Student Athletes Find Family, Career Options in Occupational Therapy Five-Year Program

Kelsey Walicki (left) and
Riley Sullivan (Right)

Liya Stepchuk

Kelsey Walicki (left) and Riley Sullivan (Right)

Kodi Gora, Staff Writer

AIC offers a five-year Occupational Therapy Program that many people don’t know about. The program consists of two years of undergraduate classes and three years of graduate classes.

In the two years that I was an undergraduate, I completed all my general education classes as well as finished my minor in psychology. A huge bonus of this program is that after you finish the first two years of undergraduate classes, it is strictly classes about occupational therapy.

Kelsey Walicki (left) and Jocelyn Trajkovski (right).
(Alyssa Talbot)

What is occupational therapy, you might ask? Occupational therapists are trained professionals who help people at any time throughout their lifespan return to everyday activities such as activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, health management, rest and sleep, education, work, play, leisure, and social participation. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, their mission is to “advance occupational therapy practice, education, and research through standard setting and advocacy on behalf of its members, the profession, and the public.” Their vision is also to “maximize health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living.”

Kelsey Walicki (left) and Riley Sullivan (right).
(Liya Stepchuk)

Being a part of the five-year program as a student athlete is very rigorous and can be overall very stressful. The time you put in is the success that you will get in both academics and athletics. Playing softball here and balancing classes wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the amazing professors here in this program. On days that are missed, they are completely understanding and will hold times when we can come in and get the material that we missed so we don’t fall behind.

Softball is one of the most demanding sports here at AIC. Sometimes, the team plays two games a day and requires players to be an hour and a half early to warm up; it’s a lot.  There are not many schools that let you play a sport and take on such a hard major, but this is one reason that I chose AIC. The professors here understand how much stress we are under and with their help, we try and strive to be the best student athletes possible.

Heath Sciences Building. (Liya Stepchuk)

Occupational therapy is a worldwide profession that is very much like your own family through a screen. This is one of the main reasons I chose this program as well; it is astonishing how much worldwide support occupational therapy receives. Here at AIC, there is a board called SOTA, which stands for Student Occupational Therapy Association, where people are elected to be the voice of their class and advocate for the students of this program. SOTA is very important to the professors and the students because it’s where we slowly begin to find our voice to advocate for what believe in and to make sure Occupational Therapy is getting the recognition that it deserves. All the professors here just want to see you succeed as well. They tell us all the time that in a quick two years, we will be colleagues, potentially working in the same field.

If you’re thinking about joining this program, I would recommend doing it. The occupational therapy program offers a family–from the professors in the classrooms to the front office staff. Everyone is welcoming and wants you to succeed.