Congratulations to our newest SPARC Award Winner, Jane Song! She is an Occupational Therapy student at Dominican University of California, and plans to graduate in May 2019.

Read her winning essay below:

In late 2012, I watched my father be nursed back to health after a serious automobile collision left him barely able to move on his own. Though the accident was difficult to deal with, the positive experience with his medical team thereafter led me to believe in the value of occupational therapy. Watching him regain the ability to engage in the functional activities that were important to him was an emotional experience. I still remember the proud look on my father’s face after he used the bathroom independently for the first time since the accident. I, too, felt extremely proud of his accomplishments. This experience led me to pursue a career in occupational therapy. The experiences I’ve had since then continue to validate my decision and reinforce my passion for this profession.

Initially, I had a desire to work in pediatrics. I first-handedly witnessed the benefits of early intervention when I worked as a volunteer with a young girl who was born with an orthopedic disorder that disallowed for fluid movements of her extremities. After several months of therapy, she was able to independently perform various functional tasks such as taking off her jacket. Her progress was remarkable to watch, but seeing her become more confident in herself was what left a lasting impression of this entire experience. This was the first time I had played a role in facilitating progress as a healthcare provider, and I felt the same, incredibly proud feeling I had felt with my father for this young girl and her accomplishments.

As my clinical knowledge and skills continued to develop throughout graduate school, the want to help individuals discover their potentials and feel more confident remained the same. This desire was especially strong during my recent level two fieldwork experience in an inpatient acute mental health setting. An experience I had with a patient not only reinforced this passion but also enabled me to gain real-life experience of the importance of engagement in functional activities. This patient spent all day in his room and refused to speak with the staff for the first three days of his stay. On the fourth day, I briefly made his acquaintance in the hallway when he momentarily stepped out of his room. I introduced myself and welcomed him to find me in the occupational therapy office if he needed anything. The next day, I invited him to group therapy. A full week nearly passed before he took his first steps into the occupational therapy room to join us for art group. With much encouragement, he picked up a paintbrush and painted his first picture. He, then, painted everyday until he was discharged. Not only did he start coming out of his room more often, but he also began to open up to the staff, making jokes and laughing. The positive changes in his behavior when he discovered this leisure activity was an eye-opening experience that demonstrated the effectiveness of occupational therapy. I, again, found myself feeling proud of this individual and the progress he had made.

Throughout the pursuit of my professional career, I am constantly reminded of the incredible potential that people have to achieve their goals. My experiences continue to solidify the notion that I am undoubtedly in a field that not only enables me to meet my professional goals but also incorporates values that I hold most dear: serving others and making a difference.