As an undergraduate majoring in biology, Wesley Sanon knew he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. So, during his senior year at SUNY Albany, he worked at Living Resources, a nonprofit that provides services for young teens with autism spectrum disorders.
By chance, he was able to observe occupational therapists (OTs) working with the teens to help enhance functionality and independence. He was immediately intrigued. “I’d never seen OTs at work before,” said Sanon. “The kids were so engaged with their therapists. Everyone was having fun and accomplishing goals. I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
The Rockland resident looked for an OT graduate program close to home, and Mercy’s weekend program leading to a master’s degree in OT was, in his words, “the perfect choice.”
Sanon embarked on the first of two required internships with the Afya Foundation, a nonprofit that rescues surplus medical supplies, equipment, and humanitarian goods and delivers them to underserved health systems around the world. During that 12-week internship he wrote a moving blog post about what it was like to discover his calling as an occupational therapist.
“Seeing high school volunteers willing to give up four hours of their day in the summer to help other people they will never meet is so inspiring,” he wrote. “They give me hope for the future of our country.”
Sanon recently began his second internship at Workman’s Circle Multi-Care Center in the Bronx, while continuing to work part time with the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities.
When he graduates in May 2021, Sanon believes that his new profession will continue to show him new ways to “make people’s lives better.” He gives credit to his Mercy professors and advisors who, he said, “…did an amazing job. They gave me confidence that I could grasp difficult concepts, even if I had to struggle at first.”
He continued, “I hope more people understand and appreciate the importance of occupational therapy, which is underrepresented in the national spotlight.” For the sense of purpose that now guides his life and work, Sanon counts his Mercy education among the chief contributing factors.