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Meet first-year student Justin Ryckman, OTD/S '17


Justin Ryckman, OTD/S '17, from Wildwood, MO

Why did you choose WUOT?
I chose WUOT for many reasons. First off, Washington University in St. Louis is very prestigious and they provide the best education in and out of the classroom. I knew I would be given the best opportunities to refine my skills before the entering the workforce let alone from one of the best OT programs in the nation. Secondly, I was interested in the doctorate program and not many programs are accredited yet. Lastly, I wanted to come back home to St. Louis and be near friends and family.

Why did you choose the degree program you did? (MSOT, OTD, etc.)
Honestly, the decision between the programs was not hard for me. I chose the doctorate because I want to acquire as many skills and knowledge I can before practicing. The thought of teaching sometime during my career sounds interesting to me and I know if I did not get the doctorate now, at some point I would need to go back to school and get it.

What brought you to OT and what do you want to do with your degree?
A friend introduced me to OT during my freshman year of college when I was unsure about my Pre-Medicine concentration. From the first time I shadowed at an outpatient pediatric facility, I fell in love with the field. I continued volunteering/shadowing at the same facility for my entire undergraduate career, and later started working for United Cerebral Palsy Heartland’s Summer Day Camp program. I loved working with youth with developmental disabilities at the camp and knew this was the job for me.

What do you like best about your classmates?
I enjoy the diversity in our undergraduate majors. From art to public health to biology, anything you can think of, someone probably has a degree in it. Since we all differ in this aspect, it helps with class discussions and allows different aspects from every field of study to be acknowledged.

What do you think of living in St. Louis?
I’m from St. Louis so of course I love it! Now that I am living in the city, I’m closer to all the events that are happening on the weekends, which is nice, especially since the majority are free.

What story does your family frequently tell about you?
When I was four years old, my mom spilled a canister of sugar onto the kitchen floor. As she proceeded to clean up the mess and sat on the floor, I walked up next to her, put my hand on her shoulder and said, “Mommy, it’s okay you can say a bad word.”

Tell us about something you are involved in (or were) and how it’s changed you?

When I was 15, I was a part of People to People Student Ambassador Programs. I traveled to Australia for three weeks and saw the Eastern seaboard of the continent. The experience I had from climbing the Sydney Harbor Bridge to having a home stay really got me outside of my comfort zone for the first time. In the end, this trip started my addiction with travel and love of learning about different cultures.

What word describes you best?

What drives you every day?

Knowing that someday I will be an OT. I enjoy helping people and working with others to let them achieve their fullest potential. I cannot wait to start practicing some day!

Tell us something about yourself that otherwise we wouldn’t know or guess.

My love of travel and culture has brought me to set foot on five out of seven continents. Asia and Antarctica are the last two on my list!

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