About Me

At its core, this blog chronicles the challenges, joys and discoveries of my experience in graduate school as I earn my master’s degree in occupational therapy.


About the Blogger
I believe that knowing basic demographic facts about a person can help you orient yourself to their perspectives on life and points of view on various issues. Of course, demographics can also help people put others in unfair categories, stereotype them or dismiss them as incredible or unintelligent.
In the interest of helping readers of this blog understand a little more about the posts I write and what’s behind them, I hope to make this “About Me” page just informative enough to help you get to know me, but ambiguous enough that my musings and writings can be understood and appreciated by a wide variety of people.


My name is Lauren and I am a young woman living, working and blogging in the southeastern United States. I am a Christian, and I am the youngest of two children. I speak English as my first language and Spanish at the “limited working proficiency” level. I weigh less than 100 lbs. and I am less than five feet tall, but the adjective that most people I know use to describe me is “sassy!”

My mother is a registered nurse who works in a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic. My father is retired from a 20 year career in the military, and he is now a postal worker with his associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. He has deployed on multiple occasions to places around the world, including Germany, Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq in my lifetime. My mother’s work as a nurse and my father’s military experience inspired me to find a health career in which I could work with military men, women and families, and that’s how I found the wonderful field of occupational therapy!

I have been in a long-term and long-distance relationship with my boyfriend for over 4.5 years. We met in high school and we have been together throughout my 4-year college career. Although it has not always been the best of times, I love being with him because he always knows how to inject some rationality into my insanity and bring calm to my anxiety.

I consider myself an open-minded intellectual who enjoys meeting new people, learning about their experience of the world and traveling to see how life around the world is both very similar to and very different from what I’ve grown up with and what I know.


My Experience with Occupational Therapy

My path towards becoming an occupational therapist began back when I didn’t know what occupational therapy was. I was in my sophomore year of college, trying to find a career that combined all of my interests – creativity, health care, communications, education and psychology – into something that I would enjoy and that paid well.

After talking with my pre-health careers adviser, I agreed to shadow a few people in healthcare-related fields and see what I might like to pursue. I talked to my mom about her career in nursing, shadowed a physical therapist and even asked a veterinarian about what she did. But none of these careers were quite on the mark.

Then, in the summer of 2012, I started volunteering with the occupational therapists in the outpatient therapy department of a local hospital. After only a couple of days in the clinic, I knew that I was meant to be an occupational therapist. I couldn’t think of any other career in which I would be able to use my knowledge of anatomy and physiology, my background in cross-cultural studies, my Spanish language skills and my desire to help other people in such a unique and impactful way. And so my love affair with occupational therapy began!

Currently, I am interested in working with the growing population of veterans and wounded warriors returning from war with amputations, traumatic brain injuries and a plethora of other physical, mental and emotional disabilities. I also hope to work with children, especially those from socioculturally diverse backgrounds.

Since then, I have shadowed and interned with occupational therapists in multiple settings. I have also worked at a camp for people with disabilities and interacted with therapists who work in academia, research and private practice. In short, I have just begun to get involved in the world of occupational therapy, and I know that things are only going to get better from here!


Occupations and Interests

  • Bellydancing. I started bellydancing in 2009, and I haven’t stopped shimmying since! I perform a variety of dance styles including Egyptian cabaret, urban tribal, and gypsy and I have experience dancing with a variety of props including veils, zills (finger cymbals), and a 25 yard gypsy skirt! I have bellydanced in a group, in a duet, and as a soloist, onstage and off and I love every minute of it.
  • Reading. I have had less time for it since my senior year of undergrad started, but when I can find the time I am a voracious reader. I love reading historical fiction and romance, and I have tried reading Game of Thrones but couldn’t get into it. I also really enjoying reading scientific articles about occupational therapy, rehabilitation, mental health, military medicine and a variety of other topics.
  • Percussion. I have been a percussionist since I was in the 8th grade, although everybody I encounter guesses that I play the flute. This probably has something to do with the fact that most people don’t consider me – a 92 lb., 5’ 1” girl – the kind of person who plays the marching bass! I’ve been on a drumline since I was 13 years old, and will never hesitate to tell you that drummers are the noisy, funny and awesome heart and soul of any musical ensemble.
  • Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. For the past three years I have been volunteering with a local organization that teaches English to adults in the community. I ended up loving it so much that I minored in it! Working with people from all over the world to help them learn English and achieve their goals in life is such a rewarding and life-changing experience, and I hope to continue working with people in this regard after I relocate to start grad school.
  • Watching trashy TV. Shows I have been known to enjoy include Teen Mom, Catfish, Teen Wolf, and The Bachelor. I am also SUPER into TLC’s Bride Day Fridays, and my roommates and I always make sure to squeeze at least one wedding show into our lives every week!


I hope this page helped you get to know me a little better, and I hope you’ll follow me on my occupational therapy journey!


25 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Claudia October 5, 2014 at 12:27 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for making this page! I’m a current undergrad, and I, too, want to work with veterans and individuals with TBI and PTSD, and my father is also ex-Military. It’s so great to find an outlet such as this to help me in my grad school search!

    • lej1123 October 5, 2014 at 12:52 pm Reply

      Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you find my site useful, and it’s great to know that there are other people out there who are interested in working with veterans. Please let me know if there is any other information you are seeking throughout your grad school search, and I would be more than happy to connect you with resources and information about OT!
      Best of luck with the grad school process!

  2. Natalie Allen May 9, 2015 at 1:11 pm Reply

    Just trying to decide if I should go to an expensive OT grad school, or wait to see if I get into a less expensive school (I am 7th on a wait list), or take a gap year & work and try to reapply to some of the same schools or even a couple new programs? I would love to hear your perspective!

  3. Derek May 25, 2015 at 11:45 pm Reply

    Hello Lauren,
    Thank you for your blog! I am an American citizen currently working on my MOT in Australia! If you could provide some info on the process of becoming a registered and certified

    • lej1123 May 27, 2015 at 11:27 am Reply

      Hi Derek! I think the last part of your comment got cut off, but here’s some info on the process to become licensed to practice as an OT in the United States:

      “When becoming an OT or OTA, there is one final step after finishing your educational requirements, and that is obtaining a license to practice! Most states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico require occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants to have a license to practice in each respective state or territory. This is what gives an OTR or OTA the “L” at the end of their credentials (OTR/L or COTA/L). If you think you may be moving around during your time as therapist, it’s important to keep in mind that a different license is typically required to practice in each state or territory. The licensure process varies slightly by state, but does tend to be similar.

      The basic steps for obtaining a license are: 1) graduate from an accredited OT or OTA program, including completion of all fieldwork requirements, 2) pass the NBCOT exam, and 3) apply for a state license and pay a fee. To locate the licensing agency in your state, please refer to the AOTA website.

      Some states allow practitioners to practice on a temporary license, while waiting to take or receive the results of the certification exam. You will need to refer to the regulations in your state to find out if you are eligible to practice on a temporary license.”

      (This info is from p. 25 of the Prospective OT Student Guide, which you can read here: http://abbypediatricot.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-ultimate-guide-for-prospective-ot.html)

      Hope this helps!

  4. Macy Rockwell February 2, 2016 at 9:06 pm Reply

    thank you so much for the information! I am currently an undergrad in Spokane and I am hoping to go to OT school so your site is extremely helpful! Thank you!

    • lej1123 February 2, 2016 at 9:50 pm Reply

      I’m glad you found my posts helpful! Best of luck applying to OT school, and feel free to comment or email me at Gottabeot1@gmail.com if you have any questions!

  5. Linnea DuLac February 22, 2016 at 10:09 pm Reply

    I have stumbled on your blog and instantly fell in love with the wealth of knowledge you provide!! I am just starting out, literally, finishing my prerequisites so I have a long road a head of me, so I greatly appreciate the supportive attitude you provide. Thank you!!

    • lej1123 February 22, 2016 at 10:46 pm Reply

      Hello Linnea! I’m glad you found my blog and that it’s been helpful to you. 🙂 Congrats on finishing your prereqs, it’s no joke going to OT school! I hope you have a great year, and please email me at Gottabeot1@gmail.com if you have any questions in the future! Good luck!

  6. garyadams1 March 2, 2016 at 7:19 am Reply

    Awesome story! It’s easy to see your passion for the field. When will you become an OTR?

    • lej1123 March 2, 2016 at 10:44 am Reply

      Thanks! I really do love OT. I’ll be done with my last fieldwork and academic requirements by August, so I’m hoping to take the NBCOT exam around September and start practicing this fall!

      • garyadams1 March 8, 2016 at 3:10 pm

        Glad to hear that – I can’t wait to read as your journey continues! – Gary, SLP

  7. Meghan June 22, 2016 at 10:31 am Reply

    I would just like to thank you SO MUCH for having this blog. It really is a testament to your passion for the OT profession and is incredibly helpful for people who are just becoming interested in the field like me. Thank you, thank you!

  8. Meghan June 22, 2016 at 10:33 am Reply

    I just wanted to thank you so much for starting this blog. It really is a testament to your passion for the field and is incredibly helpful for people like me who are just starting to learn about occupational therapy. Thank you, thank you!

    • lej1123 July 10, 2016 at 8:22 am Reply

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

    • lej1123 August 24, 2016 at 11:15 am Reply

      I’m glad you enjoy it! 😀

  9. Jeremy Johnson August 17, 2017 at 5:51 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I am hoping to provide awareness to your audience of our company’s 3rd annual Scholarships Program awardee in the Allied Health field. This specific scholarship was created for students who have dedicated themselves to helping others in the Allied Health industry and have a need for financial funding. This year’s recipient is an Occupational Therapy student from Red Springs, NC!

    We would like to provide this student some local and national exposure to celebrate this accomplishment, as well as, create awareness for future students to apply. I would appreciate any help in channeling this information to your audience. I have a MS Word doc press release and photo that I can send you. Please let me know your thoughts on this.

  10. Karen Allison September 7, 2017 at 7:04 am Reply

    I am an OT with many years experience. Like many of you I had a specific population I wanted to work with when I was in school. In my case, it was burn patients. As it turns out, my career took me in very different directions! I have loved every minute of it. Every patient has contributed to my book of knowledge. Keep your options open! I have never worked with burn patients!

    • lej1123 January 20, 2018 at 11:00 pm Reply

      Thanks for commenting, Karen! That is great advice, as both of the jobs I’ve had since becoming an OT have been in settings where I’ve had little or no experience. Every day is a learning experience, and it’s such a versatile career that I know I can choose to specialize or stay a generalist. Yay for OT!

  11. Juli McGruder September 30, 2017 at 2:03 pm Reply

    Hi Lauren,
    I am a semi-retired OT educator who teaches an anti-racism workshop to first year MOTS. I have an African American male student this year and he is, I think, feeling a bit like a unicorn because he asked me if there are other black male OTs! I’m was googling to send his a link to AOTA;s Black caucus and I found your blog. I’ll be sending him this link too. thanks for all you do.
    Dr. Juli McGruder

    • lej1123 January 20, 2018 at 11:02 pm Reply

      Hello Dr. McGruder, and thank you for your kind words. I am part of the Board for the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity, and there are two amazing African American male OTs as part of our organization who I’m sure would be happy to talk with your student about their experiences and his experience. I’m going to Google your info to see if I can find you to connect!

  12. Anuj Agarwal November 6, 2017 at 5:39 am Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Gotta Be OT has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 75 Occupational Therapy Blogs on the web.


    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 75 Occupational Therapy Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.


  13. Amy Goddard December 8, 2017 at 2:11 pm Reply

    Hi, Can you repost a link to the Cotreat Article you authored in Advance? I found it on another blog, but the link does not work.

    • lej1123 January 20, 2018 at 10:56 pm Reply

      Hello Amy, I did not author an article on co-treatments for Advance, so I don’t think I can help you with this. Sorry!

  14. […] is a reflection from a doctoral student in Occupational Therapy, Lauren, who attends graduate school in the U.S. southeast. In her blog entry on How to Handle Loneliness […]

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