Occupational Therapy Success Stories


Mil WajanakunakornMW

Major: Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
Overall GPA: 3.51
Graduation Year: 2018

Which school are you attending?

University of Southern California

What drew you to this particular health field?

I was drawn to the fact that occupational therapy emphasized the importance of a person's psychological and emotional well-being, as well as their physical needs. I was able to witness within a pediatric clinic that a child can be diagnosed with a musculoskeletal disorder but OTs will also observe how this disorder affects the child's social interaction with their peers or ability to cope emotionally. Seeing that a disability can affect multiple facets of a person's life, I like that the care mirrors that dynamic.

Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?

Yes. The main reason I took a gap year was to have ample, focused time to work on my OT application and give my best effort towards it. I did not want to have my attention divided to finishing up my coursework or other school-related activities. Ultimately, it was a good decision for me as I was able to work and save up some money for graduate school, gain more OT experience, and relax and spend some time with my family.

What UC Davis extracurriculars did you participate in?

I did two HRIs--one at the UC Davis MIND Institute under the supervision of a child life specialist and another one at UCDMC Hand Therapy Clinic under the supervision of an occupational therapist. I also joined the Pre-Health Ambassador Network (PHAN) and later on HPA as one of the peer advisors. Additionally, I was a research assistant for two years through the School of Education looking at the emotional regulation of young children. Having that research background in the education field complemented my experience as a teacher's aide at the North Davis Elementary School--an internship that started with taking EDU 100 but extended to multiple years. Finally, my last year at UCD, I interned at the Interfaith Rotating Winter Shelter. It is an organization in collaboration with a number of congregations in Davis that provides a meal and a place to stay for the homeless population during the winter seasons.

Did you use a test prep course?

I used the Princeton Review to study for my GRE exam.

What do you consider to have been the strengths in your application?

I believe my commitment to my volunteers, internships, and OT experiences was the strength in my application. I had a great time with all the opportunities I had and was able to form lasting relationships with my supervisors. Having that positive experience, I was able to showcase that through my essays, strong letters of recommendation, and interviews.

Did you apply nationally? If so, where?

Yes. I applied to schools in Washington, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida to both entry-level Master's programs and entry-level Doctorate programs.

How did HPA help you achieve your goals?

HPA helped with my application, but also provided guidance when I didn't know what I wanted to do career-wise and reassurance when I felt like I was falling behind. I am grateful for all the support I got from the staff advisors and peer advisors.

What advice would you like to share with others?

Explore as many areas, as many interests as you can whether it directly supports your career goals or not. Every skill is transferable. Every experience is valuable.