Celebrating Achievements of the Occupational Therapy Faculty and Students in 2023

The Occupational Therapy Department has a lot to be proud of in 2023. The following are a list of faculty achievements:

  • Dr. Deborah Bolding published an article entitled “An exploratory survey of incivility experienced by novice occupational therapists educated using a servant leadership model” in the Journal of Occupational Therapy Education.
  • Dr. Chiao-Ju Fang received the 2023 SJSU RSCA Seed Grant Program Award and was also awarded the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) 2- year implementation grant on her research project entitled “Implementation of App-Based Coaching Intervention (Social Participation and Navigation; SPAN) to Promote Participation of Young adults with autism spectrum disorders ASD).”
  • Dr. Lynne Andonian is now a Fulbright Specialist and was recently appointed to the California Board of Occupational Therapy (CBOT) Practice Committee.
  • Dr. Megan Chang and Dr. Katrina Long were invited guests by the AOTF at their 61st Annual Corporate Meeting in San Francisco where they took part in reviewing the status of the 2023-2025 strategic plan, presented committee reports and voted on the AOTF Slate of Elections. In addition, Dr. Long’s proposal for the AOTA INSPIRE 2024 conference in Orlando, FL, was accepted as a poster with the topic entitled “Design and baseline characteristics of PreActive-PD telehealth coaching to increase physical activity in early-stage Parkinson’s Disease.”
  • Dr. Cesar Arada is the newly elected OTAC Region 3 Director-Elect. He was also reappointed to serve a second term as National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Ambassador for California.
  • Dr. Hiral Katri presented at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy’s Global Initiative Group, where she shared her experiences as an OT working in India.
  • Dr. Luis Arabit was the recipient of the 2023 Luella Grangaard Political Action Award from the OTAC at their annual conference in Pasadena. In addition, his podium proposal to speak at the AOTA INSPIRE 2024 in Orlando, FL was accepted with the topic entitled “AOTPAC and AOTPAC Ambassadors: Partners in Advocacy for the Future of Occupational Therapy.”

Skyler Trezona has been awarded the Evelyn Jaffe Scholarship from CFOT.

Kiana Shibata has been awarded the Lisa Test Endowed Scholarship from CFOT.

Dr. Courtney Boitano has been awarded the Lisa Test Endowed Research Award combined with the CFOT Research Grant Award.

Ciara Stewart has been awarded the Wilma West Scholarship from CFOT.

Oldest OT Program in the Western U.S. Celebrates its 80th Anniversary!

By: Dr. Luis Arabit, Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy

On November 3, 2003, the Occupational Therapy department, in the College of Health and Human Science at San José State University (SJSU) proudly celebrated its 80th founding anniversary. The program was founded in 1943 as one of the first occupational therapy programs in the Western United States and is the oldest accredited Occupational Therapy program in the California State University system.

The celebration was held at the SJSU Student Union Ballroom and featured two well known leaders in the OT field as co-keynote speakers, Dr. Lela Llorens and Dr. Penny Kyler. Both speakers discussed the importance of membership in OT professional organizations and also addressed the significance of increasing diversity equity and inclusion in the OT workforce through advocacy and recruitment. The event included attendees such as former alumni and faculty who have contributed to the OT program’s rich history. The celebration also hosted concurrent educational sessions for attendees with invited guest speakers who are graduates of the OT program. The celebration culminated with a dinner reception complete with a photo booth, a jazz band and raffle prizes provided by event sponsors.

Tremendous appreciation goes out to the Chair of the OT department, Dr. Gigi Smith, the OT Staff, Faculty and the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) who volunteered their precious time to contribute to the success of the celebration! Happy 80th Anniversary to the OT Program!

**A little piece of SJSU OT Program history: In March 1943, the OT curriculum was presented to the AOTA Council on Education for approval and by June 1944, the program was fully accredited with Ms. Mary Booth as the first appointed occupational therapist in charge of the program. Soon thereafter, Ms. Booth received an academic appointment as Assistant Professor and was responsible for establishing the foundation upon which the program was built. During Ms. Booth’s tenure as department head, the department grew as well as the quality of the educational curriculum. Through a gift in Ms. Booth’s will the College established the Mary D. Booth Occupational Therapy Endowment Scholarship in her memory. (Lorraine Pedretti, 1993.  History of the department of occupational therapy, 1943-1993).

Research on SJSU Faculty in Residence Program Published by an Interprofessional Research Team

By Luis Arabit

On March 8, 2023, Dr. Luis Arabit, Occupational Therapy Assistant Professor, and a former Faculty in Residence (FIR) (2018-2020) at University Housing Services at San José State University, together with a team of faculty researchers from the various fields of Occupational Therapy, Biology, Education, Political Science, Mathematics, Psychology,  and Public Administration published a qualitative phenomenological research study entitled “The Impact of Faculty-In-Residence Programs on Faculty Development” (https://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol20/iss3/06/). The research article was published in the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice.

As lead author, Dr. Arabit was thrilled and immensely proud of the team of faculty researchers who worked collaboratively and tirelessly on this project. He stated that “Research such as these showcases the relevance of university-based FIR programs and its impact not just on students but also on faculty development.” The results indicated that faculty participation in FIR programs helped facilitate faculty development in teaching, research and service performance, which in turn created opportunities for student engagement, student sense of belonging and student success. Beyond the positive results, transcending themes of diversity, empathy, networking and organization were uncovered, which enhanced FIR faculty professional development. In addition, the study also found that to achieve overall positive impact of FIR programs, program goals and objectives need to be aligned and agreed upon by university, residential life administrators, and faculty.

The research project received a grant of $12,000 from Project Succeed of SJSU in 2019 with the assistance of the late Dr. Patricia Backer. Congratulations to the collaborative effort of this interprofessional team of researchers!

Celebrating April as OT Month and Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month!

By Katrina Long with contributions from Luis Arabit

While April is celebrated as Occupational Therapy (OT) Month, it is also Parkinson’s Disease (PD) Awareness Month. The Parkinson’s Foundation sponsored a Moving Day Walk, which is a nationwide grassroots campaign that “spotlights PD on a national level and gives the chance to raise awareness and funds in our own community”. Dr. Katrina Long, OT Assistant Professor, organized a team (called “Occupational Therapy Department- SJSU”) to represent the OT profession and the SJSU OT department at this event, held April 15, 2023. The event was a great opportunity to advocate and support the PD community as well as showcase the valuable role OT plays in the lives of people living with PD. The walk raised nearly $700, all going toward  “continuing to improve the quality of care for those living with Parkinson’s disease”. Dr. Long was joined by OT students and faculty both in person and virtually. In addition, Dr. Long was interviewed live on air by CBS News on April 26, where she highlighted Parkinson’s disease month and the role of Occupational Therapy (https://www.instagram.com/reel/CrgHl6uJzb1/?igshid=ZWIzMWE5ZmU3Zg==). Congratulations!

Occupational Therapy Students Out and About in the Community

By: Dr. Luis Arabit

Every spring semester, the Occupational Therapy (OT) department offers an introductory course (OCTH-224- OT in Community I) with a service-learning experiential component that exposes occupational therapy Masters graduate students to the distinct and emerging role and service OT offers in emerging and non-traditional settings in neighboring communities around San Jose.

This spring semester, despite a rocky start to community placements due to the spreading Omicron variant, students were finally provided placements in a variety of community settings, which included the Homeless Garden Project, AACI Moorpark, Boldly Me, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, and AACI Story Road- GLOW Project. These community sites serve individuals, groups and populations that are affected by social determinants of health issues such as homelessness, joblessness, immigrants experiencing trauma, increasing incidence of HIV infection, children experiencing mental health issues, and those experiencing various levels of poverty. The aim of the course is to apply the social model of health to promote participation and engagement in health-promoting occupations and to describe how conditions such as poverty, trauma and disability can create occupational imbalance, restriction, alienation, or deprivation which influences individual and community health and well-being.

As an example, OT students who were placed in the Homeless Garden Project Center developed a proposal that centered on homeless individuals where they designed a program that emphasized on addressing the mental and physical health of participants, assessing  individual abilities, discussing personal goals, values and interests while working on relevant and appropriate vocational skills, that would  help place them at work and job sites that would best suit their abilities and interests. This proposed program by the students exposes and increases student learning about the infinite possibilities for occupational therapy to be of service to individuals and groups who are marginalized in society.

As part of the requirements for this course, the OT students develop a community profile and action plan based on collaborative and participatory needs assessment strategies. They analyze community resources, and identify any need for additional and potential resources of support for possible program development. In the process, they are guided to identify how occupational therapists can assume various roles of consultants and collaborators in emerging community practice areas to promote health, well-being, community development while meeting the occupational needs of the community. As a culminating final assignment, the students reflect on the role of the occupational therapist as a health-promoting advocate and global citizen.