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Occupational Therapist Student Intern Blog Reflections

Luz Garrido

I am a Dominican Republic native that came to the U.S. 14 years ago. As a middle school student learning English, I volunteered at the Hudson River Museum. As a junior docent, the museum would offer different career workshops. During one of the workshops, an Occupational Therapist came to talk about the profession and her academic journey. Occupational Therapists have a meaningful impact in their clients’ lives and must be very personable – I immediately knew that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life!

The biggest challenge I’ve faced was during my last semester of my Master’s program, I failed one of my classes by 3 points. Devastated that I’d have to wait another year to retake the course, I had to find ways to fall back in love with OT. In order to face this challenge, I began working at a non-profit organization, Open Door Family Medical Center. Through this work, I realized the importance of Occupational Therapy as I was servicing low income individuals that lacked access to proper preventative and rehabilitative services. 

I became inspired and was eager to return to school. I saw a need in the community, in my community, and knew that I wanted to give back.

The prevalence of chronic illness that I witnessed at Open Door allowed me to apply more real life context to my course work and helped me pass the class I had to retake. 

At Afya, I have learned the true definition of team and community work. All of the volunteers that donate their time to sort, count and package medical supplies enjoy working together to help those in need including the volunteers with cognitive, learning and developmental disabilities. As an OT student I really appreciate the opportunity to work with these volunteers and help them in being more independent in their meaningful occupation. 

The best part about working at Afya is getting to know the volunteers and developing a therapeutic relationship in which they will learn strategies to help them in the future, since a lot of the skills learned through volunteering can be transferable to the outside world. At Afya, I am learning how to assess, treatment plan and implement interventions in a real life setting while the clients are simultaneously helping save the world. 

It does not get any better than that.