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MA Occupational Therapy, Chinese-American

March 28, 2016


There will be other applicants with higher scores and better grades than mine mostly because I have only been in active recovery for the past year from my own psychological disorder, Bulimia. I humbly ask, however, for you to accept me into your program because I have now completed all of the prerequisite coursework and I also have creative goals for professional service to some of the most vulnerable members of our community in San Francisco. I aspire to be a pediatric occupation therapist working with children who suffer from neurological impairments such as cerebral palsy, help them to reach independence in as many areas of their life as possible. I also intend to continue working with the homeless, helping them to adapt to new living situations and helping those who have trouble coping.

After graduation I plan to focus my efforts on the children of my community, the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. I aspire to be a pediatric occupation therapist working with children who suffer from neurological impairments such as cerebral palsy, helping them to achieve greater levels of independence in all areas of their life. I also intend to put my new training to immediate use as a volunteer helping the homeless to make constructive adaptations that enrich their lives through community participation.

A young, bilingual Chinese-American woman, still only 27, you have already helped me to heal and to discover my destiny. Since one of the prerequisites of your program is an art class and my world lit up like a pin ball machine when I enrolled in Chinese paint brushing. This class provided me with the direction that I needed to control my own ailment, bulimia, and to find a great sense of purpose and joy in my activity, staying busy and enhancing my dignity through creation

This Spring of 2014, I volunteered as an ESL coach at Project XXXX where I helped coach/teach students in a literacy class learn to speak and write English with the goal of eventually passing the citizenship exam.  I've also recently started volunteering at City XXXX, a non-profit ministry that serves the tenderloin district in San Francisco. This position, in particular, is helping me to really feel like an integral part of my community. We have a food bank, kitchen, and I find that our mission to feed, uplift, and care for those in need works quite nicely along with spreading the news of the healing power of Jesus.

After graduating from XXXX University with a BS in physiology in August of 2010, I continued to acquire clinical experience as a physical therapy aide, exploring my alternatives, and soon focusing on OT as the field to which I feel the strongest calling. I always knew there was an overlap between PT and OT, but what intrigued me most about OT was the fact that not only does it focus on the patient's physical challenges, but also addresses cognitive impairments in an integral fashion. I am currently volunteering at a skilled nursing facility as well as Laguna Honda Hospital (inpatient setting) in the rehabilitation department, working closely with both PTs and OTs who collaborate in the treatment of patients. In the Spring of 2014, I completed all the necessary prerequisite courses required to enter your distinguished Master’s Program in OT.

I am also a regular babysitter for a couple of families who have children with a form of cerebral palsy. Duties include but not limited to feeding, diaper changing, bathroom assisting etc. While babysitting is not generally thought of as a highly professional activity, in my case this experience is especially relevant since it is with this population, children with cerebral palsy that I feel most attracted to working with professionally. I have read that a mere 26% of people look forward to going to their daily jobs, so I am very fortunate to have discovered a profession that can put me into this elite group of contented people. My work experience has helped me to understand what I most value in life and how a career in occupational therapy meets my goals.

I majored in Physiology as an undergraduate and, during my second year of college, I experimented with a job as a dental assistant. After I mastered the "spit-sucker" tool, I gradually began to realize that probing inside a person's mouth while they are wincing in pain due to a decaying tooth was not what my heart sought. I became aware of the fact that I sought more profound relationships with patients on emotional levels- through the development of mutual trust and human investment that occurs between patient and caregiver in the OT setting. My mother who is a well established nurse practitioner has helped me to better appreciate the way that the nurse-patient relationship plays a vital role in recovery. I witnessed this firsthand when I shadowed my mother. During my junior year in college, she suggested that I look into physical therapy, seeing how it would complement my fitness-oriented lifestyle. I was excited to discover a health field in which a therapist (doctor) could help patients regain mobility and relieve their pain through the use of exercise. I’ve always had a special passion for working with children, so I began volunteering for a pediatric physical therapist who worked at a multi-disciplinary pediatric therapy clinic. This particular clinic offers a comprehensive range of services including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychotherapy. I was there initially to gain exposure to physical therapy; however, as I observed one of the occupational therapists playing with her young patients on a play structure, I became especially intrigued. Later that night, I did some research online to give me a better idea of the full range of activities involved in OT.

What impressed me most about OT is what I see as the enormous value that this profession has for society. I appreciate how the field is extremely client-centered where the patient/client initiative plays a vital role in the success of the treatment process. The main reason why I want to become an occupational therapist is because I would like to promote health and help individuals achieve more productive and satisfying lives. Part of my intense motivation, as suggested above, lies in the fact that for more than a third of my life I was living a very unhealthy and destructive lifestyle myself and I wanted nothing more than to take back my life.

Since the moment my mom handed me a dollar bill to give to a homeless woman when I was 6 years old, I’ve always had a soft spot for homeless people. Soon, however, I came to realize that I would not be able to help others whole-heartedly if I were still struggling with my own health issues. This Spring I enrolled in a psychology course that focused on eating, food, and weight. Led by a psychotherapist who specialized in eating disorders, I was able to come to understand the destructive nature of my relationship with food. This class provided me with the tools that I needed to control my ailment through meditation and mindful eating which I now practice on a regular basis. A documentary that was shown in class was called “A Place at the Table.” The film did an excellent job addressing the prevalence of the starving and underfed population in the United States, a country better known for its expanding waistline. This powerful film inspired me to reach out to City Impact, a non-profit ministry aimed to serve and connect with those who reside in the Tenderloin community on a profound level: other than just serving them a hot meal. My current responsibilities as a non-medical volunteer include welcoming new patients and make them feel loved, help them fill out in-take questionnaire forms, instructing patients in pro-active health habits and health education, as well as visiting patients in their homes sharing with them the Word and praying with them.

Working as an ESL coach has also exposed me to diverse cultures and helped me learn to be culturally sensitive.  I developed a better understanding of those who immigrant to this country in hopes of finding better jobs and opportunities than they would’ve had in their country of origin.  I took the opportunity to be an ESL coach because I wanted to serve my community by utilizing my Cantonese speaking skills and assisting those who wish to communicate better in English. As a rehabilitation aide at Physiotherapy Associates, I was able to successfully translate between the Cantonese-speaking patients and the physical therapist during treatment sessions and exercise instruction. The relief and gratitude for my presence was clearly expressed by the patients who had minimal to zero English speaking ability. The patients would lament how on their previous doctor visits there had been a clear language barrier—inevitably inhibiting patient recovery. Helping them communicate their pain and concerns to the physical therapist helped the patient feel more at ease and to receive the optimal treatment during each visit. 

As a future occupational therapist, I hope to better serve my community by helping some of its most vulnerable members to achieve a higher quality of life in body, mind, and spirit, empowering them to have more confidence in their skills and abilities. I thank you for considering my application to your distinguished program at XXXX University.

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