For Capilano University graduate Sarah Oosterom, an experience with a loved one’s illness sparked a passion for helping others.

Sarah Oosterom had always had a close connection with her grandmother, so when Jenny experienced a life altering stroke in 2006, Oosterom made sure she was there to support her through her rehabilitation therapy.

“The rehabilitation assistant who worked with my grandmother was very inspiring. I really liked her personal approach to such a sensitive situation, and how she supported my grandmother’s physical progression, as well as provided emotional support and hope for her future independence,” Oosterom says. “That experience really motivated me: I wanted to support people in finding the strength they sometimes feel is lost.”

Oosterom started at Capilano University in 2010 in the two-year Rehabilitation Assistant diploma program. During her time at CapU, she gained hands-on experience through three different work practicums that demonstrated the range of career possibilities within the field.

The program also provided the flexibility for her to delve deeper into specialized areas such as stroke rehabilitation and working with individuals with a variety of orthopedic injuries. As many of Oosterom’s instructors had done previous work in the field, they provided valuable insight into the realities of working in those areas. This experiential way of learning helped to reinforce that she was pursuing the right career.

“My expectation of what post-secondary education would be like was very different from the close community feeling I experienced at CapU,” says Oosterom. “Some of the friendships I made through this program became life-long, and going through the diploma program with the same cohort of students really enhanced my learning experience.”

Currently she is completing an undergraduate degree in Calgary, while working as a rehabilitation assistant in two different medical facilities. She has a career plan in mind that will allow her to be a continued support system for many people’s loved ones. “After graduating I’m looking forward to continuing my career in the adult rehabilitation field, as well as pursuing my interest in working with children with disabilities. Helping people regain independence and sense of self in a new way is very rewarding for me.”

Submitted by Sarah Coull, Communications & Marketing

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Learn more about the Rehabilitation Assistant program.

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