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Stepping Stones to Success


Occupational Therapy Student Intern Blog Reflections

Jessica Taveras

Throughout my first couple of years in college, I switched majors regularly. I considered becoming a teacher, social worker and even a historian. None of those choices felt ‘right.’

I was only sure of one thing; helping people realize their full potential is what felt gratifying for me. The question was, which career would fulfill that feeling? 

I took an occupation assessment my junior year after frantically meeting with a career counselor. The results revealed Occupational Therapy (OT) at the top of the list. My initial impression was that I would be helping people find jobs. The irony, I thought as I sat in the career counselor’s office with a puzzled look draping over my face. The counselor gave me a general idea on what OT is and urged me to attend an upcoming health science fair to get more information. After attending this meeting and doing my own research, I knew it was something I had to do. 

If I were handed a dollar each time someone asked me the same question, “Do you help people find jobs?” Well…I would have plenty of dollars. Simply put, OT’s work with people of all abilities by helping them engage in what is meaningful to them (occupations) despite any disability, disease, or injury. For some, that can look like running through an obstacle course with a child to improve their gross motor skills or educating an adult on ergonomic techniques at their workplace to relieve lower back pain. An OT wears many hats but centralizes to one core factor; improving a person’s quality of life.

I am currently a level II fieldwork student at Afya. My day to day life at Afya consists of gathering medical supplies to send to countries in need such as Tanzania, Haiti and Puerto Rico, meeting volunteers from all walks of life and providing OT services to volunteers. It’s the ultimate trifecta. 

My experience at Afya has allowed me to adopt new approaches and think creatively about how to help current and future clients. Afya gives those who have often been excluded from volunteer opportunities the chance to give back to their community while working together as a team. My clients have proved their commitment to helping those in need while working towards their own personal goals. 

At Afya, I implement interventions that help facilitate my clients participation in volunteering. As the founder of Afya, Danielle, says, “You need to get to the underbelly of it all.” That is what OT embodies – understanding what is impeding someone from meaningful engagement and providing the tools they need. 

My journey as an OT has only just begun. Afya has provided me with the stepping stone I needed on my path to help others in a fulfilling way. I will continue to use this knowledge everywhere life takes me as an OT, and provide my client’s with stepping stones of their own.