When I first came to Seattle Pacific, I planned to double major in Psychology and English. My parents were supportive of this, but encouraged me to try the BS track of Psychology because they believed it would keep more doors open. Halfway through “General Chemistry” class in my freshman year, though, I decided I hated science even more than I did in high school ― and I was determined to switch to a BA and double major with something that would come easier to me.
During this time, I was volunteering with a social-skills group for girls with autism spectrum disorders. One of the moms suggested occupational therapy to me, because she could see my passion for psychology and my interest in physical therapy ― an interest I developed after multiple knee surgeries from a high school sports injury. This, along with my parents’ support, helped me push through chemistry, and I decided to stick with it.
The next quarter, I was introduced to the Exercise Science major by my chemistry lab partner, Kailee. Up to this point, I didn’t know about the major, but after looking into it, I realized an Exercise Science major could help me pursue a career in occupational therapy. I took the introductory class, “Wellness and Physical Activity,” from Dr. Dale Cannavan, and felt right at home. I loved learning about health and wellness, and found the material exciting. I was also drawn to it because I had come to appreciate the challenge and logic behind chemistry. Exercise Science helped me find a practical application for chemistry in a way that made sense to me.
A benefit of the Exercise Science program is the ability to apply what I am learning in my classes to my future career. Through the guidance of my professors, I have been able to volunteer at Seattle Children’s Hospital and intern at Mosaic Center for Rehabilitation Services. In both settings, I have applied what I've learned in class.
For example, in “Programs for Special Populations,” we learned how to teach children with disabilities to play simple games like catch. Sure enough, a week later, while I was volunteering, the occupational therapist asked me to help lead one of the children in a game of catch. I also applied the methods and theories from “Motor Learning and Development” in my internship.
I love how hands-on the department is. In Exercise Physiology, we are blessed to have access to high-level equipment; we actually got to run tests such as “VO2 max” and hydrostatic weighing, where we dunk each other in a tank of water to measure body density. The professors in this program love finding ways to get us up and moving, which creates a fun learning environment.
Five years from now, I hope to be a practicing occupational therapist. At this point, I am unsure of what population I want to work with ― I have had incredible experiences volunteering in pediatric occupational therapy settings, but I have also shadowed a geriatric OT and think that would be great as well. I am just going to keep my mind open and see where God leads me.
My experience in the HHP program has been amazing, and it has helped me to have a greater appreciation of how incredibly complex and wonderful God’s creation of the human body is. After graduation, I believe that my ability to serve and form relationships with my clients will be my ministry.