Studying OT at Deakin has completely changed my life

Hi, my name is Luocheng (Rod) Zhang and I am studying a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (OT) at Deakin’s Geelong Waterfront campus.

I am extremely grateful to have the privilege of studying OT at Deakin University. Deakin provides excellent OT facilities such as the advanced Occupational Therapy Learning Hub, real-life simulation spaces and community-based Practice Education Space. The friendly and knowledgeable OT staff help me to achieve my goals and have a great study experience. For me, the best part of the program is clinical placement. Since the first year of the course, we have been taking part in a series of supervised placements in a range of OT practices. This is a great opportunity to put theoretical knowledge into practice.

Few people know that I studied OT in China for two years before coming to Australia. During that time, I realised that in the OT profession was at a disadvantage in my country as a result of lack of resources and regulations. Chinese students hesitate to choose OT as a career because there are limited opportunities to undertake quality study in this profession, which means that people in China are left with poor access to OT services. This is what has driven my ambition to pursue OT in Australia and I hope that I can make changes to OT in China in the future.

During my first year at Deakin, I established a WeChat-based social media platform named Success at OT, with the aim of helping the development of OT in China. Initially, I shared what I had learned and witnessed in Australia and then this platform went viral among Chinese OT students and practitioners. So far, it has connected over 9000 followers and has been regarded as the first and the most popular OT resource platform run by students. I have arranged different group discussions and activities regarding the current issues and possible solutions for OT in China. I have also invited dedicated occupational therapists and academic professors from around the world to share their expertise via webinars. I believe this platform is not only bringing resources to Chinese OT, but also broadening students and therapists’ horizons and greatly inspiring their passion.

Knowing the challenges that come with being an international student, I became a student peer mentor to assist new students to transition into university life, navigate resources and engage with other students in a variety of activities. I also took a role as a leader in the Leadership and Internship program at Deakin University English Language Institute (DUELI) from 2017 to 2019.

A proud moment receiving my Students Helping Students Award.

Recently, I received a Deakin University 2019 Students Helping Students Award in the experienced category, and I was also the winner of International Student of the Year – Regional in the 2019 Victorian International Education Awards. Both of these awards were a great honour. I take pride in the recognition of my efforts and contributions and will continue to speak for international students and make contributions to communities both locally and globally.

After graduating from Deakin, I hope I can get more work experience here in Australia, and then bring my experience and expertise back to China to shape the OT profession there.

Occupational therapists educated in western countries are highly sought after in China, and many of them take on leadership roles with such degrees and experience. I hope to be an advocate of OT and promote the teaching of OT in China. I also have a strong ambition to pursue a higher research degree in the future to help me gain more insight into OT.

Being a global citizen is one of the eight graduate learning outcomes at Deakin University. With both the intrinsic passion I have for developing OT in my home country and the knowledge I have gained at Deakin, I am confident in my ability to identify challenges, develop a worldly view and draw on local and global perspectives.

In conclusion, studying OT at Deakin has completely changed my life. I could never have imagined such a bright future if I had not come to study in Australia. In the future, I hope I can bring Chinese occupational therapists to Australia, so that they too can share the Australian experience with China. Hopefully, we can establish an occupational therapy bridge between east and west.

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