Georgia a white female in her cap and gown with her arms wide open outside the Sheffield Hallam University sign.
Newly Qualified Occupational Therapist

Graduating as an Occupational Therapist With Cerebral Palsy

Hey up, it’s been a while! A rather casual entry this week, but this is an blog after all and therefore, this weeks post is going to be exactly that. Not a story about an ableist experience for me to pick apart but a reflection of graduation day, so that I can look back on this post, to make me smile if I’m having a bad day. 

So, let’s begin graduation day 2021- a day to celebrate!

As you all know, I am very passionate about this profession, and can’t wait to kick start my career in occupational therapy (whenever that will be). Yet, graduation day was extra special to me, because I’ve known ever since seeing my cousins in a cap a gown when I was younger, that I wanted to do that one day.  Therefore, I was already overly excited in the queue to put my gap and gown on never mind anything else.

Yet, my excitement about the day meant that nothing could go wrong. Therefore, I decided to write an itinerary a few days before to ensure that I had enough time to do what I need to do, as well as getting them all-important photos in at landmarks significant to me at university. I’m so glad I wrote an itinerary because it worked and certainly made it easier (I’d certainly recommend doing this).

Let me introduce to you my ‘uni big sis’, Abi.

Georgia and Abi, 2 white women stood in cap and gowns in front of a tree. Abi it to the left with dark hair and a black dress Georgia is to the right with brown hair and a blue dress.

Abi and I have been so close throughout university and she has really helped me out a lot for example, she used to take me to university most days (pre-pandemic of course). So, to spend the full day with Abi was special, and certainly was the perfect ending to our uni experience. This photo here shows us in our cap and gowns standing where we first met on the first day of university. We just had to do it, to complete the chapter!

Georgia a white female in her cap and gown outside. Stood to her right in her dad and her mum and sister are on the left.

Of course, I had a photo with my family, it was great to have my family there as I certainly wouldn’t have been able to have got my degree if it wasn’t for their support. Thank you, fellow Vines! 

After photos, it was onto the graduation ceremony. I was so excited, but also nervous about tripping up on stage or something. I guess everyone is, but when you have cerebral palsy it’s not far from reality, hence why I wore my trusty Converse. So, no CP related incidents happened and luckily they didn’t, because I went on stage twice!

I went on stage twice because as well as my degree, I have also been awarded an additional prize for excellence in adversity. It was such an honour to be awarded this prize. Yet, the biggest honour of all was to receive this award alongside my friend Khan who also got the award. Khan and I also got asked to give the Vote of Thanks Speech, hence the second trip (which didn’t involve tripping up) onto the stage, which again was a real privilege. There were a few other people within our ceremony that also got some great additional awards, and have achieved amazing things. So, to be asked to give the vote of thanks speech amongst these worthy award winners was special. 

Khan in his cap and gown on stage delivering the vote of thanks speech. Georgia is to his right smiling as him as he speaks.

Khan and I had to choose between us who would give the speech. Yet, there was no choice as I put Khan forward to tell his story, as he deserved for his story to be heard. Plus, I know that it wasn’t just my cohort within the graduation ceremony, but my cohort has heard my story enough times. Khan still wanted me to stand up there with him which was an honour to be by his side. 

Georgia a white female in her cap and gown in her wheelchair with a Sheffield Hallam University photo backdrop behind her.

Graduation was truly a special day, and over 2-weeks later, and I’m still in disbelief that it finally happened. 

What’s next? 

The truth is I don’t know what is next, I’ve been enjoying my time working on a few projects and making presentations for both national and international conferences. Which not many newly qualified practitioners can say they have had the opportunity to do so, therefore I am very fortunate. I am so, excited to speak and be involved in my first in-person conference next week-The Occupational Therapy Show.

As, for the job and the ‘set in stone thing’, I’m still figuring that bit out. In the New Year, I am certainly going to be re-evaluating my approach to the job hunt. Yet, for now, I’m just making the most of the wonderful opportunities that have come my way, as well as volunteering and gaining that experience, all ready for the perfect job opportunity. 

How long did it take you to find your first post-grad job? Please let me know!

Thank you as always for your time,

Georgia x

P.S At the moment blogs may not be as frequent, as I am quite busy working on some exciting projects behind the scenes and job hunting (in case you didn’t know). But, I do plan on doing my next blog post pretty soon to fill you in on The Occupational Therapy Show. So, see you soon! 

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