Learn about how mentee Ashika Shah, BS, OTS and mentor Dr. Sakshi Tickoo, Occupational Therapist learned from and supported one another to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Ashika Shah, BS, OTS
I decided to join the COTAD Mentorship Program* because I wanted to learn more about the profession and receive support as a student in the first cohort for the Johnson & Wales University (JWU) OTD program. Additionally, my personal experiences in the healthcare field have been different than those of my cohort. I never knew this opportunity existed until I became the Co-chair for the JWU COTAD Chapter, but when I learned about it I jumped at the chance to speak to a myriad of occupational therapists regarding their diverse experiences and future endeavors.
From our very first Zoom meeting, Dr. Tickoo and I created an exceptional bond. We talked about everything and anything; from personal experiences that led us to the occupational therapy profession to personal struggles we have had during the COVID-19 global pandemic to diversity in the OT field. Another topic Dr. Tickoo and I discussed was the potential effectiveness of OT in postpartum and pregnancy care. We analyzed how OT practitioners can help mothers reduce occupational imbalance and improve physical and mental strength and wellbeing, and this conversation gave me the idea to pursue this topic for my capstone. These valuable discussions helped spark several ideas that I later helped develop into events for the JWU COTAD Chapter For example, one of the events the JWU COTAD Chapter organized was a panel discussion between a mother whose son was incarcerated, an OT, and corrections officer reflecting on the efficacy of OT in the prison setting. Despite being situated halfway around the world, Dr. Tickoo was able to attend the program and offer support for me and my classmates.
I fully recommend that any individual, whether they are interested in becoming a mentor or a mentee, take the plunge and take advantage of the COTAD Mentorship Program. This experience provides opportunities for experience and growth for mentors and mentees alike. For mentees in particular, the program provides the extra support someone might need to talk through issues as well as share thoughts and ideas about the OT profession. I would say that building an effective mentoring relationship does take time and lots of communication, but for me it was an experience like no other.
All in all, The COTAD Mentorship Program was a great experience that provided me the knowledge and support I needed to get through my first and second year of OTD school. I hope in the future that I too can become a mentor to other OT graduates!
Dr. Sakshi Tickoo, Occupational Therapist, Personal and Sexuality Counselor, Student and New Grad Mentor
There are several things I wish I had known when I started working as a new grad occupational therapist. Some of the barriers I faced before stepping into this field were unlearning westernized theories and concepts of OT practice and integrating Sexuality and Mental Health for people of all age groups into my daily practice. Unlike what I was told would be the case when I was a student, I have had the privilege of working with people throughout the life span – from age three onward – which has allowed me to constantly diversify my approach and intervention strategies with a special focus on Sexuality, Intimate Occupations, and Mental Health. I have had my share of drawbacks, unlearning, learning, and relearning, but the biggest barrier I experienced when I started working was having no one to guide me in this niche area of practice. After a year of navigating this role and sharing my experiences on social media, I felt confident enough to work towards my personal goal of becoming the resource I never had. Personally, I have always believed and fiercely advocated that for change to happen, everyone needs to come together and do the hard things. Creating an environment of support is crucial for creating positive change, which is what drew me to COTAD’s Mentorship Program (CMP). Being a part of the minority, I understand how important it is for us to be seen and how difficult it can be for us to represent what we believe in. CMP gave me an opportunity to connect with students all around the world. Ashika was the first mentee I matched with, and it delighted me to connect with a fellow desi from another country. Despite the distance, it has been a wonderful process of first getting to know her and then experiencing mutual admiration and learning, even in the perilous times of the COVID-19 pandemic. What has made this connection incredibly heartwarming is the fact that we can both comfortably say “I don’t know, but let’s find out” and embrace the uncertainty of not knowing everything! We have reached a point where we can talk about absolutely anything and somehow turn it around with an OT lens which is quite inspiring for me. I have seen Ashika talk about things she aspires to do and watch her take action to achieve her goals. Her resilience, honesty, hard work and commitment to changing the future of occupational therapy practice helps me remain hopeful of how we can contribute in our littlest ways to create a bigger impact.
The opportunities to connect, collaborate, and experience positive change are the ultimate virtues of COTAD’s Mentorship Program. I’d definitely recommend CMP to everyone who needs a resource, supportive push, guidance, or just another perspective on everything OT!
*Formerly the Minority Mentorship Program