Occupational therapy alumna hears calling to help others

May 23, 2017

Luciana Macaluso '17 receives her occupational therapy pin on the 100th anniversary of the profession — on May 5 — with 75 other graduates

Luciana Macaluso ’17 has had a passion for helping others for as long as she could remember — which is what drew her to our occupational therapy program.

More than our state-of-the-art facilities, interprofessional events and a bevy of student resources, it was the sense of community and extraordinary professor-student relationships that helped her realize she belonged in #BobcatNation — and she hasn’t doubted her decision since.

“The professors were incredibly compassionate and caring,” Macaluso said. “They treat you like family.”

As a student, people would always come first for Macaluso. She participated in numerous community-service initiatives as a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, including working to promote advocacy for children in the foster system, cleaning up public parks throughout southern Connecticut, and volunteering in New Haven’s soup kitchens.

Her commitment to helping others inspired her to form our Occupational Therapy Mentorship Program, which pairs younger occupational therapy students with older peers to provide academic and professional guidance — something she considers her crowning achievement.

“It’s easy to get lost in the academics,” Macaluso said. “You need to put yourself out there and get those other experiences – even the small things can have a ripple effect.”

Her hard work and dedication earned her the respect of her peers, who voted her to the Occupational Therapy Student Advisory Board. As a board member, she strengthened professor-student relations and promoted program development — all the while balancing a challenging academic workload.

“The curriculum here is demanding, but the outcome is well worth all the effort when you can have a meaningful impact in someone’s life,” she said.

As Macaluso stood with 75 other occupational therapy graduates during the program’s pinning ceremony on May 5, she did so on the 100th anniversary of the profession — the significance of which was not lost on her. She had previously co-authored an article published in the American Occupational Therapy Association Occupational Therapy Practice Journal about it, and attended the AOTA centennial conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this year.

Following graduation and her final clinical placement, Macaluso plans to pursue work as an occupational therapist with a specialty in pediatrics. However, “work” doesn’t necessarily describe what she sees as a true calling.

“If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” she said.

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