Keiser University student Selena Berrios understands the importance of occupational therapy. But, she says, that value can often be taken for granted.

“It’s really fulfilling because yes, medicine saves lives, but occupational therapy makes your life meaningful,” Berrios said. “I have always had a bleeding heart when it comes to healthcare and helping people. I think that there’s a lot of value in occupational therapy, and just the little things that we take for granted every day is stuff that people really want back. I want to help people get back to what they love to do.”

Berrios, 23, is enrolled in the Associate of Science degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Keiser University Tampa. Growing up Berrios says she always wanted to help others, and knew she was destined for a career in healthcare. As the only daughter in her family, and the only female of all her cousins, Berrios says she took on a caretaker roll, wanting to keep everyone safe. Then after turning 16, Berrios was blessed with a baby sister and her caretaker role took another step forward.

“I saw the aging process, and I didn’t even realize when I was watching her develop that I was watching the stages of human development, and that’s part of occupational therapy,” Berrios said. “It’s helping people go through those stages. It was a crazy thing to see, and it make me value a lot of things.”

Occupational Therapy is the art and science of helping people gain skills needed to become independent in daily living activities. Students in the Keiser University OTA program learn the therapeutic use of occupations, including self-care, work and play activities to maximize independent function, enhance development, prevent disability, and maintain health.

Berrios says the instructors at Keiser University Tampa have a wealth of knowledge and an abundance of real-world experience they are willing to share with their students to help set them up for success. She says they inspire her to one day be able to share her own knowledge with the next generation of OTA professionals.

“My instructors and my professors play such a big role in my development, and my professional development, but they are also going to be people that I look back to and ask questions with I’m stumped, or I need new ideas. They’re always there and always looking for help,” Berrios said. “Any healthcare profession is difficult, but you have to have your heart in it and you have to know what you’re doing is important. People that are passionate about it, they know what they’re doing, and they know how it’s helping and changing lives.”

After graduating with her degree, Berrios hopes to begin working as a pediatric occupational therapy assistant.

Keiser University is a private, independent, non-profit university serving nearly 20,000 students at 21 Florida campuses, online, and two international sites. Co-founded in 1977 by Chancellor Arthur Keiser, Ph.D., and Evelyn Keiser, Keiser University currently offers more than 100 degrees from associate to the doctoral level. Keiser University is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in providing Social Mobility by U.S. News and World Report in 2023.

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