OT Alumni Hopes To Instill Same Confidence As Professor That She Gained As WCU Student

As a student in West Coast University’s first doctor of occupational therapy cohort, Valerie Cromwell Perry trusted the faculty to help prepare her for success. Now a professor at WCU, she aims to instill a similar confidence in her students’ caregiving future.

“The best part about occupational therapy is when you walk into what seems like an impossible situation, and you just start opening doors to people who just are completely succumbed by whatever illness or injury that they’re currently going through,” Perry said. “Through the power of skilled occupational therapy, they’re able to overcome those challenges and restore their independence and their quality of life.”

Perry saw that power firsthand while being the primary caregiver for her father, who was terminally ill with cancer. Describing her dad’s OT as “kind, compassionate and brilliant,” Perry said she was fascinated by the techniques and adaptive strategies that “restored his independence.”

Perry said she knew she had found her calling while watching her dad’s eyes light up just from the simple act of putting on his shoes or getting up from the couch to get a glass of water.

“The OT taught him how to do it, so he didn’t have to rely on me,” she said. “It was her professionalism and her expertise that made me want to be like her.”

Born and raised in California, Perry was living in Illinois when she began looking for OT schools. After visiting several universities, Perry said she felt “at home” after her interview at WCU. Despite being part of the university’s first OTD cohort, Perry said she had “no reservations” about the program’s integrity due to her interactions with the faculty.

“I didn’t realize I was ‘on edge’ until I talked to the faculty here and felt so at ease and comfortable,” she said. “I knew we were fully accredited in our master’s program, and I knew that the same team that ran the master’s program was running the doctorate program, so I had zero concerns that we would have any issues with it.”

After graduating in 2020, Perry came back to teach at West Coast University in 2022. While some things are different since her time as a student, Perry said the core philosophy of the accelerated program remains unchanged.

“Occupational therapy spans from infancy all the way to older adulthood and everything in between,” she said. “We span all various ages and all different conditions. We can work with them. Our curriculum is as diverse as they come.”

Once enrolled, Perry recommends students come in with an open mind, be receptive to feedback, and be ready to learn from Day One.

“Students are supported from the moment they walk through those doors,” she said. “We are going to prepare you to restore hope in something that feels so distant at this time.”

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.