With the support of my parents and extended family, I decided to take a leap of faith and return to college full time. I had always had an interest in helping others to realize their full potential, and the world of occupational therapy fascinated me. I only needed to take three prerequisites and getting into the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program was surprisingly easy.
I’ll make a very long and convoluted story short. The first day of classes I realized that I was “not in Kansas anymore”. I chalked it up to nervousness about putting my teaching career on hold and going full force into college courses as thirty something year old student. But..things went from bad to worse. I studied my butt off for my first anatomy test, putting 110 percent effort in. My results…a 48. When I looked around, I realized that the majority of my classmates all had bachelors degrees in kinesiology, biomechanics, or another science-related field. My background was in social work and special education. In my Masters of Occupational Therapy courses, I felt as though I were someone who just woke up one day and decided to take “Advanced Polish” when I barely spoke a word of this language to begin with. I was sinking, and sinking fast. I had always been an “A” student and I was stricken with thoughts of “what happened?” So I lightened my courseload and requested a tutor. Despite this, I still couldn’t pass physiology. I was memorizing the notes and had no idea of the concepts. Not good. I realized that this was a dream I was going to have to put on hold, or possibly give up altogether.
Licking my wounds for the seemingly hundredth time, I resigned to become an occupational therapy assistant. The program was inexpensive, the faculty was amazingly helpful, and I fit in with my diverse group of classmates. Unfortunately, when I completed the program and passed my boards, I realized that jobs were almost nonexistent. Even part time work is difficult to find in this field, at least in Florida. Part of me wanted to return to the masters program now that I had the background that I had so desperately needed when I embarked on my quest to become an occupational therapist. Yet, the rational part of me realized that returning to the special education classroom and using my newfound occupational therapy techniques to help my students become all that they can be would be more than worthwhile and a whole lot less expensive! In addition, I could also integrate occupational therapy techniques into my upcoming practice as a wellness coach.
This long, winding road made me fully realize that in order to fully be able to help a struggling individual to succeed, one must have a firsthand understanding of how it feels to struggle. My experience as a first semester Master of Science in Occupational Therapy student provided me with more than just a failing grade in physiology. It provided me with tremendous insight into the fact that the struggle truly CAN be real!