RU M.O.T. holds pinning ceremony
Radford University's Department of Occupational Therapy held a pinning ceremony Friday afternoon to honor the 23 students in its Master of Occupational Therapy (M.O.T.) program who will graduate at the university's Winter Commencement.
"You are, as of today, occupational therapists," said M.O.T. Instructor Vesna Cotie Costello to applause as she opened the ceremony.
Speaking of the graduating class, Costello said "They came to us bold, outspoken and full of questions. And they demanded answers, answers and more answers. This makes for really exciting teaching and we appreciate that."
Following refreshments, those in attendance – faculty, soon-to-be graduates, family and friends – were treated to a photo slideshow and reflections by M.O.T. students Lauren Flynn and Sarah Garrison. Flynn concluded her comments by donning a backward cap, grabbing a mic and delivering a dope rap about occupational therapy.
Garrison presented the M.O.T. faculty with a framed photo that included an inscription pledging that each class member will "donate 16 hours of service to the community."
The formal pinning ceremony followed, with family and friends participating.
Having completed her studies, Garrison said she is ready and eager to begin her career.
"It's amazing to me how completely prepared I feel. I applied for the program because I came to realize that occupational therapy was my dream job," the Salem native said. "If you had asked me two and a half years ago whether or not I'd be ready for this moment, I probably would have said ‘no,' but the coursework and practical experiences I've had through the RU program have really left me feeling like I am an occupational therapist now."
Robbie Honaker of Richlands said it was a difficult decision to stop working full time, take away time from his family and embark on the challenge of the M.O.T. program. However, he said, the university and program instructors made his time an incredible experience.
"Ever since I stepped on campus as a student, the staff has been supportive, challenged me when I needed to be motivated and guided me through each semester to assist me in completing my occupational therapy degree," Honaker said. "I feel that the time I have spent at Radford University has prepared me to be a successful healthcare provider, and I am looking forward to representing the university in my profession."
All graduates of occupational therapy programs must pass the national examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), and apply for a license to practice in their state, before they can work as occupational therapists.
Once she's licensed, Flynn plans to initially serve as a traveling occupational therapist, working on 13-week contracts around the United States.
"I'm so happy I want to cry. It's very exciting," said the former preschool teacher from Vero Beach, Florida. "It's been a long road. It's been fun. It's been hard and very challenging, but it's been worth it and I'm super excited. Knowing there's a good job outlook for occupational therapy careers, I have huge sense of freedom and relief. There are OT jobs everywhere."
Flynn is grateful to the RU occupational therapy faculty for the dedication toward preparing the students for their chosen field.
"They taught us everything we need to know to be OTs, from anatomy to the different skills you need in a clinic," Flynn said. "They really helped to guide us along in the field work process these past six months, making sure we have everything we need, motivating us to study for the boards all along and getting us ready for the boards."
Department of Occupational Therapy Chair Douglas Mitchell said the current M.O.T. class was dedicated and committed to the profession and referred to them as a "new breed" of occupational therapists.
"This group of students had a real interest in the philosophy of occupational therapy and the ethos of what we are and what we stand for. They really took their education to heart," Mitchell said. "I like to call these graduates occupational pathfinders to the future. They will help individuals do the things they need and want to do. This class just seemed to grab that philosophy."
RU offers a full-time, year-round Master of Occupational Therapy program that prepares individuals with bachelor's degrees in any discipline for careers as occupational therapists.
The M.O.T. program was approved in 2008 by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). It is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association.