Hey readers! Welcome to the last full week of OT month and our second to last OT feature! I have gotten some great reviews on these features, and I am so happy that you guys are loving them! Comment below if you would like to keep seeing OT features after OT month ends (perhaps once a month). This week I am featuring one of my classmates, Cori. She recently held a fundraiser, supported by SOTA, for The Phoenix. I love her drive and commitment to serve individuals in our community! Let’s learn more about Cori!
Happy final week of Occupational Therapy Month, everyone!! My name is Cori Ianni, and I just finished my 1st year as an OTD student at MGH Institute of Health Professions. My background before graduate school consisted of a wide mix of opportunities. I have worked as an exercise specialist, a camp counselor for adults with physical disabilities, and as a research intern for Boston-Harvard Burn Injury Model System. My undergraduate roots are in Recreational Therapy (RT). My favorite experiences in RT were being a standing partner in a wheelchair dancing class, interning at a clubhouse for adults with brain injuries, and learning about new and exciting assistive technology for leisure participation. The path I have chosen to occupational therapy has been so rewarding and enlightening. The remarkable people I have worked with, and the experiences I have gained make me feel supported enough to do big things in OT!
Although, I am not sure where my future OT profession will take me, I know that I will be thriving if I am working with people to improve or maintain brain functions. The brain is an amazing organ that controls so many functions, including emotions, thought processes, memory, speech, and planning. There is still so much I want to learn!
Why did you decide to become an OT?
I first encountered OT in high school when I interned at both a hand clinic and a skilled nursing facility. I fell in love with the absence of the monotony I had pictured in desk jobs. The job is always changing based on what clients need. OT allows me to be on the move, talk to people, and create positive change. It also challenges me to creatively problem solve how to enable people to achieve satisfactory performance. Us OTs look at all aspects of a person’s life (skill sets, attitudes, values, social ties, and environments) to determine what needs to be changed to empower success. Helping people lead their ideal lifestyles and learning from them along the way really drives my passion for OT.
What is your favorite part of OT?
I love working closely with people because I enjoy exchanging knowledge and stories, and sharing new experiences. I will get to learn from so many people who live and define quality of life differently than I do.
What is occupational balance to you, and how do you maintain it?
I am ALL about balance. I am someone who is happiest when I am doing things. My friends describe this as my need for constant stimulation (I can imagine their eyes rolling now). So to maintain balance with school, I set aside time to be active. I enjoy running, biking, going to the gym, and walking my dog, Rocky. These activities always make me feel ready to conquer the day and relieve my many school stressors. I also make free time between my studies to do the things I find most relaxing, like seeing my friends, getting outdoors, doing yoga, or watching Netflix (lots of Queer Eye!). Another thing that I do, and highly recommend to all students, is making the environment I study in more relaxing. For me, this means keeping a candle lit next to me, listening to instrumental music (Lofi hip hop on YouTube is great), and sipping on a nice cup of tea.
It’s important to remember that occupational balance changes per person. It’s whatever makes that person feel like they are doing enough in the life areas that are important to them. Of course, as a student this balance can wax and wane. Balance may mean changing your mindset or environment to make the things that stress you out less stressful. It’s important to always look for opportunities to better your mental, physical and social health. So, make time for doing the things that make you happiest.
Fun Facts About Cori
I am very interested in opportunities for OT to get more involved in community settings. Recently, I started volunteering for the Cambridge Health Alliance’s Community Room, led by Cathy Haines, OTR/L. This community resource uses a milieu approach to give people with mental health disabilities a place to come together nonjudgmentally, form lasting relationships, engage in arts and crafts or games, and to enjoy the many snacks and beverages offered. As a volunteer, I get to help create the welcoming environment and engage in many discussions and activities with the community members. Truly, everyone benefits.
Another amazing community resource I have been collaborating with is The Phoenix Boston. The Phoenix is a beautiful gym facility that creates a supportive and inviting space for a “sober active community.” They offer free physical activity classes to people in recovery from substance use disorders or to anyone who comes as a supporter. Classes offered include: yoga, rock climbing, and CrossFit. Recently, I led a fundraiser for this organization and I am currently planning the next, larger-scale fundraiser for this summer.
Favorite OT social media accounts?
I love Allison’s blog, of course! She has such unique ideas for getting the word out about OT, and for connecting OT students and professionals alike. If anyone is considering OT as a profession or just wants to learn more, it would be worth reading her blog to hear about her school and professional experiences thus far!
Also, as a huge fan of TEDx Talks, I recommend looking up Helene Polatajko BOT, MED, PhD. She explains OT concepts simply and brilliantly. Here is one called “The Problem with Cookie-Cutter Physical Therapy.”
Thanks for reading!