When Brittany Joachim came to West Coast University, she arrived with "little confidence in my abilities and a whole lot of self-doubt."
Seventeen months later, she and her 25 classmates are leaving with a master of science degree in occupational therapy and an angel on their shoulder.
Joachim was the student speaker this May at the MSOT program's pinning ceremony at the Center for Graduate Studies. She reminded the "Yellow" cohort of founding dean and program director Dr. Nicolaas Van Den Heever's words on the first day of class.
"I will always remember you telling us that when we go into the field we should think of having a little Dr. Van Den Heever occupational therapy angel on our shoulder," she said, revealing an angel with Van Den Heever's likeness. "As we open the next chapter of our story, we are now ready for the VDH occupational therapy angel."
Joachim is now doing fieldwork at a transitional housing center in Los Angeles. She credited the MSOT program with helping her develop compassion to go along with her clinical reasoning.
"WCU does a really fantastic job of being thoughtful about students and the student experience," she said. "The MSOT program is so fantastic. I'm just very grateful that I got into the West Coast University MSOT program and that I'm here."
Fellow MSOT grad Amy Duong said she chose to attend West Coast University because of its small teacher-to-student ratio, which she considered the best way for her to learn about occupational therapy. She also appreciated how helpful and "sweet" everyone was at school.
"I love West Coast University just because of the faculty. I think they are so inspiring and so knowledgeable about occupational therapy," Duong said. "They have such great expertise in the field and I also just love the student ambience here. There's just an open-door policy with everybody that I think it's super encouraging, super supportive and just great for an OT program."