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Meet first-year student Daniel Spence, MSOT/S '16


Daniel Spence, MSOT/S '16, from Columbia, SC

Why did you choose WUOT?
Deciding which program to attend was difficult and there were several factors for consideration. In the end, I chose the OT program at WUSM because I was confident that by earning a degree here I would be prepared to be a practicing occupational therapist. The program has numerous resources and opportunities that will assist in furthering my knowledge of occupational therapy. The faculty here are very supportive and extremely intelligent, which results in a challenging and engaging environment that promotes active learning and advancement in the field of occupational therapy.

What brought you to OT and what do you want to do with your degree?

I have always had a desire to contribute positively to society. I felt that pursuing a profession in the health field would provide a means of accomplishing this goal. I was drawn to OT due to its holistic approach that provides a unique perspective for the health profession and offers a truly collaborative relationship between the individual and therapist. I hope to pursue a career in OT that involves the field of neurorehabilitation. However, there are numerous applications that are possible with an OT degree. While earning my degree I may discover additional fields of interest that I am passionate about and will have the opportunity to explore them further.

What do you think of living in St. Louis?
St. Louis is a historic city that provides various entertainment options, opportunities to serve, and diversity. It seems that every weekend there are festivals and venues that celebrate the arts, community, and culture. Many of these events occur in Forest Park, which is a massive public park located near the WUSM campus. The city of St. Louis also has many organizations and events to participate in that strive to serve and help the community. The diversity in St. Louis furthermore provides a unique and enriching environment to live in.

What story does your family frequently tell about you?
My parents often tell the story of when I was transitioning from fifth grade to sixth grade. My teacher in fifth grade was recommending students for honors classes for the following grade and stated there were two types of individuals concerning this matter: those that were very studious and organized and those that somehow retain information while running around and hanging upside down. I was the latter. Throughout my academic career, my parents have always supported me and I am truly grateful to them. Also, it may have helped that my studying habits have improved over the years.

Tell us about something you are involved in (or were) and how it’s changed you?
While taking steps to apply for OT school, I began working as a clinical aide at an outpatient neurorehabilitation clinic. This valuable experience taught me that occupational therapy is involved in different settings that do not pertain to just one application. Working as a clinical aide allowed me to interact with several different populations for the first time, which gave me insight on how therapy can be beneficial to individuals in various ways. This experience increased my awareness on the possibilities pertaining to the health field and further solidified my affirmations of pursuing a career in OT.

What is something you learned in the last week?
I am constantly learning new information about the field of OT since I have started the MSOT program here at WUSM. In particular, I have discovered that the settings occupational therapists are involved in can branch out of the traditional healthcare setting. The field of OT also promotes the importance of understanding the various contexts specific to the individual in order to be able to provide beneficial therapy.

What word(s) describes you best?
Easy going.

What drives you every day?
Increasing my overall knowledge and expanding my perspective of the world are the greatest motivators in my life. It is exciting and humbling to learn concepts on novel topics and gain insight on the various applications of these ideas. No matter how much I learn there is still an immense amount of experiences, perspectives, and knowledge in the world for me to strive to understand. I find this astounding and intriguing.

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