Mentorship Matters: Becoming a Lifelong Learner

Calling all mentors! Did you ever receive assistance, advice, or support from a professional mentor during your academic or professional career? If so, now is your chance to give back and help the next generation of OT practitioners become the best they can be. Read on to learn about the impact you could have as a mentor in COTAD’s Minority Mentorship Program.

The blog post below is from Crystal Mandudi, OTS in reference to her experience with her mentor Ebonee Crow, OT.

Ebonee Crow, OT (Mentor) Crystal Mandudi, OTS (Mentee)

Last summer while searching for prospective OT programs, I found a developing OT program at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) that was accepting its first cohort in Spring 2020. At that time, I began following their Facebook page and noticed a post for an opportunity for students to be involved in a minority mentorship program. The mentorship program is a part of, you guessed it, COTAD! I was super interested as I felt I did not have a real grasp on the OT profession. I knew I would benefit from having a mentor I could relate to preferably with a similar background, shared experiences, and someone who had already taken the steps I am currently taking right now. So, I signed up.

Several months later, I applied to the UMHB MSOT program, interviewed, and was accepted. I fell in love with the school, program, and wonderful faculty. Due to the influx of mentees signing up for COTAD, I was not placed with a mentor immediately but fortunately I had the support of my cohort and faculty during my first semester at UMHB. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit its peak, on-campus classes moved online and my life changed drastically. Fortunately, in the midst of this crazy pandemic I was matched with my mentor, Ebonee Cole, and the timing could not have been better.

In the past few months of meeting with Ebonee, I have enjoyed getting to know her not only as an OT practitioner, but also as a person. We have discussed our concerns regarding COVID-19 and how it has affected our routines, school, work, and family life. As a mentor, she has helped me set personal goals pertaining to school and she keeps me accountable in following through with each. Another great thing we have begun in our mentor/mentee meetings is to come prepared to discuss an article on a specific topic. Our first article was about ergonomics and how OT can be best utilized in certain settings (since that was something I was enjoying in class at that time). Currently, we are researching articles on mental health and the effect of OT interventions in preparation for my Level I Psychosocial Fieldwork this summer.

Throughout our meetings, I have gained some wisdom about maximizing my OT education experience. For example, one helpful habit I have developed is regularly reading journal articles outside of class every week to further educate myself about OT. For example, I have recently been reading about different settings where OT is provided and specialty areas within the profession I am interested in pursuing. Ebonee told me she wished she would have done more of this while in school and early on during her career and I am grateful that she shared her knowledge in this area with me. She has also encouraged me to be actively involved in my OT program and stresses the importance of therapeutic use of self. She told me that even though it is great to be an educated and skilled OT practitioner, it is most important to have compassion and empathy toward your clients.

While conversing with Ebonee, it has been great to hear the material I have been learning about in my classes brought to life via her clinical experiences and information about how various skills are applied in the field. Our future plans include setting new academic and personal goals, continuing to read and discuss research articles, and review case studies in both professional and clinical situations. I have enjoyed having the support and insight from a practicing OT while being a student, and I am so grateful to be a part of the COTAD MMP experience!

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