Future leader: Brendan Cook, OTD/S '21

Hometown: Springdale, AR
Undergraduate degree: BA in kinesiology from the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville)
Leadership: 2020 Assembly of Student Delegates Vice Chairperson, American Occupational Therapy Association

What are your meaningful occupations?
My meaningful occupations include exercising, attending church, learning at school and being with friends and family. These occupations are special to me because they involve other people. I am a social butterfly who loves to float around, hang out with others and spread as much positivity I can. When engaging and participating in these activities with others, it brings me much joy and allows me to regenerate in times of stress.

What is your definition of occupational therapy?
My definition of occupational therapy is that it is a profession where we focus on our clients daily, their meaningful activities, and the space that they do them in. From small daily activities such as brushing teeth, to more complex activities like playing games with friends, we as occupational therapists have a unique lens that we utilize to assist our clients to do whatever they desire. Ultimately, the client is the driver of the vehicle, and we as occupational therapists are along on the ride to provide assistance in the best way that we can.

Why did you choose the OTD degree?
I chose the OTD degree because I would love the opportunity to serve as an educator in academia. I believe that I am a product of great teachers and peers who have helped me along my academic journey. If given the opportunity, I would love to do the same for future occupational therapy students. We as students now, and future students to come, are the future of occupational therapy. As an educator, I would be able to invest in my students and impact our profession at the same time.

What are your career goals?
As a second-year student who is in love with occupational therapy, I have many goals that I hope to achieve. The first goal is to graduate, pass the NBCOT and obtain my occupational therapy licensure. The second goal varies day to day between three areas: being a director of an occupational therapy program, making adaptive toys for younger children and/or developing a life-skills program for individuals post-incarceration. These areas of occupational therapy hold a special place in my heart, and I will make it an obligation for myself to obtain as much information as I can here at WashU to achieve these goals.

What WashU experience so far stands out to you?
There are many great experiences that stand out to me during my time here at WashU. The first would be the experiences in the Community Independence Occupational Therapy Clinic, under the mentorship of Dr. Quinn Tyminski. Within this student experiential learning clinic, I have the opportunity to work with a great mentor, peers and within an emerging area of practice working with individuals experiencing homelessness. The last experience is simply my day-to-day experiences with my peers and faculty. Here at WashU, I am learning to be the best occupational therapist that I can be, but also the best person I can be. I couldn’t be who I am without my peers and faculty.

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