Marisa OlsonContact Email:
In October, University of the Sciences welcomed its first Fulbright Scholar to campus – Dr. Linda Wilson. Since her arrival four weeks ago, the University has been Dr. Wilson’s home away from home and a significant resource for her research, teaching, and learning.
Dr. Wilson hails from Dunedin, New Zealand, where she is a principal lecturer of the School of Occupational Therapy at Otago Polytechnic. In August 2009, she became the country’s first occupational therapist to receive a Fulbright scholarship and the prestigious award afforded her the opportunity to take a sabbatical of three months in the United States to further her studies. While in the U.S., Dr. Wilson divided her time between University of the Sciences and the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
As the former head and founder of the School of OT at Otago Polytechnic, Dr. Wilson knew exactly what she was looking for in a host university. After reading about the courses and faculty on the University’s Department of Occupational Therapy web pages, and exchanging emails with Department Chair Dr. Paula Kramer, Dr. Wilson was confident that she’d found her perfect fit.
“University of the Sciences met all of the criteria I was looking for, primarily that it is an occupational therapy school with an occupational heart,” explained Dr. Wilson. “Many schools have other focuses, but not many schools have such a grounding in occupation, which is the core of OT. I went through all the schools in Philadelphia and this was the one that felt right.”
While at the University, Dr. Wilson attended classes and faculty meetings, assisted in teaching courses, accompanied OT students off-site to work with children, and met with faculty members one-on-one. It was her insightful discussions with faculty that affirmed her current research efforts and “made the whole trip worthwhile.” Dr. Wilson’s research involves developing a framework for understanding and categorizing the vast number of occupations that human beings do every day – from brushing their teeth, to buying a gift, to emptying the trash.
“I’m confident now that people are saying “Yes, your research applies in the U.S. as well, we can use this in teaching, and you should publish it,”” said Dr. Wilson. “In fact, (assistant professor of Occupational Therapy )Pam Kearney has offered to be my U.S. link for the model testing I’m doing around this research and Dr. Kramer and I have ideas for future research together. It’s been very exciting.”
Dr. Wilson’s visit to campus greatly contributed to the next steps in her research goals, but her spirit and knowledge left a lasting positive impact on the OT faculty, as well.
“It was an absolute delight to have Linda join us for a month,” said Dr. Kramer. “When we agreed to have her come, we had no idea what to expect, but she is such a treasure. Her presentations were amazing and gave us so much to think about.”
Driven by the enthusiasm and support of the faculty, Dr. Wilson hopes to have her research submitted to a journal by the end of February 2010. Her next move is a trip to Canada, where she’ll visit another university before flying home to begin another academic year.
“My time here has been both incredibly valuable and pleasurable,” said Dr. Wilson. “I’m going home with ideas for new courses and an expanded knowledge of the history of OT, cultural competence, and cultural safety. I think Dr. Kramer and I could argue about who benefitted more from me being here, me or the Department, but collectively, we’re so well matched, and we’ll absolutely stay in touch.”