Hear from two CUW Occupational Therapy alumni how mentoring current students helps both parties grow in the field.

Building community is a very important part of the Occupational Therapy program at Concordia University Wisconsin. To us, community is not only while students are with us in class, but also extends to our alumni. Alumni can engage with the OT program in several ways, including being guest speakers, attending our biannual continuing education event where students present research, or engaging in virtual book clubs. 

Another way we love to engage with our alumni is through fieldwork (FW) experience. All OT students complete 2 three-month FW experiences after completing courses. For each of these experiences, we need FW educators, and we are so happy when our students are matched with CUW OT alumni in the field. Here are perspectives from two alumni who are currently supervising CUW occupational therapy students. 

Michelle Kelly & Hannah Held 

Michelle Kelly: I graduated from CUW in 2000 and I am currently practicing in the subacute rehabilitation setting, supervising student Hannah Held. 

Why do you take Level II students? 

I enjoy being a Fieldwork Educator to Level II students as I feel it is important as a therapist to provide the same opportunities to grow and learn in the fundamentals of occupational therapy as I had when I was a student.  I have always felt that this is a way to give back to our profession, and I love that the students also teach me new techniques and information as well.  

What do you appreciate about CUW OT students? 

Concordia students are entering their fieldwork ready and eager to start practicing. They have a strong foundation of theory and clinical skills, and they share a passion for occupational therapy with their patients! 

What was your favorite or most memorable experience while you were in the OT program at CUW? 

There were so many memories from my time at Concordia from our OT program that it is hard to pick just one. My favorite experience was Dr. Dvorak’s Human Anatomy class and lab. It was the class I had I feared the most starting the program, and it ended up being my favorite!     

Rick Camacho & Julia Wol

Rick Camacho: I graduated from CUW in 2017 and I am currently the director of rehab in a SNF in Aurora, Illinois, supervising student Julia Wol. 

Why do you take Level II students? 

I take on students for two reasons. The first is to pay it forward. Every OT who is working now has had a fieldwork educator who has volunteered their time to advance the Occupational Therapy profession. They take the time to share knowledge that only comes from practical experience. As a COTA and then as a graduate of the CUW bridge program I have had 4 Level II fieldwork instructors and numerous Level 1 instructors who volunteered their time to assist my OT journey, and as part of the OT community I feel strongly that their commitment should be honored and continued.

The second reason, coincidentally, is that my first fieldwork instructor as a COTA student was also an alum of CUW, Carolyn Calamia. Sometimes you don’t realize the impact an individual has on your life until well after the interaction has taken place. Luckily for me I came to that realization at that moment. Carolyn was a great mentor, and through her guidance and encouragement, I made the decision to continue my education. Her drive and motivation to not settle and advance her career was inspirational. The impact she had on my life as a fieldwork educator is another reason why I take on students. I hope that I can inspire and make a positive impact on my students, too.   

What do you appreciate about CUW OT students? 

I think first and foremost is that CUW students come prepared. Having gone through the program, I understand firsthand the level of education CUW students get—not only through the curriculum, but also from the staff of the program who all bring years of clinical experience to the classroom. For me, it is that combination that makes me appreciate CUW OT students.  

What was your favorite or most memorable experience while you were in the OT program at CUW? 

I think my most memorable experience was simply walking at graduation. What really made it special was walking with my classmates. There is a strong bond that is developed from spending time in a shared experience and having gone through the CUW OT program I got to know some wonderful individuals. Every class is unique and, as a group, has a personality all on its own. My cohort was no different. I’m a better OT having known those wonderful classmates of mine. I wouldn’t have made it without their support.

Want in?

Wherever you are in your journey into occupational therapy, Concordia University has options for you at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. As a Christ-centered university, our program will help you advance in your calling, by learning from experienced therapists in a hands-on environment and developing a foundation in ethical leadership.