End of the year reflections by 2nd year student Catherine Linehan

I am constantly impressed by each cohort of students that enter and graduate from our program. It is great to see connections and friendships blossom over the course of the program. During our inaugural pinning ceremony Catherine Linehan, a second year student, gave a speech that embodies the student experience at Tufts.

Catherine Linehan: “When I heard they were looking for a student speaker I jumped at the idea and opportunity because honestly I owe you all a huge thank you…. And I think I have something to offer as well.

When I say I owe you a thank you that does include a thank you for being so on top of every assignment we have ever had. You definitely kept me abreast to all of the upcoming things I would be working on.

But what I truly mean is a thank you for helping me develop. I think one of the greatest benefits of going to a great school (and yes we all know go to a great school) is the quality of the student body. We are in a room of very smart and hard-working people and I swear at some point every single one of you has expanded my perspective and thought process. Through all of the group projects we have done, the small group discussions, and even just class discussion you guys have raised perspectives, ideas, and experiences that I never even would have considered and had never thought of before. You all have truly been one of the greatest teachers I’ve had in the last two years…. Of course alongside all of our amazing faculty and staff. We are so grateful for the endless support guidance, and feedback and guiding us in forming our future identities at OTs. We would never be where we are without you.  I hope at some point in the past two years MAYBE I’ve done the same for you, but I just really wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you and I hope we continue to be each other’s best resources and teachers as we head into fieldwork.

Also, I wanted to share something with you that I’ve been thinking about with this last year approaching. Mary and Peggy have rubbed off on me and I’ve been listening to a new podcast called “The Happiness Lab” as I drive to and from school. I listened to an episode the other morning all about “self-compassion”. This is not to be confused with “self-esteem”. Self-esteem is contingent on success. Self-esteem is when we tell ourselves we are beautiful, we are good at xyz, or when we do something nice and somebody says ‘aww that was so nice of you!’. These past two years we have been building our self-esteem together… from our exam scores, our feedback on lab practicals, the feedback we get on our submitted assignments.

 But what happens when we fail? That’s where self-compassion comes in. It is not dependent on success or failure. Self-compassion is acknowledging that we are all human beings. Part of being human is being imperfect. Failure is part of the human experience. We are all in the same boat. We are going to fail, we are going to make mistakes, but we will not be alone in that and when we can have self-compassion and accept that, it allows us to care and want to do better next time. It allows us to grow from experiences, rather than beat ourselves up about it. And to me, that is what this whole next year is going to be about. Pushing ourselves outside of the safety net we have created with each other here, allowing ourselves to try and allowing ourselves to make mistakes, and be comforted by the fact that we are not alone in that. We may feel alone at times, not seeing each other at 574 every day and being the only student in whatever fieldwork setting we are in…. but we are all in that boat together. And I really hope we can continue to share our experiences with each other, learn from each other, and grow from each other throughout this next year, because like I said…. Your experiences and your perspectives have been one of my greatest teachers. And those experiences and perspectives are only going to grow.

The final thought I want to leave you on is that, although we may not have realized it, everyday we are here in Room 201, we are creating a legacy. We are the first OTD class at Tufts University, and that is truly something special and unique to this group of 32 students. Yes, the day to day experience can seem overwhelming, stressful, mundane, and ritualistic…. A simucase assignment here, a physdys exam there, another reflection everywhere…. But if you really think about it… the things we do everyday make an impact. On ourselves, on each other, on the school, and on our future clients. Even through a worldwide pandemic we have set the bar pretty high. We have one more year to build that legacy together. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see the legacy this group of 32 has created by this time next year.”

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