Graduate Spotlight - Sherry Younesi, Occupational Therapist Assistant
Tell us more about yourself, your background and what brought you to CBD College.
I got my Bachelor’s from CSUN in Family Studies, and did some internships at non-profit agencies afterward. I worked briefly as an administrative assistant for a healthcare company which oversaw and managed four clinics. This was a great way to see the backstage of healthcare and how things were run on an administrative level. At this position however, I realized patient care is my passion and decided to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy. Right before I started CBD College I was an ABA behavioral therapist. I actually did this as a “prerequisite job” to OT because I knew I would be working closely with children with developmental disabilities. I wanted to get my feet a little wet by working with this population so I knew what to expect once I entered the OT world. It was a wonderful experience, seeing kids achieve their goal was great and I knew with OT I could take that to an even greater level. What brought me here was the OTA program! I knew it was time for me to finally get my career in occupational therapy started!
What were some of the most useful classes you took? The most fun?
I think the most useful and fun classes were Clinical Conditions and Neuro-Rehab, respectively. Clinical Conditions gave us an introduction to the type of diagnoses and conditions we will see and what our career could look like in relation to clients with these ailments. We also learned some basic occupational therapy treatments and began the OT thinking process. Neuro-Rehab was most fun because we met some amazing people with conditions we studied about; so it was nice to see it in person versus a slide; the overall topic was pretty neat as well. Neuro-rehab also made us realize if we could survive sitting all day in an almost 7 hour class, we could survive anything.
Tell us about the clinical portion of your experience.
My clinical portion was a real learning experience, but a fun learning experience. I did my clinical rotations at an outpatient clinic, BrightStar PT, and a school, Vista Del Mar. At BirghtStar PT I saw both clients with hand injuries and children with different disorders. It was an awesome rotation, I learned so much about myself there. It is a little daunting to go from being in class all day then going into the real world where we have to apply all that we have learned. But once we shake off those nerves, there is nothing stopping the process. One of my favorite moments at BrightStar was with a hand client on his last day of treatment; he had suffered a small amputation on his ring finger so we needed to work on finger mobility and grip strength. During this time I was really unsure about my treatments or if I was on the right track, but the COTA on site ended up asking the client how he felt about treatment on his last day and he said I worked his hand a lot and he liked how he felt. That was such a great feeling, and a small boost as a student. The rest of my time there only became better; my OT supervisor and I became a stronger team, I met some interesting clients, did some awesome treatments and learned new things! One of the coolest parts of BrightStar PT was I got to work with two of our alumni students, Paige and Leander. They helped me SO much, from giving me pointers during treatments, giving me advice about what diagnoses I would see, jumping in to help with a client during treatment or an evaluation, or helping me prepare for our board exam, they always had my back. It was great having them there and working along-side them.
Vista Del Mar was a different experience, but great as well. This school is specialized for children with developmental and emotional disabilities. I met some AMAZING staff there. When they say it takes a special person to work with special kids, they are not joking. The staff there always helped me with the students and showed such passion and patience with them, it was a notable thing to observe and learn from. The students at Vista were a bit challenging but with an extremely patient and supportive OT supervisor, I learned how to work better with this specific population. I even had some memorable moments with them. During my clinical rotations I learned about myself, as a clinician, what works, what doesn’t, what style of learning I have, that patience is truly a virtue, communication is everything, and what population I would like to work with. While it can be a bit overwhelming at first, clinical rotations end up being the most fun part of the program.
Tell us about your current job opportunities.
Currently COTA positions are on the rise. Hospitals, school districts and outpatient clinics are just some of the places COTA’s can work. COTA’s can work with children with physical or developmental delays, adults with hand injuries, elderly population or adults who have gone through a neurological disorder. This gives us a broad range of workplaces. We can also do travel work!
How did CBD College prepare you for your current career?
One thing CBD College provided that was useful was Career Edge from Career Services. The staff looked over our resumes, helped us with interview skills and provided feedback with what we needed to work on. This really helped us fine tune our professional skills since that will get us through the door for an interview. Having the career services staff edit our resumes and give us advice on what to highlight gave us the chance to present our best selves. They really made sure we knew what to pinpoint, how to conduct ourselves in an interview and ways we can shine out in the field. This was a great service since resumes and interviews are a big part of the job seeking process.
If I choose CBD College what advice do you have for my time here?
Take all the opportunities you can, be involved, or find ways to be involved if they are not available. Take advantage of your time here, make strong bonds, make strong friendships, and get to know everyone in your and other cohorts. Ask your teachers everything, this might sound out there, but take advantage of their time too. If the professors offer you an open door policy, don’t be shy or nervous to ask for help — ask it, they want to help you succeed; they are in your corner. The people at the school are there to help you too and make sure you do well, if you can’t get what you need the way you thought, there will always be another way. Study hard but manage time and make sure you study smart. Ask other classmates how they study, make study group, learn from other classmates. And most importantly: relax and enjoy this ride, enjoy every second, the good, the bad, the ugly, it will be the most fun you will have and you will grow in ways you never thought.
Describe your most rewarding academic experience.
My most rewarding experience was really growing as a student, professional and person. The leadership positions I obtained were a great part of the experience as well, I realized I really like being really involved and being in leadership. Meeting my new friends in my cohort and being the student of some amazing OT practitioners really made this journey a blast.
How do you plan to achieve your career goals?
Being my bad self, jk! haha. Just like how I accomplished this goal, being disciplined and focused on what I want to make happen is how I will make any goal of mine happen. A little bit of faith works too and of course having a strong support system.