Meet Camryn Cupp, Our Newest SPARC Winner!

Camryn is an OT student at Northern Arizona University with an expected graduation date of May 13, 2023. Read her winning essay below:
I have chosen the occupational therapist career path because of the skill set I have gained through real-life experiences. I was a junior in high school when I recognized an injustice in my school that was seemingly being dismissed by faculty and staff. Students with disabilities had little to no interaction with the typical student body on a daily basis. I took the necessary steps to make a change through speaking with administration and by sharing my vision of providing students with disabilities more natural opportunities for friendships, socialization, and popular high school experiences. Eventually, I was able to found a nationally recognized club that supported the aforementioned vision. This experience brought to light my ability to lead as well as to identify problems, suggest a course of action, implement that action, and then follow up.

As an occupational therapist, I will need to follow a very similar thought process each day. I have witnessed how occupational therapy adds quality of life through enhancing activities of daily living. I chose this career path and course of study because I know that I have valuable insights, experiences, and drive to make an impact on the lives of those I will serve. When I consider the skills that I have acquired, I feel confident that occupational therapy is the career to best exude those skills each day. Ultimately, my degree relates to my immediate goal of being a practicing occupational therapist. But my degree also will bridge the gap between where I came from and who I am. I grew up in the small rural town of Corryton, Tennessee. In this town, only 11 percent of residents hold bachelor’s degrees and less than 6 percent hold a graduate-level degree. I recognize the privilege I have to be pursuing a degree from where I come from.

As a young female, my goal is to one day encourage young girls to pursue big dreams and open up my own clinic in an underserved area. I am passionate about occupational therapy and social justice and want to dedicate my life to advocating for a more equitable society. My ideas for sparking non-traditional, emerging practice areas of occupational therapy in rural communities are endless, but I do have one main theme and vision if I had freedom from corporate limitations. There is very limited research regarding the experiences of occupational therapy practitioners working in rural areas of the United States. There is even less research on the people needing occupational therapy services in rural communities. Individuals living in rural areas have difficulty accessing services due to a shortage of practitioners and a lack of education as to what an occupational therapist could do for them.

The dream that I plan to make a reality one day is to open up a space for adolescents ages 12-18 of all abilities and then utilize occupational therapy to promote meaningful living for an age group that is often neglected in small towns. My main objective with occupational therapy for adolescents is to help them live satisfyingly full lives with as much independence as possible. This means helping to develop the life skills and techniques necessary for everyday self-care, emotional regulation, home management, and appropriate educational pursuits. This would be a group-based clinic that promotes leadership skills and helps develop and inspire the next generation to become more self-reliant and make decisions that spark change and allow for new ideas and growth. This clinic wouldn’t prioritize finances or financial gain but would place patient growth and quality of services first. We would adopt a holistic model and use OT theories such as PEOP (person, environment, occupation, places) and help cultivate a space of research, evidence, and the whole person. Additionally, I will contribute to the lack of research within rural communities for practitioners and people being served by occupational therapy.

The continuation of my personal learning will benefit my patients’ well-being because it will ensure that I utilize current, research-based interventions and techniques. Lifelong learning will result in optimal occupational therapy services and premier care provided by myself as a practitioner. The patient will benefit because when a new difficulty or challenge occurs, my passion for learning will cause me to research methods to address the need in a timely and safe manner. Expanding my knowledge will expand and increase my competency as a practitioner.

I am passionate about one day owning my own practice in a rural community much like the one in which I grew up. I want to provide resources and opportunities to the community I work and serve in. I know that as I pursue a career in occupational therapy and eventually become a practitioner, I will be contributing through research, innovations, and propelling the field of occupational therapy forward by teaching the rising generations. As a future occupational therapist I will provide leadership, consistency, reliability, and positivity. I am eager to learn and poised to make a difference in the lives of those I come across. I have lived a life that has provided me with extremely valuable experiences. Those experiences have helped me recognize and expand my skill set. I am confident that the individual I have become will be an asset to my career in health care.