Meet Our Students – Ramon Flores – “Education Creates Pathways to Success”
Major: Master of Occupational Therapy
Are you a first-generation college student? If so, please share with us why you were inspired to go to college and why you picked UTEP.
I am a first-generation college student. I have always tried to set a good example for my friends and family members, especially my brother. My belief is that education can create pathways to success and present new opportunities. I was inspired to go to college because I consider education important, and I want to improve my life and help my family economically. My first graduate school acceptance was at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. One week later, I received an acceptance letter from UTEP. I decided to stay at UTEP because I like the structure of the program. I liked that the class size was smaller, which meant that professors were going to be more available to students. I also liked that the program has a good passing rate for the national board exam. I made the best decision because I have made a new family with all my peers and professors, and they have always been supportive of me.
What sparked your interest in the MOT Program?
Ever since I was a kid, my mother received occupational therapy after each of her surgeries. I have always been with her during therapy, and I enjoyed that time. The occupational therapists always tried their best to help my mother continue her life by providing adaptive equipment, setting meaningful goals, educating her in many ways, and making sure that she was improving. Since then, I knew I wanted to do the same for other people and to provide another opportunity for others to live their best life, no matter their condition. Now that I am in the program, I know that I have made the right decision, and I cannot wait to help my clients improve their lives.
The MOT Program has a very competitive admissions process. What do you feel helped set you apart as a candidate?
The admissions process was quite stressful for me because I had a lot on my plate. I had to plan ahead in order to have all the requirements ready on time. To prepare, I reviewed the MOT website multiple times so that I would be familiar with what I needed and by when. While I was doing my observation hours with occupational therapists, I tried my best to learn and create experiences that would help me improve. Planning helped me to be more organized. I also used the writing center multiple times, wrote as honestly as possible, and put my heart into my personal essay.
What has been your greatest challenge academically so far, and what did you do to overcome it?
Every semester is a challenge because we have a lot of work to do, but it is for the benefit of our knowledge. One of my greatest challenges was during my first fall semester. During this time, we were taking difficult classes. We had quizzes and exams almost every day, presentations, practicums and other group projects, and it was hard to study for everything. I was feeling that I was not resting at all. Every day was challenging, so I had to change my way of studying. I began to start working on everything earlier, planned ahead for the week, and woke up at 4 a.m. to complete all my assignments. After that semester, my study routines improved, and I now feel more confident in my studying abilities.
What has been the most interesting experience you have had in the MOT Program?
I have had many interesting experiences during the MOT Program. One of the most recent ones was a few weeks ago when we created two different splints for the thumb and wrist. The process was challenging, but I loved it. The experience increased my interest in hand therapy. Another interesting experience was when we had the opportunity to do cadaver lab. It was a great opportunity to observe each system of the human body.
Please share what you have learned in your clinical internship that you feel has prepared you for your future career.
I was assigned to go to Fundacion Integra in Ciudad Juarez during spring break, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. Our professors worked so hard to help us find a way to have a similar experience. They worked collaboratively with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to create a virtual experience. It was great because we learned more about telehealth and various mental health conditions, as well as how to support the homeless population. During that experience, I was also able to learn new things that occupational therapists can do, as well as how important it is to consider the client’s goals and interests in order to create meaningful interventions and to provide better outcomes.
What advice would you give to a student thinking about studying occupational therapy?
Occupational therapy is a unique profession. If you like helping and listening to others, are excited for opportunities to meet different people with different conditions or needs, and have a willingness to learn new things, this is a great career choice for you. The program is not easy. It is challenging in every aspect, and it requires a lot of your time and dedication.
I understand that there is a gender imbalance in the profession, as there are more female therapists than male. If you are a male and considering this wonderful profession, do not hesitate to apply. If more males start applying to this program, the imbalance will decrease, and you can make a difference.
If you really want to study occupational therapy, start preparing yourself now. Start volunteering and imagine yourself as one of the best occupational therapists so that your dreams can come true. Do the best that you can do, because it is worth it!
For more information about the Occupational Therapy Program, please visit: www.utep.edu/chs/ot