Ali Zwicker

 
Victoria
Canada
 
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the University of Virginia in 2017 and 2018 respectively. A few months after moving back to BC and working, I was already yearning to return to school. I spent a few months reflecting on what brings me joy and how to integrate my personal values and passions in life with a life-long career. The answer: occupational therapy. I was drawn to a profession that focuses on the strengths of a client instead of an injury, illness, or disability. I also loved the idea of coming up with collaborative and creative ways to help clients get back to activities that are meaningful in their life. Once I realized a profession existed that combined my values and passions, I never looked back.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

My interest in pursuing a graduate degree at UBC was founded on both professional and personal grounds. UBC is a top global university and home to the best occupational therapy program in the country. When I was researching programs, it quickly became evident the opportunity to learn from and work with the top tier faculty here was not something I could pass up. Additionally, I knew the campus and program cultures would create a place for students to thrive given the university’s emphasis on student well-being and mental health. This is also my home province, and after going away for school, I was eager to return to the ocean and mountains of beautiful BC and be closer to family.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

There are three main things that attracted me to the Master of Occupational Therapy program at UBC. First, I liked the idea of small class sizes. We have grown to be a tight-knit class and have the incredible opportunity not only to bounce ideas off each other, but connect with world class faculty on personal and intellectual levels almost daily. Second, the research project opportunity was enticing as I enter a profession guided by evidence-based practice. The research component is giving me a chance to see the other side as well as opening doors for possible research opportunities in the future. Lastly, the high regard for the program and the success of graduates on the national exam indicated to me that we would be well prepared and confident entering the field as new occupational therapists.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

The best part about living in Vancouver has to be student tickets to the Canucks! It’s such a great way to relax and have fun with friends, have a break from campus, and cheer on my favourite team.

The high regard for the program and the success of graduates on the national exam indicated to me that we would be well prepared and confident entering the field as new occupational therapists.
 
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

Each day that passes becomes the day I enjoy the most – truly! Our faculty fervently create and deliver course content that is not only relevant for the profession but leading-edge. I am equally grateful for the opportunity to learn from our clinical faculty, who passionately share their knowledge and experiences from the field. Further, the Master of Occupational Therapy program includes five fieldwork placements, and I love applying what I have learned in class with a multitude of client populations and clinical settings. When our fieldwork placement concludes, we are back in the classroom learning from our incredible faculty. Do you see now how every day becomes the best day?!

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I had the incredible opportunity to compete on university and national rowing teams, which have had a tremendous impact on my graduate school preparation. On these teams, the importance of time-management and team work were instilled in me. I think both of these apply to graduate school – the academic demands differ greatly from those in undergraduate degrees, and the amount of group work in my program is a direct reflection of what jobs in the health care profession entail. Ultimately, we all have our own aspects in life that can prepare you for a UBC graduate program. To me, it’s all about reflecting on what has worked well for you in the past, identifying your strengths, and harnessing them throughout your time here to help you succeed.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

Other than watching the Canucks, I love getting exercise, exploring Vancouver’s beautiful landscape, reading for pleasure, and listening to music or podcasts.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Enjoy it! It can certainly be easy to get bogged down with assignments and deadlines, but I’ve found that practicing gratitude and reflecting on all the incredible things I’ve learned have helped me to stay in the moment and really enjoy my time here.

 
 
 

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