OTD candidate followed a different path to find her passion

February 02, 2024

Crystal Lentz sits on a stadium bench

As a new Bobcat, Crystal Lentz ’23, OTD ’26, began her School of Health Sciences undergraduate studies in pursuit of becoming a medical doctor. But her Quinnipiac experience showed her there were other paths to explore.

During her first year, in a class exposing students to other healthcare professions, Lentz discovered Occupational Therapy (OT). After earning her BS in Health Science Studies in three years’ time, with minors in psychology and music, Lentz applied and was accepted to Quinnipiac’s Post-Baccalaureate Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. She joined her cohort in July of 2023.

Lentz said it was a "light bulb moment" when an occupational therapist came to speak about the profession during an Introduction to health care class in the fall of 2020. After learning about OT, Lentz discussed her interest with Deanna Lynn Proulx, clinical professor of occupational therapy.

“We decided it would be best to take OT-101 in the spring, to gain an understanding of the numerous aspects of occupational therapy," said Lentz.

In the spring of 2020, attending classes via Zoom due to the pandemic, Lentz had the opportunity to hear from hand therapist and Quinnipiac alumnus Ryerson Stinson, ’07, MOT ‘13. Intrigued, she scheduled a separate Zoom meeting with Stinson for further discussion about his profession.

"After speaking with him, I was set on pursuing a career in Occupational Therapy," said Lentz. “Among numerous aspects of OT, I really liked how you can build a relationship with the client and the holistic approach within it.”

Lentz was enrolled in Quinnipiac’s BS/MOT program during her first and second years as an undergraduate. In her junior year, Lentz was able to complete her BS and apply to the entry-level OTD program.

To date, Lentz counts shadowing an orthopedic surgeon in the operating room, together with working in the Standardized Patient and Assessment Center (S-PAC) on the North Haven Campus, among several exceptional opportunities provided through Quinnipiac’s OTD program.

While she has been interested in pursuing hand therapy, Lentz said she has learned from her undergraduate experience not to close the door on other potential pursuits in the field.

“I was very set on hand therapy and then, this past semester, I took neuro, which connects with clients with issues such as brain tumors and strokes,” she said. “I realized that was something that I hadn’t known much about. There are so many possibilities within OT itself, in ways that I never really thought of before.

The class sparked an interest in Lentz, who co-founded a local non-profit, Conquer Brain Tumors, Inc., in 2018. Lentz continues to head up the organization, which raises awareness for childhood cancer and brain cancer and fundraises to support brain tumor research.

“My cousin Vincent passed away from brain cancer at the age of five and I hope that raising awareness and funds will help to further finding a cure,” said Lentz.

This semester, Lentz is excited that her cohort is being placed in pediatric field work.

Exposure to different areas of OT has Lentz considering a spectrum of possibilities for her future career which may also tie back to her other interests and abilities, such as sports and music. In her hometown of Haddam, Connecticut, Lentz has been an avid softball player and continues to pursue her interest in musical theatre in community productions.

“We took a research course last semester and I did one of my papers on community integration in stroke clients and musical theatre,” said Lentz. “In a couple of years, when we do a capstone project, I’m probably going to do something along that aspect.”

As an undergraduate commuter student attending Quinnipiac, Lentz joined a sorority, Tri Delta, which she said helped her to connect with the broader Quinnipiac community. She encourages undergraduates not only to get involved with their fellow Bobcats, but also not to be afraid to follow an interest which may lead to a different academic path in their Quinnipiac experience.

“If students are even interested in something, take a look," said Lentz. I would say my proudest moment at Quinnipiac so far is finding my true passion for Occupational Therapy and sticking with it and not giving up throughout the process of deciding if OT was right for me."

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