The culmination of an occupational therapy graduate student’s classwork is commemorated by what is known as a pinning ceremony, where these exceptionally-trained individuals are acknowledged as they set out into their field. For this year’s class of 2014 Bay Path College Masters OT students, the size of the class dictated that the honors be held in the much-larger capacity of the new Longmeadow High School on December 12. One hundred eleven students received their pins officially recognizing their hard work and offering a formal goodbye to the classroom.
President Dr. Carol Leary, Provost Dr. Melissa Morriss-Olson, and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Michael Konig, joined graduate program director, Dr. Lori Vaughn, who told the hundreds of assembled family and friends that this largest-ever group of OT students will always hold a special place in the collective hearts of Bay Path College. “You were able to come together as a class and find ways to connect with each other,” she said, emotion swelling her words.
“You are in a time of transition, a time of change,” she added. “You are about to leave the structure and comfort—yes, I said comfort—of academia to take the next step in your professional journey. You are transitioning from your role as student to that of therapist, and you must transition from acquiring knowledge to applying knowledge. I know you are emotionally ready, but rest assured that you are also professionally and academically ready to not only face the next challenge, but to succeed.”
Each one of these students was a piece of a much-larger puzzle, Vaughn said—a unique entity responsible to a larger whole. When combined, she said, is a tapestry.
“However, when I envision your completed puzzle, it is completed on the reverse side, with the image not yet drawn,” she explained. “Your future is limitless, all you need to do is to color your image with your own unique brushstrokes. However, in making your mark, do not lose sight of the bigger picture—your family and friends both in the audience and at home, as well as your OT family here at Bay Path.”
Numerous awards were given to this exceptional group of student therapists, some with titled names such as “Spirit,” “Authenticity,” and “Flourish.” The most prestigious of the student awards that night, The Faculty Book Award, went to Amanda Rodriguez ’08 G ‘14. This honor is assessed by vote from the faculty to the selected student who has made a significant contribution to their community, something beyond the environs of the classroom. Rodriguez was chosen by unanimous decision. According to Vaughn, she “lives, eats, and breathes occupational therapy in every aspect of daily life.”
Many tears of joy shed as the names were read, each receiving their pins, that small token with such life-changing effect. “Although your journey here has ended, your OT journey is just beginning,” she said. “You will soar, but may your journey always bring you back home.”