Student Spotlight: Gillian Vander Tuig, MSOT/S '15
Gillian Vander Tuig, MSOT/S '15, Silver Spring, MD
What advantages does WUOT offer you that other programs don’t offer?
I came to WUOT as part of the 3-2 program with Calvin College. I really liked that WUOT has an opportunity for an accelerated program and that I could focus my studies on occupational therapy and work towards a MSOT after three years of undergrad. WUOT also has wonderful opportunities for research that let students focus in areas that interest them and give valuable experiences outside the classroom setting.
Why did you choose WUOT?
I choose WUOT for a variety of reasons. It has the 3-2 program with another school I was already considering for undergrad and I knew that it was a well-respected OT program. I was very impressed with my visit to WUOT. It was clear to me that WUOT truly cares about the students and gives room for us to explore our interests while pursuing our studies. This really stood out to me compared to other schools. Also, everyone I met was so welcoming!
Why did you choose the degree program you did? (MSOT, OTD, etc.)
I went back and forth with the decision for MSOT or OTD. Ultimately I decided that there are so many areas of OT that I want the opportunity to explore through working and more clinical experience before getting a doctorate. An OTD is something I may pursue in the future!
What can you say about the quality of education you are receiving?
The quality of the education I am receiving is amazing! Being able to learn from leaders in the field in class and research labs is a unique experience and a great way to learn. I have felt very prepared going on my fieldwork experiences.
What is the learning atmosphere like? (people, resources provided, attitudes of faculty and staff, approach to teaching, quality of mentorship relationships, etc.)
The learning atmosphere is very welcoming. We are provided an education across all aspects of OT from the theory behind what we do to how to implement treatments in practice. It is clear the faculty love and are knowledgeable about what they do and want to share that with the students. At WUOT we are encouraged to grow in our learning through hands-on experience (such as role playing and bringing in clients). The learning also does not stop at the classroom but continues with our research labs and mentors and volunteer opportunities in the community.
What do you like best about attending WUOT?
It is hard to pick just one thing! I really like the supportive and welcoming faculty, staff, and students. I also like that we are exposed to many areas of OT throughout our time here.
What do you like best about your classmates?
Everyone is so supportive! I think we have really taken to heart what our professors told us on the first day: that we are colleagues and will be working together in our professions in the future. We all come from different backgrounds and I really enjoy being able to collaborate with so many different points of view!
How would you describe the faculty? What do you like best about the faculty?
The faculty is approachable, helpful, and incredibly knowledgeable. It is clear they are really passionate about their field and that excitement transfers to the students. The faculty also really want you to succeed and are there to help you if you need it.
What about the school do you most want prospective students to know?
WUOT provides you with a unique experience learning from leaders in the field of OT. The people and the learning atmosphere are wonderful and so is St. Louis! Being located on the medical school campus we have valuable opportunities to collaborate with other health professional students, just like we will once we are in the workforce.
What do you think of living in St. Louis?
I love living in St. Louis! There are always many different types of activities going on, such as festivals and concerts in addition to the many free museums and beautiful parks. My only complaint is that there are so many things I want to do before my two years here are over.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
After graduation I plan to find a job as an occupational therapist! Going into OT, I always thought I wanted to find a job in pediatrics. However, my diverse experiences through fieldwork and OT-related experiences have shown me many other areas of OT I enjoy and opened my eyes to the many possible career focuses. I wouldn’t mind moving back to the Washington, D.C. area, but I am also open to seeing where life takes me!