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Kara DeRosa's Blog

Some OT Grad Events

A few weeks ago, in my OT Interpersonal Dynamics class, we had a guest speaker come present for us. TJ is a graduate of the University of Scranton and a war veteran. He was injured while serving in Iraq a few years ago. TJ is now totally blind in both eyes and uses a guide dog in his everyday life to help him to navigate through his environment. Having him come speak to us about the day to day challenges he faces and the positive impact his service dog has had on his life was inspiring.

On Thursday, the University’s Occupational Therapy Association hosted an event to help raise money for the America’s VetDogs. American’s VetDogs  is an association that sponsors various dog programs, including a guide dog program, a hearing dog program, a service dog program, and others. Several vet dogs came to our campus and donations were made to interact and learn more about these amazing, life changing animals.  The event was a lot of fun and helped to raise money for a great organization.

Another OT event that occurred last week was the Specialty Fair. At this event, occupational therapists from a variety of settings, backgrounds and areas come to campus and give presentations on their area of expertise. As a graduate student, I will looking for a job within the next year so this is a great opportunity to get an idea of the many different practice areas that I could potentially work in. It is great being able to talk to actual practitioners who are currently working to get a feel of what to expect as recent graduates in the field.

Saturday I registered for classes for the last time! It is so hard to wrap my head around the fact that I will never again register for a University of Scranton course (as long as I don’t fail anything). I knew this day would come but I didn’t realize how soon. The semester is more than half way over and I am just not ready for my final semester as a Scranton student. So, time, will you please slow down?!

Have a good week everyone & enjoy your Halloween weekend! I’ll be sure to post a picture of my costume next week so be sure to check back 🙂

The Scranton Family

Hi all!

This past weekend made me realize how proud I am to have attended such a close-knit university that really cares for all its students, both past and present.  On Saturday, a memorial 5K walk/run was held at Nay Aug Park to remember Michael Mulhall, a graduate of the University of Scranton class of 2010.  Michael was a loved son, brother and friend of many throughout the Scranton community.  The event is held to raise money for the Michael Mulhall Memorial Scholarship given to University of Scranton students pursuing a career in special education.

Despite the fact that it was predicted to rain all day, the sun came out to shine as people complete the 5K wearing t-shirts designed for the event.  The event was a huge success, raising almost $10,000! Although I did not personally know Michael, I can imagine that he was truly an incredible person loved by many, as shown by the incredible support of friends and family who came to the event.

It is events such as this one that remind me how incredibly lucky I am to attend such an amazing school.  I think its great that Scranton students, both past and present, are always there for each other.  This was proven this weekend by the number of people who came out to support Michael, despite never having met him, but because he was a Scranton student.  I think this is so because Scranton is such a school that promotes a sense of community amongst all of its students.

Add that to the list of reasons I love my school, a list that seems to be growing every day. I can’t imagine having found a school where I feel as much at home as I do here. At Scranton, we really are all one big family, always there for one another and helping each other to grow in the best ways possible.

As much as I love it here, I do have to say that I am excited to go home and see my real family this weekend for Fall Break. I cannot believe that it is already October and the middle of the semester… time needs to slow down! Each day that passes is one day closer to me no longer being a student here (SO SAD) even though I know I will be always be welcome back and will forever be a part of the Scranton family!

Have a good break everyone! 🙂


Saturday Adventures

Saturday morning I woke up to the sun shining in my window and didn’t care that it was only 8 in the morning when I was planning to sleep in.  I immediately sent a group text to 2 of my friends that I live with, “Wake up, the sun is out..let’s do something fun today!”  Within minutes they responded they were awake because, like myself, the sun had shone through their windows waking them up.  We decided we needed to be outside all day, thinking it was probably one of the last few days we would have such beautiful weather.  So, that is exactly what we did.

Our day started with a walk with a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts (can’t start your day without some iced coffee) followed with a walk around the beautiful Lake Scranton.  Located less than 2 miles from Scranton campus, Lake Scranton is a 3.5 mile loop an absolutely amazing view the whole walk around.  I couldn’t help but stop to capture this picture!


Our walk around the lake was followed by a trip to Nay Aug Park, another great place to spend time outdoors less than a mile from campus.  One of my favorite spots at Nay Aug is the treehouse.  It’s a great place to just hang out and chat with friends enjoying the fabulous weather.  Besides Lake Scranton, Nay Aug is my favorite place to go for a run.  What I love about it is the various trails that range in distance and difficulty so I can switch up where I go each time depending how ambitious I’m feeling that.

Nay Aug Treehouse

As you can imagine, after spending the day outside, we were starving when we got back to our apartment.  We decided to order a late lunch from Sacco’s, a local pizzeria and Italian restaurant also located less than 1 mile from campus. I would rate their pasta top 3 I’ve ever had.  They also have the largest garlic knots I have every seen.  So, we ended our day with a full stomachs and smiling faces.

Although it may seem like just a regular day hanging out with friends, I will never forget this day. It’s days like this that make me beyond grateful for the opportunity to attend such an incredible university.  Not only is the University of Scranton an amazing campus, there’s such great places around to enjoy with good friends.  Knowing it is my last year as a student has made me realize how fast time is flying by and I am constantly reminding myself to make the best of it.  Today, I definitely made the best of it.

So, the next time you are turning over in bed trying to hide the sun from your eyes, think again.  You never know what they day has in store for you and you won’t ever know if you stay in bed all day.

Enjoy your week everyone! 🙂


Love the Weinberg

Graduate year classes are very different from undergraduate.  I am taking this semester is called “Leadership in Occupational Therapy”.  One of our assignments for the class is to write a research paper about a topic of our choice explaining how it has changed over the years.  We are required to find 5 sources from each decade starting in 1910!

When I first heard about the, as we now call it, “Rita paper” (our professor’s name is Rita), I had no idea where to begin.  How was I going to find articles from the 1920s when they didn’t even have computers back then?  Well, I soon learned that the Weinberg would become my new best friend.

We had a class session where Bonnie, one of the lovely librarians, took time to basically show us the ropes.  She showed us to search the library catalog, how to find journals that related to our topic and also how to use microfilm to find articles from earlier decades. As Scranton students, we are so fortunate to have such amazing resources available to us.  Before I knew it, I was finding articles left and right without any trouble at all.  Even articles or journals that the library didn’t have, I was able to borrow from another library through a program called “Interlibrary Loan,” another great tool that Bonnie taught us about.

That’s just one of the many things I love about this school.  And it’s saying a lot when a student says they love the library.  But it really is a great place to get work done and find what you need in order to do well in classes.  Students should take advantage of the plethora of books, journals, and programs that our amazing library has to offer.

Happy studying everyone! 🙂

The Last First Day

“Happy last first day of classes.”  That was the text I got from my mom as I walked to my Monday morning class.  As a senior last year, all my friends were always saying, “This is the last time we are going to be doing this.”  As sad as that was to think about, I knew that I would be back in Scranton for another year to get my Master’s degree, so hearing those words didn’t have as much of an effect on me then.  Sure I knew graduate school would be very different than undergrad, but I still had another year before I had to leave Scranton for good.  But as I read that text on the first day of classes, I realized that I was going to have a lot of “lasts” this year.  I finally knew what all my friends were feeling when they complained about it being the “last” of something last year.

With that being said, I am determined to make this year, my last year as a Scranton student, one to remember.  So far, so good.  I can’t believe I’ve already been here for 3 weeks but as the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”  Graduate classes are very different than undergraduate classes.  When I got all my syllabi in my first classes, I was shocked to find no exams on the schedule!  That’s right, NO MORE TESTS!  Just lots and lots of papers. Did I mention I have a lot of papers to write? So like I said, very different, but I’m excited to see how I handle this change.

In other news, I have been keeping very busy outside of school work.  It took me almost a full week to completely unpack and organize all my stuff (I like to procrastinate).  I’m living in an off campus apartment with 4 other OT majors, which is great because we all have the same classes so are able to do all our work together.  I have a really good feeling about this year and I am excited to see what new experiences it will bring.

Have a great week everyone!


The End Is Near

Hi all!

As I sit here writing this blog, it’s hard not to start tearing up.  In just under 3 weeks, I will be walking across the stage to receive my college diploma (EEK!)  I have a ball of emotions lately from sad to excited to nervous to happy.   The past four years have truly been unforgettable and I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.

I recently read a blog post “The Real Reason You’re So Afraid To Graduate.”  It addressed how sure you’re scared to graduate and enter the “real world” and you’re going to miss hanging out with your friends all the time.  But it says the real reason that the idea of graduating is so scary is this: “At some point in the past four years, while you were busy giggling from exhaustion as you and your best friends ordered pizza to the library at 2am, this place became your home.”  

This could not be more true about the University of Scranton.  I can honestly call this place my home away from home and I think every student who’s about to graduate from here would agree.

Now, don’t get me wrong I have a lot of exciting things to look forward too as well (I told you my emotions are all over the place.)  Senior Week, an event hosted by the university, is a great time to enjoy the end of the school year and spend more time with friends before we actually have to graduate.  And at graduation, I will finally be able to say that  all my hard work over the past 4 years finally paid off. I am also excited about the next chapter in my life, Grad school.(Lucky for me, I will be staying for graduate school here at the U.)

So, if you are a student reading this, I hope the message you take away is to enjoy every single second of your college years because I have never heard anything more true than “they go by way too fast.”

Have a great week everyone & good luck on all of your finals! 🙂


There Is No Option

When I’m swamped with work and feel like I’m never going to get everything done in time, sometimes I question why I’m putting myself through this.  I find myself asking if it’s going to be worth it in the end.  If I do poorly on a test or don’t understand something I’m learning in class, I question if occupational therapy is the right profession for me.

But after last night, I don’t think those thoughts will ever cross my mind again because I know that deep down, being an OT is exactly what I want to do with my life.

In my Advanced Therapeutic Techniques class, we learn a lot about different neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  My professor still works as an occupational therapist at John Heinz Rehab here in Scranton.

In our class last night, we had a guest speaker who is the mother of one of my professor’s patients.  Her son, Damon, sustained a traumatic brain injury in a motor vehicle accident 2 years ago when he was just 17 years old.  She talked to us all about his injuries and the long road to recovery that he has been on and is still on.  She told us her her motto “There is no option. Damon will get better.”  has helped to get her through each and every day.

She showed us pictures and videos of the miraculous progress that her son has made over the past 2 years.  When she showed the video of Damon taking 8 steps across stage to recieve his high school diploma, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  And then she said something that really hit home for me.  She said, “None of this would have been possible without all of the therapy that Damon has gone through.”

It was then that I knew that being an occupational therapist is what I want to do.  I want to make a difference for people, like all of Damon’s therapists made a difference for him.  I want to someone to tell me, “Because of you, I was able to do something that I wanted to do.”


AOTA Conference Time

So, as you all know I am an occupational therapy major and a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association.  Every year, the AOTA holds a national conference where occupational therapists and students come together for a eventful weekend.  This year the AOTA Conference is being held in Baltimore, Maryland, not too far from us here in Scranton.  This is exciting as it allows an opportunity for student and faculty to attend the conference for the weekend and take part in all it has to offer.

There are many reasons to attend an AOTA Conference, even as a student.  First, it is an absolutely fantastic learning experience.  Presentations are made about a wide array of topics so you can attend those that are of interest to you.  There are poster sessions where various posters on research projects are displayed around the room for you to look at and ask questions about.

Second, going to conference is a great way to make connections with occupational therapists who are working in the field.  Although I still have another year of school, I think it is never too early to start making connections with professionals who may be able to help with employment or in other ways in the future.

Also, it is a great idea to attend conference while you are still a student because you get discounted rates for the hotel and the actual conference.  Especially this year since  Baltimore is within driving distance!  Anyway, I am really looking forward to attending the conference and sharing my experience with you all.

As a side note, the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams will be playing the playoff semi-finals game tonight, Wednesday February 26th.  The men’s game will begin at 5:30pm and the women’s at 7pm.  Come out and show your school spirit wearing your “Wolf Pack” shirts to show your support for both teams.  They both had amazing seasons and we wish them the best of luck as playoffs begin.  Good luck to both teams!

Have a great week!



The Beginning of the End

Welcome back to the spring semester of the 2013-2014 academic year.  This semester is really bittersweet for me.  I am more than excited to be back but the beginning of this semster marks the beginning of my last semester as an undergraduate student at the University of Scranton.  Although I will still be here next year to complete my graduate year and get my master’s degree in occupational therapy, it just won’t be the same.  Looking back on these past 4 years, I can not think of a single thing that I would want to change.  I have learned more than I ever thought possible about myself, other people and life in general and I have the U to thank for that.

Enough of me being senitmental.  This week marks the 3rd week of classes and I can’t even believe it’s been that long.  Granted, we haven’t had a full week of class yet due to the large amount of snow we’ve been hit with but classes so far have been going well.  This semester I am taking two OT courses: Geriatrics Practice Course and Advanced Therapeutic Techniques. I am also taking Saints & Holiness, Exceptional Lives & Family Health.  I am excited to see what these courses have in store for me this semester.

Over intersession, I completed my final Level I fieldwork at Allied Services Skilled Nursing Center right here in Scranton, PA.  I was able to stay in my off-campus aparment for the 2 week duration of my fieldwork and had about an 8 minute commute every morning so it worked out very well.  The best part was that I absolutely loved it.  At first, I was skeptical about working with the elderly population but this experience was definitely an eye-opener for me.  I am absolutely re-considering what type of facility I want to be working in when I graduate.

That’s the great thing about fieldwork; you get to experience many different settings and what it would be like working as an occupational therapist there to help you decide what works best for you.  Before I came to college, I was sure that I would be working with children when I graduated.  However, I am not so sure that is the case anymore and I have my fieldwork to thank for that.  I am looking forward to completing my first Level II Fieldwork this summer at the Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island in New York, where I live.

Have a great week everyone and stay warm!!


What OT Means To Me

As a senior, I have been thinking a lot lately about what I really want to do when I graduate.  I know I still have 1 year of grad school here at Scranton (which I am NOT complaining about) but it’s still scary to think what I’ll be doing after that.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  Even when I first started applying to colleges, I thought for sure that I would end up back in a classroom teaching.  That was until I learned about occupational therapy.

I first learned about OT through my mom.  She is a one-on-one nurse for a young boy with special needs.  There was an OT working in the school where she also worked and my mom thought that it would be the perfect fit.  After doing a bit more research, I decided to give it a try.

Looking back now, I think deciding to be an occupational therapy major was one of the smartest decisions I’ve made.  Going to my first OT class freshman year was intimidating because  I was still not sure exactly what an occupational therapist was or if I even wanted to be one.  To be honest, it has taken me almost 4 years to truly understand the meaning of OT.

If I had to describe in my own words what OT is I would say that it is a holistic therapy that incorporates the use of purposeful and meaningful occupations in order for the client to return to maixmal independence.  For example, as an OT working with a client who just had a stroke and needs to work on strengthening his upper body, instead of just having the client do exercises, such as lift weights, to improve strength, the OT would have him engage in a purposeful activity, such as dressing.

What I love most about OT is the client-centered approach.  The main reason that I want to become an OT is to make an impact in someone’s life by helping them in some way.  By having a client-centered approach to therapy, I feel like I will be able to make a difference for someone.

So as I’ve been thinking more about post-grad life, I remember the many lessons that I have learned these past 3 years and the many more I will learn in the years to come.  I now know for sure that I want to be an occupational therapist when I graduate and help people is as many ways as I can.  I think that as an OT, I can still fulfill my desire to be a teacher by teaching my clients what they need to know in order to regain their independece and improve their overall quality of life.

Have a good week!


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