On Saturday, May 6, 2023, the GW Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) presented the Class of 2025 with a Pinning Ceremony. The ceremony featured opening remarks from the department chair followed by words from the program director, academic fieldwork coordinator, and SOTA president and vice president.
GW OT student, Natalia Anzaldua, who intentionally designed the pins, said, “Let these pins be a physical reminder, worn close to your heart, for what we stand for. Hopefully, by wearing them, they will invite everyone around us to embark on this journey, too, to create a better and more inclusive society.”
The gifted pin encompassed four key elements of the program and symbolized what it means to be a GW OT student, future practitioner, advocate, and leader:
- The "Advocate," positioned in the front with a raised fist, represents the GW OT student enacting social change by promoting justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within the profession and community.
- The "Holding Hands" represents collaboration across professions to ensure occupational justice and inclusive engagement in society.
- The diverse "Community" surrounding the Advocate represents people across the lifespan who will be empowered by the delivery of evidence-informed occupational therapy.
- The "Globe" represents the efforts to be leaders and agents for social change on a community and global scale.
Faculty and students shared words of encouragement and inspiration while reflecting on experiences and accomplishments, and foreshadowing opportunities and challenges.
“Inaugural means to mark a beginning - to initiate, to be first - and it can be a risky venture towards that horizon, but you realize that with each movement towards the horizon, a new horizon emerges, a new vision, a new view, and a new opportunity. The GW OT program was designed to be dynamic, to discover, and to create new visions… I use the horizon analogy very intentionally because horizons are elusive. They're always moving, and I want you to keep moving until every person on this globe has the opportunities to live a meaningful life. When I look out at all of you, I see dreamers, creative innovators, and brave discoverers. You are the inaugural class. You are the first and you are the horizon seekers,” said program director Roger Ideishi JD, OT/L, FAOTA.
Department chair, Joyce Maring, DPT, Ed. D, urged students to push through challenges and utilize their resources and support systems. “The US Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that the need for OTs continues to increase at the rate of 14% over the next 10 years. The field needs you. We need you to provide our patients and communities with optimal care that’s going to maximize their health and wellness and gain the ability to participate meaningfully in all aspects of their lives… The curriculum is necessarily rigorous and you need to apply what you learn to be successful and effective in various settings… I feel very confident that each one of you can do it and I look forward to seeing you do just that.”
“Something everyone in the room should know is that I am a pusher," said assistant professor and academic fieldwork coordinator, Lisa Bagby OTD, OTR/L, MHA. "I push for personal growth and reflection and facilitate difficult discussions and meaningful interactions with the aim of creating a transformation. I aim to shift worldviews to be more impactful, humble, and considerate as healthcare leaders… Inequity and injustice are all around us and we must keep our minds open, choosing curiosity when faced with the need to challenge our beliefs and biases, to feel empathy and love… So, I urge you to push yourselves. Explore the corners of your discomfort and continue doing so in order to pull others up with you. We cannot grow and progress without moving through discomfort."
SOTA vice president, Iman Nasir reflected on the unique features of the attending GW and living in Washington D.C., as she said “this program is a safe space and unlike any other. It pushes educational norms and accommodates different backgrounds, cultures, learning styles, and habits. This accommodating perspective is an example of one of the values of OT: creating inclusive space. We strive to push inclusivity even further into the community… We want to create and see the change in our community. Being in D.C. offers us the opportunity to elicit this change face-to-face. So far, we've been to and provided our OT knowledge to the White House, museums, and different community sites that have varying populations of individuals. We have opportunities to serve our community while learning from them and we are so grateful for this."
SOTA president, Shannon Loiseau said, “This pinning ceremony is a representation of all of our hard work and dedication. Faculty and students alike are creating a strong foundation and we strive to be role models for other OTD programs to evoke social change and ensure inclusion. And it starts with us. We are so thankful for this opportunity to push OT to lead others and we're so proud of our cohort for persevering through challenges and leading the way and we want our cohort to continue to trust and lean on each other while pushing each other to be the best. We're really starting to grow and become a family and we can't wait to see what we all accomplish. I think it's safe to say that we all feel really proud to be a part of this inaugural class.”
As stated in the printed program for students and guests, Claude Thomas, programming & community coordinator at a partner community site, said, "The partnership between Our Stomping Ground (OSG) and the OT program at GW has had an incredible impact on our community, and our OSG friends eagerly await your arrival each month. Through the relationships you've cultivated, not only have OSG friends developed new skills that promote their autonomy, but they have also felt acutely seen, heard, and valued. Thank you for changing lives in more ways than one!”
See the full photo album from the 2023 Pinning Ceremony on our Facebook profile.