This year, I had the opportunity to be the only student on behalf of Gannon to present in the Inventors Showcase at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Conference and Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah in April. The invention that I presented was originally a piece of adaptive equipment I created for a class assignment. To be honest, this was probably the scariest academic experience I have ever had.
I would not characterize myself as someone who scares easily. I moved across the country to join Gannon’s new Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program in Florida from the west coast before it had even been accredited. I also would not consider myself as someone that is easily intimidated. I consider myself a strong and eternally independent woman. However, on Friday April 20th, I was both intimidated and scared.
My seven-minute time slot to pitch my creation felt as quick as thirty seconds. I stood with inventors that have contracts with Under Armour and apps with over two million downloads, and I was faced with judges like Caroline Van Howe, the Chief Operating Officer of the Assistive Technology Industry Association.
My time at Gannon prepared me more than I can ever put into words for this experience. I was not only prepared, but I had so much support from my family, friends and my entire campus. My professor, Dianna Lunsford OTD, M.Ed., whose class in which I identified my idea and brought it to life, was with me through this entire journey.
"Making it to that moment, sharing with my profession and standing among exceptionally successful peers, I felt like I made it."
The knowledge that I have learned surprised me and also soothed me as I presented. I have always been a competitive person, but for me I didn’t feel like I lost. Making it to that moment, sharing with my profession and standing among exceptionally successful peers, I felt like I made it. This is what it’s all about and why I’ve worked so hard to contribute, and will continue to contribute, to my profession.
This opportunity taught me more about my creativity and potential avenues for my career than any other experience thus far. I had the opportunity to meet wonderful innovative minds and professionals that are paving the way for occupational therapists everywhere.
Occupational therapy is such a beautiful profession in so many ways. It is diverse, creative, unique, satisfying, humbling and inspiring. It is such an honor to be part of this world and to try to make an impact on a field that has change my life forever.