SOTA President Highlights Importance of Mental Health

SOTA President Encourages Students to Prioritize Mental Health

As Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) President, Ashley D. helps other West Coast University students get involved and stay motivated throughout their journey in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program.

Ashley said SOTA has several committees that allow students to volunteer in the community, create connections with other students, advocate for occupational therapy, and bring awareness to wellness resources.

“We try to foster a community w­ithin the OT program,” she said.

Finding Her Path & Becoming a Leader

Ashley was introduced to occupational therapy as an elementary school teacher when she observed one of her students in a therapy session.

“I loved how the session focused on helping the student do daily things that would help her get through life, and I wanted to do the same,” Ashley said.

After completing her prerequisites, Ashley decided to enroll in the MSOT program at WCU’s Center for Graduate Studies. She said having had friends who had graduated from WCU’s MSOT program and being able to quickly begin her journey helped in the decision process.

“Even though teaching wasn’t for me, it helped me grow confident in myself to pursue a different career path,” Ashley said.

As her confidence continued to grow at WCU, Ashley wanted to be more active in the SOTA organization and take on a leadership role.

At the end of the trimester, SOTA holds a showcase so that each committee can share what they have accomplished.

“When I first saw the SOTA showcase, I was encouraged to step out of my comfort zone and get more involved,” Ashley said. “Now, I hope to inspire someone to step out of their comfort zone and take on a leadership role.”

Sharing the Importance of Student Self-Care

As a student representative, Ashley actively advocates for classmates to first take care of themselves as they progress further into their program.

“It’s a struggle of my own not to overwork myself,” she said. “It’s easy to feel eager to get involved and lose track of your own mental well-being.”

Ashley sends weekly messages with motivational quotes to students and encourages them to seek help if needed.

“I’ll say I’m stressed in the email. I want to remind students that they’re not alone,” Ashley said. “This is a fast-paced program, but an entire cohort is going through the same thing with you.”

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.