What is SOTA? How does it have an impact on the Kean community? SOTA is the Student Occupational Therapy Association, and it allows students the opportunity to develop in their field.
The goal of SOTA is to provide students a way to personally and professionally develop into dedicated occupational therapists (OT). They also emphasize the importance of community service and educational excellence as a platform to advocate for others.
The organization strives to build a sense of community for occupational therapy students and interested Kean students on campus and to create mentoring and networking opportunities as well as social opportunities for students outside the classroom.
They hope to gain public recognition for occupational therapy as a career, participate in community service projects, promote awareness of current trends in the field, enhance environments and experiences which ultimately enables teamwork with other occupational therapists, organizations, and health professionals.
The e-board consist of President Olivia Maltempi, advisor Claire Mulry, Vice President Alivia Nufrio, Treasurer Melissa Delateja, and Secretary Jamie Szweada.
On Monday, Feb. 26, SOTA hosted a bake sale in hopes of spreading awareness of SOTA and funding the various activities they are a part of.
The members of SOTA wanted the Kean community to understand the importance of occupational therapy as a profession.
"SOTA is the student occupational therapy association where we are the Kean University chapter and our goal for SOTA is to promote the profession of occupational therapy. We also want to educate and advocate for the profession, future students and current students. It's a really great program for both undergraduate and graduate students, and we all come together to learn about OT and celebrate it," said Maltempi.
Szweada also noted that with the right exposure, undergraduate students can learn and meet other students who are in the program and actual therapists as well. Alongside the e-board members, Andrea Mechetti, a graduate student studying occupational therapy, had much to say in regard to the beginning of this program.
"The cause for this program would be to gain awareness in OT and help undergraduate students understand what OT is. We want to guide them in all areas to prepare them in the health profession because OT is such a broad occupation," said Mechetti.
Szweada is in her second year where she is exploring, but she does realize her passion for working with children in the future.
"The reason why I got into occupational therapy was because my younger cousin had an occupational therapist when he was younger, so I was introduced to it at a very young age. With that, I became interested in exploring it in high school [where] I was given the opportunity to learn about it. OT is a profession that really helps people, and we look at the whole person, beyond injury and diagnosis," Szweada explained.
Unlike Szweada, Mechetti would like to work with older adults. Because of her experiences with OT in college, she was able to achieve a greater respect for the profession.
"Around my senior year of high school when I was applying to colleges, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I was always surrounded by volunteering and healthcare. So one day I decided to volunteer with an OT, and I instantly felt this would be a great career path for me because it fits my personality very well," Mechetti explained.
Just like Mechetti, Maltempi found it very beneficial to do research on OT as it allowed her to gain a passion for OT.
"I also kind of stumbled upon OT in my high school years in the medical or health profession field, but I wasn't really sure so I started researching. Through researching, I was able to learn more about the profession and that it is perfect for me," said Maltempi.
SOTA is hosting an event in April called the Breakfast with Families for Autism (BFF) where they will celebrate autism for Autism Awareness Month. There will be food, games and a guest speaker that may provide education for adults and additional resources as well.
"There is usually a good turnout with 50 plus people, and it really gets people excited for the program and being a part of SOTA. It's very interactive with students and even potential clientele. A lot of the people that come to the breakfast might actually be involved in the Kean clinic on campus, so it's cool to see who OT is both in the clinic and community," Maltempi explained.
SOTA helps undergraduate students build their resume and get them accepted into the program, and they have seen some of their candidates accepted into the program. The BFF event will be their sixth and each time it is a huge success with children and parents.
Their ultimate goal would be to get students to understand what occupational therapy is because not many individuals know about it. They also seek to get individuals who are interested in OT and those who just want to learn.
What is Occupational Therapy? It is a profession that helps people across the lifespan work on their Activities of Daily Living (ADL). ADL is a term used in healthcare to refer to people's daily self care activities like showering or brushing one's teeth. An OT's job is to help individuals with these daily tasks.