career if I work at a hospital or a nursing home. Afya has taught me that occupational therapists can truly make a difference no matter the setting, supplies, or support they have.

Nearing the end of my academic OT journey, I am continually learning and know this is a lifetime process. I know I am making my mother proud.