Future Leader: Nathaniel Baniqued, OTD/S ‘23

Name: Nathaniel Baniqued, OTD/S ‘23
Hometown: Waipahu, HI
Undergraduate degree: BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Puget Sound
Leadership: Washington University’s Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (WU-COTAD) Chapter President; Washington University’s Equity and Inclusion Council – Medical School Student Representative; Peer Mentor; Cares of WA Ticket-to-Work Point of Contact, Program Training Developer, and Staff Mentor.

What are your meaningful occupations?
In a continual effort to maintain occupational balance with work and school, I find myself alternating between reading sci-fi/fantasy books, learning and composing music on piano, playing video games, working out and keeping up with the latest computer tech. An introvert at heart, any activity that allows my mind to wander, create and dream helps to recharge my social and emotional battery. I also enjoy talking with my family across the Pacific or kicking back with my cat and my partner, whose constant love and support have helped me through this journey thus far.

What is your definition of OT?
Occupational therapy (OT) to me is seeing and appreciating the totality of an individual, community or organization. We are uniquely poised as a profession to provide services that not only look at the deficits, but provide solutions that are client-centered to promote engagement in meaningful occupations for our clients. It is with our holistic training that we understand our clients are more than just the sum of their individual parts, and that extrinsic factors like built and natural environments, policies, and available supports impact their ability to achieve and sustain wellness. Because we as therapists not only co-create the bridges that span the deepest of their chasms, but also walk alongside our clients and help steady their footing so that they may once again reengage in what they find meaningful.

Why did you choose the OTD degree?
These were the three tenets on which I based my decision when deciding to pursue this degree: leadership development, program management and education. Coming from immigrant parents who have been successful in starting and maintaining a family business over 25 years, I was exposed to the intricate workings of owning a business at a young age and have found an immense sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in developing and implementing systems. By pursuing my OTD degree, I am not only presented with the opportunity to engage in research that is fundamental to the advancement of our profession, but also with the ability to complete a capstone project that supports me in further developing and honing my abilities while under guided instruction.

What are your career goals?
As someone who is a pervasive planner yet still enjoys a bit of ambiguity, I have several goals that I would like to accomplish. The first is to work in a hospital setting, whether that is acute care or inpatient rehabilitation, that will allow me to engage with individuals with various conditions across the lifespan. The second is to open my own practice that seeks to serve transition-aged adults as they navigate their shift from childhood to adulthood whether that is in work, higher education or independent living. The third is to either start or serve on the board of directors for a nonprofit organization in Hawaii that assists marginalized individuals interested in pursuing higher education reach their goals. Finally, the fourth is to maintain my mindset of staying humble, saying “tell me more” instead of “I know,” and being a lifelong learner.

What WashU experience stands out to you?
The WashU experience that stands out to me is my involvement with the Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center in West County. This experience was set up by my mentor, Dr. Vicki Kaskutas, and has allowed me to not only participate in therapy sessions, but also see the inner workings of how therapists can collaborate with other professionals like orthopedic surgeons to provide the best patient care possible. To be fortunate enough to have this experience has allowed me to see what effective interprofessional collaboration looks like and acts as the keystone for how I would like to engage in my practice moving forward.

Anything else you would like us to know?
I would be remiss not to acknowledge my family back home in Hawaii, especially my parents. Without their support and endless years of work to provide the best life for their children, I would not have the opportunities I have available to me today. From my mom leaving her full-time job to start and continually grow our family business to my dad, who used to get four hours of sleep every night while balancing his regular full-time job as a medical technologist, the business and fatherhood. Their dedication to my siblings and me knows no bounds. As immigrants from the Philippines and both first in their families to attain a college degree, they have achieved what many immigrants hope to achieve when moving countries. That is, my parents have truly established the foundation that my siblings and I can continue to build upon for future generations. It is through them that I have learned what it means to be persistent yet compassionate, willful yet patient and bold yet humble. They are the ones who inspire me most.


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