I am a Mexican woman whose life has been humble, with my people. I grew up in a one-room shack on the edge of the desert in a part of Arizona that looks much more like Mexico than the rest of the United States. We had no bathroom, and old clothes and shoes. The other kids made fun of me at school. It was difficult, and still is, for me to rise above the crushing burden of poverty, both my own and that of those around me.
I try to appreciate the flavors of poverty, accepting what we cannot change. So, for me, crossing the border into Mexico from Arizona along with Habitat for Humanity, was not such a culture shock as it was for other members of my group. I was better prepared to see children begging on the street for money and toddlers selling basket weavings and handmade leather purses to tourists.
When I walked through that front gate of that orphanage fourteen years ago, I found my calling in life, my destiny, and from that moment on I have dedicated myself to Occupational Therapy: the handmade wheelchairs, mini walkers, a girl with Spina Bifida trying to walk, bravely holding herself up as Ms. ____, the Director, showed me around the living area. The beginning of my love and guidance was now trying to help these children and I set my heart on becoming an OT professional.
My life has been a flight of bittersweet memories, all of which must be understood in the light of grinding poverty. This has given me both humility and determination to work long hours while I care for my aged mother as she did for us when we were little. I am not certain that I will ever completely overcome the legacy of being born into one of Tucson´s poorest working-class families, with no toys, bikes, or things that most all other children had, but we used our imaginations and played with what we had, climbing trees and swinging and jumping from the tree branches, collecting old wood around the neighborhood and bringing it home. My sisters and I sewed curtains to post in our little tree house, and my brothers had a big treehouse where they would often disappear and daydream. I remember the cleaning, hand washing clothes, and long hours spent cooking and making tortillas outdoors on an old metal drum can, which we filled with wood/ I cooked and turned the hot tortillas with my fingers making several dozen a day for my familia.
Growing up without the support of a father, and a mother always working one of two jobs, I was stunted by neglect and found it difficult to bond with either teachers or my peers. In Junior High School, I envied how most classmates communicated and played with ease; by contrast, I was quiet, timid, and lonely. I feared human contact so much that for a period I could not even bring myself to look at the faces of those who spoke to me. Like a dark twisting road, spiraling poor grades, I was ashamed of every report card I had to show my mother. But this began to change by the eighth grade. Tired of being bullied by school kids and picked on because I wore old clothes and shoes and had no friends, I became determined to change my life, and I delved into art and gymnastics, activities as foreign to me as a family car trip or a vacation. I recognized that the answer had been in front of me this whole time, to better myself.
My mother was my greatest influence. A single parent, she cared for and raised eight children while maintaining a full-time job and working on her degree in nursing. My mother is a survivor who raised decent children, teaching us to never give up. We were taught to believe that we could overcome any obstacle and achieve happy lives. I decided to tackle the world and became an adventurer by the eighth grade, learning to overcome the fear that had shackled my childhood personality, and elevating my aptitudes through sheer passion. Finding others who needed help provided me with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment and it is where I have always found my greatest joy and dignity. I was encouraged to reach for better things and to excel through hard work and discipline. For us, life became an even greater struggle after my mother began to suffer terribly from rheumatoid arthritis. My siblings and I still care for her. I have learned that action gets things done and motivation stimulates my creativity. I want very much to go back to school so that I can redeem much of the time that I spent with my mother by studying for a master's degree. It makes my mother smile when she sees me studying and strengthens me even more.
My culture has impressed upon me a respect for others; this is why I also cared for my grandparents until they died. I spent my afternoons and weekends with them helping to make their lives easier. I am a professional caregiver by my very nature. It is the only thing that I have ever really known. It is my life. Nevertheless, I became the first in my family to enroll in college and earn a degree, my AS, and now I am an OT Assistant. I am an extremely hard worker and I love my studies. I was also the first to apply when this new school opened in my neighborhood offering the associate of applied science degree. I have been particularly proud of continuing my education at the University level. With the impact my mother taught me to apply to life, I have pushed myself forward, doggedly practicing without tutors, or special learning tools, despite the increasing demands of my work and school curriculum.
More than any other milestone I have surpassed, I am most proud of my success in overcoming my shyness, taking courses in communication and public speaking at the university level, and becoming comfortable communicating regularly with my peers. My role as a certified occupational therapy assistant and teacher in the community has given me the opportunity to become a leader and to speak confidently. I have grown as a clinician and become highly motivated to help therapists accomplish their goals. I have worked in hospital settings, outpatient clinics, and alongside highly skilled nurses in nursing homes and sub-acute/post-acute settings. I have also had the privilege of serving in school settings and hospitals working with children and pediatric nurses.
Attaining my BS Degree in Business Management has now provided me with the necessary foundation for graduate study. I want to devote my life to caring for older people and so I most look forward to the study of geriatrics. I understand that America has an aging population and I feel privileged to devote my life to the study of their care towards the end of life. It is especially important to help our older people to feel fulfilled through occupational activities and this is what brings me the greatest joy. Like Don Quixote, I follow my impossible dream.
Most of all, it is because of my many years of working in this field that I feel fully qualified to embark on my journey to enter a Master´s Program.
Thank you for considering my application.
Occupational Therapist Personal Statement