Student Spotlight: Q&A with Ala Sarsour, Master of Occupational Therapy Class of 2022

We're getting to know students from every program at the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Submit your own details for Student Spotlight consideration by filling out our brief form.

Ala Sarsour
Master of Occupational Therapy student Ala Sarsour.

Q: What four words describe you?

A: Empathetic, considerate, patient, thoughtful.

Q: What are your hobbies? 

A: My hobbies include playing basketball and working out. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games with my brothers and close friends.

Q: Why did you choose Wayne State University?

A: I started at Wayne State as an undergraduate in the summer of 2015 through the APEX (Academic Pathways to Excellence) Scholars program. I viewed APEX Scholars as a second chance to prove that I am fit for a college degree, and used it as motivation to put all my effort into my studies to achieve my goal. With that, I chose Wayne State because of its diversity and the fact that it’s in Detroit. I view being around a diverse population as a learning opportunity to gain knowledge on religion, culture and ways of living.

Q: Why did you choose WSU Applebaum's Master of Occupational Therapy program

A: I originally chose occupational therapy because of how underrated of a field it is. OT captured my interest by providing therapy with a holistic approach that includes physical, mental and spiritual factors while being client-centered and working with them to regain and enhance participation in meaningful occupation. I hope in the future I will work in the field of pediatrics as an OT with children who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or children who are diagnosed with physical disabilities to aid them in gaining independence, while keeping the sessions fun as well as doing my best to be a positive role model in their lives.

Ala Sarsour at WSU graduation
Ala earned his WSU kinesiology degree in 2019.

Q: If you had 24 hours free from work and school obligations, what would you do?

A: I would spend my day with loved ones doing things such as attending sporting events or watching movies.

Q: Share a recent accomplishment that made you proud of yourself.

A: Completing my Level I fieldwork is something I am proud about because being able to be in the OT program has been a goal of mine for years, and completing the first set of fieldwork was rewarding. It showed me that I am making progress toward completing the program.

Q: What are your career aspirations?

A: I aspire to be an occupational therapist who clients look forward to seeing. My career aspirations are not only are being an OT but being the best OT I can be to enhance people’s lives and be a bright spot during their process of therapy.

Q: Do you have a story or anything else that you would like to share?

A: I am the fourth born of six, and the first to pursue a professional graduate degree. I was never necessarily a great student growing up, and was advised to look into working full-time after high school and not apply to colleges. I did apply to a few different schools, receiving rejection letters from all of them except Wayne State University. WSU offered me an interview for APEX Scholars, which is a summer bridge program for students like me who have potential but were not in an ideal environment to reach that potential. I ended up getting accepted for APEX Scholars and passed the summer program, which then transitioned me into my first year of college. Later on in my first semester at WSU, I discovered the kinesiology major and was able to learn what I could do with that degree. I learned more about occupational therapy through the WSU College of Education’s kinesiology program and did my research to discover that WSU Applebaum had an OT program.

Ala Sarsour and Jennifer Gavia at the AOTA Conference
This month, Ala traveled to Texas with fellow MOT student Jennifer Gavia for the AOTA Conference. See more photos!

After graduating from WSU in 2019, I applied to our Master of Occupational Therapy program and received an invitation for an interview; weeks later I was notified I was not selected into the program. I was initially upset but reminded myself that everything happens for a reason and decided I would re-apply the next year. I spent that year gaining knowledge about the OT field and working on my interviewing skills to prepare myself if I were to get another chance. The next application cycle, I was selected for an interview and felt a lot more comfortable answering questions about the field of OT and why I would be a good fit for the program. This time around, I was admitted into the program and am currently in my second year, expected to graduate this December. I do believe that certain opportunities will miss you if the timing and circumstances are not ideal, but I also believe that if you are dedicated to reach your goals and your intentions always stay pure, your opportunity will present itself when the timing is right.

OT students, faculty and staff spell out OT
Ala was among the students, faculty and staff showing their pride during April's OT Month.

An occupational therapist helps patients engage in everyday activities that are important to them, using a variety of productive and creative activities. The WSU Applebaum Master of Occupational Therapy program application cycle runs from Aug. 1-Nov. 1, with classes starting the following May. Learn more by attending a college information meeting, held for prospective students at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month.


An anchor in urban health care

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 25,000 students.

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