West Coast University's master of science in occupational therapy program is on a roll. Like the previous two graduating classes, the July cohort achieved 100 percent graduation rate.
"As the students of the third cohort, the 'Green' Class, you were an important part of shaping the history, integrity and reputation of this program," Dr. Nicolaas Van Den Heever, the founding dean and director of WCU's MSOT program, said at August's hooding ceremony. "You have certainly made your mark, not only within the institution, but also out in the real world through your display of professionalism, and demonstration of knowledge and skill as evidenced by the excellent fieldwork feedback and grades and the 100 percent graduation rate."
Van Den Heever added that comments he and his staff received from fieldwork educators indicated that WCU MSOT students were better prepared than students from other universities.
"As faculty, we know that you will be very successful in the profession as advocates, leaders, lifelong learners and reflective practitioners. We salute you and thank you for trusting WCU to make you the best OTs any client or patient can hope to have," he said.
Van Den Heever was aided in hooding the cohort by MSOT professors Ann McDonald, Erin Murray and Stacey Willis. WCU President Dr. Bill Clohan and Center of Graduate Studies Director Ladd Graham were also in attendance. Dr. Christine Wietlisbach was the keynote guest speaker. Melanie Villaroel won the MSOT Academic Performance award.
Shannon Kelly received the Founding Dean's outstanding student award. Kelly was recognized for her extensive volunteer work and dedication to the Student Occupational Therapy Association and the Assembly of Student Delegates to the American Occupational Therapy Association.
"She is a highly motivated individual, a born leader and I have no doubt she will embody a steadfast commitment to the ongoing professional development that is so important in the health professions," Van Den Heever said.
After the ceremony, MSOT graduate Celine Villanueva was planning on traveling a little bit and then hitting the ground running with work — after passing her boards.
"Overall I am so happy about this program — specifically about the faculty, they're so amazing but mostly the cohort that I'm in, they're super awesome. We've really become a family and that's what really pushed us through to graduation," she said.
MSOT graduate Kevin Quach said what he took most out of the program and subsequent 960 hours of fieldwork was how well the students and professors interacted with each other.
"We act as a team, as a family, and we melded well together. What I'm most excited about after this is getting a job, passing my board exams and hopefully working with my colleagues here at school too," he said.