SOTA, or Student Occupational Therapy Association, is a staple of OT school. If your school is like mine, SOTA is the only ‘club’ or organization on campus to get involved in, and it’s a great way to connect with fellow students, professors and community groups and organizations.
SOTA actually plays a role in AOTA’s governance (through the Assembly of Student Delegates representative), so it’s way more than just a club! I always suggest getting involved with SOTA, you never know when you will need to advocate for OT and being in a position that directly serves under AOTA is a great way to get involved with the profession.
SO, my experience with SOTA and SOTA board:
I was a SOTA member for all of OT school (my school automatically does this), and I was a member of the board for 2 of the 4 semesters I spent on campus (there weren’t any positions I wanted during my first eligible semester). My 3rd semester I was the community service chair, and during my 4th semester I was the president. During my time with SOTA, I really discovered my desire to be in a leadership position- probably because I’m a control freak and there were many aspects of SOTA that I felt could be improved upon… Either way, SOTA opened up a whole world of opportunity for me and I was able to develop and improve many skills that are required to be a leader.
Community Service Chair
During my first semester of being on SOTA board, I was the Community Service Chair. Here is what the SOTA Handbook says about the duties of the community service chair:
During this semester, I worked really hard to make new connections with community organizations because I felt that the students wanted more variety in their volunteering opportunities. This was definitely one of the most rewarding semesters I had! I reached out to countless organizations and therapists in the community and made personal connections with each and every one of them. Inevitably, I also ended up volunteering with many of the organizations and had such amazing experiences with them all. Many of the organizations I reached out to were not directly therapy-related organizations, so this also gave me an opportunity to advocate for occupational therapy by teaching the organization directors about what we do.
A few of the organizations I collaborated with included: The ALS Association, a camp for children with visual impairments, a local hippotherapy practice, a local hospice, a local adaptive sports organization, Surfers for Autism, Walk MS, a resource fair for local families with children who have disabilities, and I headed a beach cleanup along with the PT community service chair.
I have always believed in the importance of service and community involvement, and serving as community service chair gave me a great opportunity to work side-by-side with my fellow classmates and with community members.
I was the president during my 4th semester on campus (aka the hardest on campus semester lol). While it was most definitely difficult, by spending a lot of time before the semester started getting organized and establishing goals for SOTA, it made my time during the semester as the president very easy to manage. Here is what the SOTA Handbook says about the president’s roles:
My goal as the SOTA president was to establish firm goals for SOTA as a whole, increase avenues of communication with SOTA members, collaborate with the PT Student Association, and to completely remake the organizational flow of SOTA as a whole. Where my first semester on SOTA board was spent with each board member doing their own thing and hoping it worked out in the end, I established clear communication with and between each board member and held board meetings before the semester and during each month with open communication via GroupMe 24/7. This gave each board member an opportunity to share their own ideas and collaborate with each other to make sure that the semester went off without a hitch.
And I don’t wanna brag or anything buuttt it was a really great semester for SOTA haha. We had a great group as the board who all got along, collaborated well, and were passionate about spreading OT love. I even ended up planning an OT/PT social for the end of the term (it wasn’t supposed to be my job, but ya know, sometimes things happen) and it went so great with well over 100 OT and PT students in attendance.
I really loved my time on SOTA board, I grew so much in both of the positions I held and it instilled in me confidence I didn’t know I had. I developed leadership skills, public speaking abilities, communication skills and how to maintain good public relations. It also helped me realize that I thrive when I am in a leadership position and I really enjoy being involved with communities and organizations, something I NEVER did in undergrad.
So join SOTA! You may surprise yourself and discover a leader that was hiding in you all along!