Sarah Elliott ’23

Gustavus Adolphus College: Where Success Stories Begin

St. Catherine University

Major: Exercise Physiology

Tell us more about your accomplishment.

I am in the first year of my Master of Occupational Therapy program at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. I began the program in June of 2023 and thoroughly enjoyed my experience. The program spans 2.5 years, and I plan to graduate in December 2025. I feel well prepared for the program after my time at Gustavus.

Why did you choose Gustavus Adolphus College?

I really loved the family-like atmosphere at Gustavus! As a volleyball player, I felt the support of my fellow athletes and the students, professors, and community members. The small class sizes were also a massive plus for me, as they allowed me to build strong relationships with my professors. These relationships have been incredibly beneficial for me, not only academically but also professionally.

How have the Faculty and Staff helped you become career-ready?

My professors played a significant role in preparing me for my career. They provided practical insights into grad school requirements and supported me in drafting personal statements and letters of recommendation. During my sophomore year, Heidi from the Office of Health Professions suggested I apply for a job at PCA, which proved very helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also reached out to them to edit my resume and personal statement.

What was your most meaningful experience at Gustavus, and why?

The experience that had the most significant impact on me was playing volleyball at Gustavus. This program helped me build lifelong friendships and introduced me to some amazing mentors. Through Gustie VB, I learned much about professional development, emotional regulation, and work ethic. These lessons will stay with me through grad school and into my future practice as an occupational therapist. 

Apart from sports, my senior year internship was another wonderful experience. As an intern for the Lund Center, my task was to bring more students into our new facility and help them feel welcome despite their experience level. This allowed me to develop my leadership, professionalism, and organizational skills. I also had the chance to apply for a grant, which we were fortunate to receive. With this grant, I started organizing and teaching exercise classes to students. As a result, I obtained my ACE Group Fitness Instructor Certification, which has been very useful as I now teach fitness classes at multiple locations while in OT school.

Tell us about where your journey with your accomplishment began.

I first learned about Occupational Therapy while volunteering at the Easter Seals children’s clinic. I saw the children playing and going through obstacle courses, and I thought, “Wow, that looks so fun!” After that experience, I started learning more about OT and what they do. That was the moment I knew it was what I wanted to pursue.

What steps did you take to achieve your accomplishment?

When I decided to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy, I began exploring different roles that would help me gain relevant experience. I started by working as a PCA in home health, then in an assisted living facility, and finally as a paraprofessional in a local school. In addition, I searched for clubs on campus that would help me grow personally and professionally, and that’s when I joined Gustie Buddies.

What advice would you give to other students or prospective students?

Get involved! There are so many excellent jobs, organizations, and people at Gustavus. I recommend meeting as many people as possible because you never know who might positively impact your life. Also, feel free to fail. College is a great place to try new things and a safe place to experience setbacks. Whether it is applying for a job, volunteering to gain experience, attending grad school, or trying a new student organization, the potential reward outweighs the risk.

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By Hector Aguilar
Hector Aguilar Assistant Director for Outcomes and Strategic Initiatives