our students

Oscar Martinez

Occupational therapy students Karen and Oscar Martinez.

Occupational therapy students Karen and Oscar Martinez.

Oscar Martinez hopes his future career will focus on neuro-rehabilitation and helping people recover from traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Interestingly, he might not have been looking in that direction if not for the advice of his sister, Karen Martinez, a fellow UB student also profiled.

Why did you choose occupational therapy as a discipline?

I originally was an adolescent education major. I found myself not being satisfied with my major and changed from education to psychology, but was still not satisfied with my decision.  

I remember being on the phone with Karen one day, and I asked her, “What is occupational therapy?” She gave me her elevator definition and continued to tell me about all of the settings and environments that occupational therapists can work in.

After that day, I decided to do my own research. I realized that occupational therapy had a lot of fundamentals of teaching and psychology through therapeutic use of self; but also, it provided the opportunity to directly help people, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to find a major or career path that was meaningful, and I believe that this is what I did. So, ever since that day, I was set on transferring schools and becoming an OT major.

Why UB?

Once I began to do my research on occupational therapy, I found myself extremely interested in coming to UB. It was an in-state school that offered the program, which made it one of my top choices. I was also excited that many of the credits I had taken would transfer over and count towards my occupational therapy prerequisites, which gave me the likelihood of staying on track. … After my first semester, I received a 4.0 and immediately applied to UB over winter break. In March 2018, I received a phone call from my mom telling me that I had gotten accepted into the school. She was very excited, as she knew that Karen and I would be close to each other, and she would not have to visit us separately! As soon as I received my letter, I took the steps to finish my acceptance, and the rest is history.

How has your experience of the discipline evolved at UB?

I have learned to become a better student in many aspects. Also gross anatomy [was]…an experience of a lifetime that really put a lot of things into perspective for me. Learning about the body through donor cadavers gave me a strong foundation and an overall appreciation for occupational therapy. Since then everything has built upon each other. Over the past two and a half years I have learned a lot about occupational therapy and am more satisfied than ever with my decision to choose the discipline.

What is your favorite part of your program?

One of my favorite parts about being in the program is the friendships and bonds I have formed with my classmates. We all look to help each other where we can by studying together, working on projects together and socializing.

Another thing I have enjoyed about being in this program is being able to learn through an extremely dedicated staff that always looks to put us first. Our professors, advisors and program directors are always considering our needs in order to insure we have the adequate resources and potential to do great. Even during these hard times of distance learning, I appreciate their efforts. The overall academic experience in the program is a rewarding one. It can sometimes be very challenging and time-consuming, but the best feeling is knowing you pushed yourself to accomplish what you needed to.

What advice would you give a student considering occupational therapy?

To have confidence in themselves and their knowledge. If this is something they seriously want to pursue, they should take their studies, classes and experiences seriously as it will all build upon each other. The things we learn are not only for our own knowledge, but you've got to look at it as literal information that we will use to help our future clients. Sometimes things can become overwhelming, but you have to remind yourself of why you’re here, if it’s because you want to be able to help those in need, then remind yourself of that and use it as motivation. Most importantly, always make time for yourself. Never forget to put yourself first, as sometimes things can get very overwhelming. Time management is a key in being successful in any program you’re in; with time management, always remember to make time for you.

What's next for you?

Level II Fieldwork a year from now. I’m excited about learning hands-on and having the opportunity to directly help individuals. A year after that, I look forward to graduating, passing my NBCOT and becoming a registered occupational therapist. I’m particularly interested in neuro-rehabilitation and helping individuals across the lifespan recover from traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. I’m also interested in pursuing my doctoral occupational therapy degree after I graduate from UB.  

And, finally...

There have been a lot of people along my academic journey that have been there for me. Karen has been one of my biggest supporters and mentors throughout this entire process, always offering advice that has helped me make important decisions.

My mother has also been one of my biggest supporters, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her sacrifices and hard work. Both of these strong and independent women in my life have molded me into the person I am today, and motivate me to reach all of my goals.