The Women Who: Nitchelle on Becoming an Occupational Therapist
In honor of National Women’s Day, I’m kicking off the beginning of a new blog series I’m really excited about.
Because of so many women around me, both close to home and online, I’m inspired to live my best life in all ways. From academics, to travel bloggers, to women who kick butt in the gym, The Women Who is a project that highlights the diverse accomplishments of the women around me. The women who is about who who educate, women who travel, women who create. The Women Who is open-ended.
For part one, I sat down with my cousin Nitchelle who found her passion for Occupational Therapy, got her Masters through an intense dual degree program and is now proudly walking in her purpose. Check out our interview below.
When you first started undergrad, what did you picture yourself doing?
I pictured myself being a pharmacist. I took all the prerequisites. I was pre-pharm until I realized I had to take Calculus. And I was like should I risk my GPA? You know GPA is everything. I was like wow, do I really want to be a pharmacist? I feel like it was just something my family pushed on me. I said it once when I was younger and the from there everyone was like “PHARMACY PHARMACY!!” Then one day, one of my friends in undergrad said “I can see you as an Occupational Therapist.” I went home, googled it, and realized I shadowed an OT at a special Ed school in Edison while I was in high school. I didn’t think of it as a career path back then but then I looked at the growth, the demand, the salary (of course), and the likelihood of getting job out of college. I was fortunate LIU had a bridge program, the same prerequisites but this time no calculus.
What was the most challenging part of being in your program?
The most difficult thing was having so many classes and having to maintain the 3.2 GPA, a B- was the lowest you could get for Science classes so an 80 or higher. It was just intense. I couldn't make my own schedule. They ruled me. You’re stuck with the same people. Which can be good or bad.
In your case was it good or bad?
Good. I was lucky. I stayed with my squad. On top of that you're learning then thrown into field work and have people’s lives in your hands. You're by yourself, one on one. During level one, you’re with the supervisor 24/7 then come level two they’re in the room and you’re working for free.
How has the transition been since you graduated in May until now?
My transition actually went well. The best thing I did was going to Puerto Rico before really studying (for Board exam). Six weeks, six hours, 6 days a week. The reason I was so committed was because it was so expensive. I paid $680 for three states NJ, NYC, GA. My exam date came. I was nervous of course. I thought I failed. I thought I passed. (She explains the up and down reaction she felt after the exam) The hard part was picking a job. People were telling me a bunch of different things- don’t settle for $x salary, don’t take the first offer, don’t do salary, do hourly instead etc. That was so hard. I only applied to 3 jobs. All three called me back. It was hard knowing what’s going to be right for me. I wanted to be reimbursed (licensing fees) I wanted to be off on snow days if it was necessary- if I worked in a hospital I wouldn’t.
I decided to work in a school. For the past six months I was in a school so I’m familiar with IEPS, parent teacher conferences. I knew I wanted Special Ed school and not General Ed. I do plan on getting another job in the spring in a hospital, per diem.
What’s been your biggest motivator to keep going when things got rough?
Honestly, I think my family. They came to America not knowing English and got their degrees. So I saw if they can do it, I can kill it. I was born here, I’m accustomed to the norm, English is my first language. I was given the tools so why not?
What are you most excited for in this next chapter?
To grow professionally. To be a black woman, educated, Master’s degree, steady income.
Okay answer these with the first thought that comes to you.
Dream Vacation? Thailand...Manifesting a trip Summer 2018.
Favorite pastime? Working out
Favorite protective style? CROCHET, off the charts.
One has to go: Haitian meal staples- griot, banan, macaroni au gratin, diri blanc? I can eat my rice with the griot, with pasta. The banan can go!!
If you have someone who you want to nominate for future installments of The Women Who, send a name and a brief bio to me at email@example.com