This week we have some blogs written by our Alumni as letters to our recent graduates. Allow yourself to be challenged, inspired and motivated by their messages.

Dear CCCU Graduates,

When I first applied for a place on the Occupational Therapy BSC course at Canterbury Christ Church University I was filled with apprehension of what to expect and how I would cope with the academic pressures that would be placed upon me. I have not, at any time, considered myself an academic but knew that my placements would give me the opportunity to shine and show my true potential. I have always worked in the caring field and enjoyed looking after and helping patients reach some measure of self-reliance and independence. Once the course began, I found it extremely interesting and validated that my choice as an occupational therapist was the profession I most certainly wanted to pursue. I have always been interested in mental health and knew this would be the area that I would like to gravitate towards once I had qualified.

As a mature student I have to admit there were difficult times, especially with growing children and working part time in order to help support my family. There were many sleepless nights, meeting deadlines for essays, but always present was the determination to achieve my goals and succeed in my chosen profession.

Being on placement was one of the joys of my course and putting theory into practice then seemed absolutely relevant.

After a short time, I felt I could not only connect what I had learnt whilst in lectures but could confidently apply the theory to real life situations.

Three years of study flew by and before I realised it, I was qualified.  This was when all the excitement of being a qualified Occupational Therapist really began and my passion grew even further as I entered full time employment.

I currently work on the Crisis Team with KMPT, which is where I was allowed to showcase my skills.  In addition, I received unparalleled support from my team in order to reach my full potential. I put together a Recovery Pack for patients during lock down, which was full of tips and advice to keep an individual’s mental health in check during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. After sharing pack with my Manager, this was then recognised by the NHS and developed further, for immediate roll out to patients. It was also shared on social media, and as a result I was contacted by health care professionals from all over the world requesting the Recovery Pack.

As a direct result of my efforts, I was nominated for recognition by my Manager and subsequently awarded an MBE.

I feel utterly overwhelmed that she felt I was worthy of this honour and am forever thankful for the tremendous encouragement and support I was given throughout by my team.

Through my own personal experiences it has been one of the best choices that I have made training to be an Occupational Therapist. I urge anyone who is interested to go for it as like me, I don’t think you will look back as the opportunities are endless.

Kind Regards

Justine Norris MBE, Occupational Therapy CCCU Graduate 2013, now part of Mental Health Crisis Team for the NHS.

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