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Madison Williams AC’18: Being Assertive & Welcoming Opportunities

Hey hey! My name is Madison Williams and I am a senior majoring in Health Education and Behavior with a minor in Disabilities in Society. I am currently applying to graduate schools with a passion for attaining my Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, and one day my Ph.D. Since joining ADPi, I have created friendships with women who genuinely want to see others achieve in college and beyond. We support one another. The motto “we live for each other” is our favorite hashtag for a reason. Besides having been a Chapter Foundation Ambassador for ADPi, I am a Co-Director for Camp Kesem, Service Co-Chair for the Student Occupational Therapy Association, mentor for students through mentorGNV, and volunteer at Shands Hospital. I am also shadowing occupational therapists and working on my senior thesis. Needless to say, I have my hands full. My involvement in Gamma Iota has inspired me to be assertive in my pursuits.

Like so many, the pandemic has brought a unique aspect to my college experience. Socializing and participating in our favorite activities changed, disrupting our understanding of normal. However, the pandemic was a time for me to reflect and find my purpose moving forward. To grow into the strong adult we all want to be, we must spend time independently learning about ourselves and where we want to take our lives. College is a time where students have control and can chart their path forward. I have tried to commit myself to this understanding as much as possible. Yet, after having been on the pre-health track for two years, I was confused and lacked direction.

Something I have in common with my sisters in Gamma Iota is a zeal for sharing our values. Before the pandemic hit, I was lucky enough to attend a mission trip to Jamaica with a former ADPi. Georgia Lenas was a senior when I was a freshman and now is in OT school at UF. During recruitment, I noticed the mature ladies representing ADPi. I remember thinking to myself: If I end up with half the ambition these ladies possess, I will be proud. This is the moment I knew I wanted to run home to this chapter. As I began to meet everyone, I noticed that many of the girls who inspired me were indeed seniors.

On my mission trip, whether I realized it or not, the missionaries were occupational therapists in training. While I was fulfilling my role as a missionary, I was also finding a greater purpose. Georgia and I were helping people with disabilities participate in daily activities: feeding, brushing teeth and playing with friends. These daily tasks are often overlooked and taken for granted but may bring a sense of dignity to one’s life. Georgia used her skills from OT school to help improve another’s quality of life. I was amazed and wanted to learn more about how one could utilize knowledge from this health profession on a trip rooted in faith.

A couple of months into the pandemic I decided on occupational therapy as my future career. I was excited yet also nervous to have made this realization in a world that was purely virtual. Now, as the pandemic is ending, I am shadowing occupational therapists in person. This week I finished shadowing at my first occupational therapy setting: pediatric occupational therapy. Each day was encouraging and reinforced my decision to become an occupational therapist. Every therapist I shadowed was compassionate towards their patients. By watching the therapists treat patients with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Down syndrome, Apraxia, Cerebral palsy, Social anxiety, etc., I continued learning that occupational therapy’s main goal is to help patients participate in daily activities improving their quality of life. Something I found astounding during shadowing is that OTs have a profound psychological understanding behind behavior change in human beings, and this requires extreme patience in treating people.

Of course, college is filled with opportunities for socializing with friends, which is obviously encouraged. I have found authentic people at UF and intend to maintain these friendships for many years to come. FOMO is real, but my best advice is to balance your life as much as possible. This is harder than it looks, and I fail more than I succeed at stability in life. However, trying to keep an open mind and embracing opportunities UF may present to you will bring more benefits than I could describe in words. For many of us in ADPi, our best source of reliance and energy is each other. I am looking forward to an amazing senior year with AC’18. I love you all!

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