Erin Sanborn is in the final year of her clinical doctorate; she has served as president of the Global Assistance Committee, is the current class representative for both the Washington University Student Occupational Therapy Association and the Health Professionals Student Leadership Committee, and a member of Pi Theta Honors Society, the American Occupational Therapy Association, and the World Federation of Occupational Therapy. Prior to beginning her graduate work, Erin taught adaptive skiing and other recreational sports for persons with disabilities in Colorado. Most recently, Erin self-initiated and co-directed a student trip to Burkina Faso in March 2012. With two other occupational therapy graduate students, Erin partnered with a St. Louis-based non-profit organization to conduct healthcare surveys among 800+ women and malnutrition assessments among 400+ children. The information gained helped the NPO to tailor services and develop new clinic locations.
What was it like to be one of only 1,000 students invited to participate in CGI-U globally?
I was honored to be a part of this experience and feel I learned a great deal from the diverse group of students and speakers.
How did you hear about CGI-U?
Via email through someone at the Program in Occupational Therapy, and one of my practice model instructors (Dr. Monica Perlmutter) also encouraged me to apply.
What interested you about it?
It’s a unique opportunity to exchange ideas with other students and leaders from across the globe. I felt it would provide me with a variety of resources with which to forward my project.
Why did you choose to apply, and who helped you?
I chose to apply based on the interests expressed above. Many faculty members were instrumental in helping with my application. I am greatly thankful to each and every one of them: Susy Stark, Parul Bakshi, Jean Francois Trani, Steve Taff, Christine Berg, and Monica Perlmutter.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
Knowledge on how to best implement my project, potential partners, funding avenues, inspiration from other students, hearing from speakers and other experts. I’m sure the experience will provide me many things I cannot yet expect, as well.
After participating in CGIU, what do you hope to do to take your project to the next level?
Go to Malawi for four months to get started!
What would you tell other students who are thinking about applying for similar opportunities?
I would encourage anyone to pursue opportunities of this nature that help foster their natural interests and ambitions.
Tell us a little about your proposal.
My proposal is related to my OTD apprenticeship, which involves going to Blantyre, Malawi to help start the country’s first occupational therapy school. This CGIU proposal involves a curriculum partnership between Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis and the to-be occupational therapy school at the Malawi College of Medicine. Although there are many steps ahead, the plan is ultimately for said curriculum partnership to foster appreciation of occupational therapy in various global settings.
Your observations/impressions of CGIU?
The entire weekend was inspiring. Although I learned a great deal from the workshops, I was most moved by the panel discussions and motivation exemplified by fellow students. My expectations were exceeded!
Why did you choose the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine for your education?
I wanted to pursue my OTD at a university affiliated with a major research hospital. This the only program, in my opinion, that offers such.
What advantages does the Program offer you that other programs don’t offer?
Access to research opportunities, a variety of experts (both within occupational therapy and in other fields), opportunities to become involved in the community, a large student body for idea exchange, and the ability to pursue fieldwork and apprenticeship settings across the country and overseas.
What is the learning atmosphere like?
The learning atmosphere is excellent here. Faculty encourage student growth via a careful balance of guidance and self-directed learning. My mentor, Susy Stark, has been instrumental in my growth as a person, a student, and a professional.
What do you like best about attending Washington University School of Medicine?
Opportunities to get involved outside of the classroom (e.g., community service, excellent cross-disciplinary talks, fieldwork options in nearly every state, encouragement to pursue global interests).
As a group, how would you describe your classmates?
My classmates are wonderful! We are a diverse group with ranging prior experiences. Everyone is supportive and understanding, making classroom dynamics smooth.
How would you describe the faculty?
Ambitious, passionate about their work, love learning, eager to help, enthusiastic, disciplined.
What about the school do you most want prospective students to know?
The opportunities to extend your learning beyond the classroom are essentially limitless.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
Move to Colorado or Montana to pursue inpatient rehabilitation. Ultimately, my goal is to open an adaptive recreation facility in a small, mountain town.
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Current, future, and accepted applicants are encouraged to visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion, followed by a tour that’s led by one of our current occupational therapy students.
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