• Kalamazoo SOTA Walk to End Alzheimer's

  • COTAD Students At Take a Study Break Event

  • Snacks With GR SOTA at Downtown Market

  • Grand Rapids COTAD Students at Traveling While Black Event

Student Organizations



Student Occupational Therapy Association

The Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) is offered at both campuses, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, with every occupational therapy student encouraged to join their corresponding association by attending one meeting per month. Joining SOTA has many benefits for students and surrounding communities. Benefits to joining include, but are not limited to: 

  • Build leadership skills in the field of OT
  • Make connections with other students, faculty, and local organizations
  • Give back to the community through volunteer opportunities 
  • Learn to advocate for our profession
  • Apply skills learned in classes to use in a safe learning environment
  • Gain knowledge by attending guest presentations
  • Participate in fun social events with your fellow SOTA members! 
  • Events

    Previous volunteer events:

    • Walk to End Alzheimer's: fundraising and 5k walk 
    • Fowling to Keep em' Rolling: Fundraising and Raffle Selling for Renew Mobility's Pediatric Clients 
    • AMBUC's Football Games: Assisting with seating at WMU football games for AMBUC's members
    • Senior Neighbors: Rapport building and games with older adults in Kent County
    • Beer City Dog Biscuits: Work alongside adults with disabilities to make dog treats
    • Guest speakers: Meeting with Grand Rapids Pride Center to discuss LGBTQIA+ challenges with health care
    • More to come!
  • Kalamazoo SOTA Board

    President: Riley Groves

    Hello! My name is Riley Groves and am in the 2025 OTD cohort! I am humbled to be the current President of Student Occupational Therapy Association at Western Michigan University. I attended Davenport University and got my Bachelor of Science in Medical Case Management. Throughout my four years at Davenport, I was a student-athlete on the volleyball team. This is my second year in the OTD program at WMU and am excited to continue enhancing my knowledge of occupational therapy within the university and community! Western Michigan feels like home and am very grateful to have created such lifelong friendships during my time here so far. My current areas of interest to pursue within the scope of OT are working with adults with neurological and orthopedic conditions, hand therapy, and inpatient rehabilitation working with children/adolescents. I am in my first level 1 fieldwork rotation at the adult neuro and ortho clinic at the Unified Clinics and am loving it! Outside of school, I love to workout, attend concerts, go to sports events, go shopping, and hangout with friends and family! I am extremely grateful to be on SOTA E-board as President and advocate for this awesome profession with my fellow classmates.

    Vice President: Amber Foster

    Hello, my name is Amber and I am part of the 2025 OTD cohort. I graduated from U of M with my bachelor’s degree in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience and a minor in Spanish. I chose OT because after my experience going through physical therapy, I saw how life changing rehabilitative services could be and loved the creativeness that the OT world offered. I am a huge Harry Potter fan (proud Slytherin!) but some of my other hobbies include playing the piano and ukulele, camping, playing with my 2 dogs, longboarding, and hammocking with a good book. This year, I hope to continue to bring our student OT community closer through SOTA and cannot wait to meet everyone at our events!

    Treasurer: Madi Smith

    Hello! My name is Madi Smith and I am part of the OTD class of 2025. I will be the treasurer for SOTA this school year and am looking forward to working alongside the e-board to create new experiences and opportunities for OT students. I'm interested in hand therapy, adult neuro, and working with older adults. In my free time, I love to travel, attend concerts, cook, and go hiking and camping. I am excited to continue to build relationships with OT students, and to create connections within our community!

    WSA Representative: Paris Cerny

    My name is Paris Cerny and I am a Junior in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program. I fell in love with Western in high school when I attended their annual music seminar. I instantly fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere. Occupational Therapy is truly unique as it takes a holistic and creative approach to healthcare. There is no more fulfilling feeling than helping people achieve their goals and get back to the things that are most important to them. I have shadowed in a hand therapy clinic and work hardening setting and have taken a high interest to both of them but am excited to learn more about all of the other many areas of OT. Outside of work and school, I love being outside whether that is hiking or camping and am an avid puzzler.

    Secretary: Hannah Sherman

    Hello! My name is Hannah Sherman and I am excited to be the secretary for the Kalamazoo Student Occupational Therapy Association at Western Michigan University for the 2023-2024 school year! I am in my second year of the program as a part of the OTD class of 2025. I attended Central Michigan University and received my Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Throughout my 4 years there I spent a lot of my time outside of school volunteering in the community working with a wide variety of disabled populations. These experiences solidified my decision to want to become an occupational therapist. My current OT areas of interest are outpatient orthopedic/neurological rehabilitation and inpatient pediatrics. I have been working with kids since I was in high school and have always loved how much fun kids can be! In my free time I love going to concerts, reading, going on walks, listening to music, shopping, traveling new places, and spending time with my friends and family. I also spent 13 years of my life doing competitive dance and I student taught dance classes, which is where I found my love for working with kids. I am looking forward to sharing my love and passion for OT with new and returning members of SOTA this year!

    Social Media Coordinator: Richard Townsend

    My name is Richard Townsend, I am serving as the social media coordinator for the 2023-2024 SOTA E-board.  I’m from Indianapolis, IN and received my B.S. in Exercise Science from Ball State University.  I love exercising, being outdoors, and hanging out w/ friends and family.  Within OT I have a current interest in working in orthopedics, with the geriatric population, & potentially the deaf community.  I love how OT encompasses a holistic view of treatment & looks at the whole person.  I’m excited to continue to learn and grow alongside my peers and see where the year takes us.

    Volunteer Coordinator: Jillian French

    My name is Jillian French and I am from Lisle, Illinois. I am very excited to be the volunteer coordinator for SOTA for this coming year! I chose Western Michigan University for all of the fieldwork opportunities as well as the opportunity to perform research. I was also impressed by the interview process and knew that after meeting several faculty members that WMU was the school for me. As an OT, you are able to give meaning back into people's lives and I am grateful that I get to be a part of that. I am very interested in hand therapy or working at an SNF.

  • Grand Rapids SOTA Board

    President: Isabel Evola

    • Undergraduate School and Major: Michigan State University, Major in Kinesiology with a Minor in Health Promotion
    • Favorite Occupations: Baking, Outdoor Activities, Travelling 
    • What are you excited for with SOTA? To build a sense of community among our cohorts and become an advocate for those who need support with engaging in their meaningful occupations!
    • Current Areas of OT Interest: Pediatrics and Mental Health

    Vice President: Josephine Sanders 

    • Undergraduate School and Major: Psychology, Ferris State University
    • Favorite Occupations: Reading, weight lifting, & listening to music
    • What are you excited for with SOTA? Getting more involved within the program as well as the community!
    • Current Areas of OT Interest: Peds and neuro

    Event Coordinator: Brooke Hineman

    • Undergraduate School and Major: Oakland University - B.S. in Exercise Science
    • Favorite Occupations: Reading, going to the gym, hanging with friends and family, hiking, and traveling!
    • What are you excited for with SOTA? I am excited to continue and grow our involvement in the community while creating lasting connections.
    • Current Areas of OT Interest: Pediatrics and inpatient rehab

    Secretary: Sasha Poland

    • Undergraduate School and Major: Hope College with a Psychology major
    • Favorite Occupations: I love reading, doing crossword puzzles and exploring different coffee shops. I also enjoy weightlifting and going on long walks with friends.
    • What are you excited for with SOTA? I am super excited about forming more meaningful relationships with the communities we serve and making a difference in the occupational wellbeing of others. I also am looking forward to getting closer to my peers and staff here at WMU.
    • Current Areas of OT Interest: Neuro, inpatient rehab, and mental health!

    Treasurer: Alexia Spyrka

    • Undergraduate School and Major: Recreational Therapy at Grand Valley State University
    • Favorite Occupations: My favorite occupations include spending time with family and friends, playing pickleball, and cooking.
    • What are you excited for with SOTA? To make more connections with my peers and community members through our meaningful events.
    • Current Areas of OT Interest: Pediatrics, acute care, and feeding

    Public Relations & ASD: Emma Campbell

    • Undergraduate School and Major: I graduated from Grand Valley State University (2023) with a Major in Exercise Science and a minor in Psychology.
    • Favorite Occupations: Spending time with my friends and family, painting, and any outdoor activities.
    • What are you excited for with SOTA? I am excited to help promote community cohesion and grow closer with my peers in my program as we participate in meaningful events together.  
    • Current Areas of OT Interest: Pediatrics and neuro are the front runners right now but I am loving everything so that could change!


Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity

The Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) is an organization that focuses on promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within the occupational therapy (OT) profession. COTAD aims to address issues related to underrepresentation, cultural competence, and inclusivity in occupational therapy education and practice. Members of COTAD include practitioners, students, and educators who work collaboratively to create positive changes and advocate for diversity within the OT workforce. Benefits to joining include, but are not limited to:

  • Diverse experiences
  • Community engagement opportunities
  • Advocacy and empowerment
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Personal growth
  • Events

    Previous Events:

    • Traveling While Black documentary- immersive VR experience
    • Adaptive Floor Hockey with MSU students
    • ADL's Around the World: guest speakers from diverse backgrounds who shared information related to cultural differences in ADL practices (grooming, hygiene, dressing, and feeding).
    • Working With Interpreters
    • Guest speakers from Pride Center talking about their experiences with healthcare providers.
    • Virtual Event: Solidarity & Solutions: Moving OT Education & Practice Forward
    • WMU Take a Break
    • Virtual Event: Anti-Oppression & OT

    Future Events:

    • ADLs Around the World
    • Gender Affirming Guest Speaker
    • More to come!
  • Grand Rapids COTAD Board

    Co-Director: Moriah Holloway

    Hello! I am Moriah Holloway, a second-year student at Western Michigan University's OTD program at the Grand Rapids campus. Joining COTAD has been a transformative experience for me, providing a platform to engage with diverse perspectives and share invaluable experiences with fellow members. Through COTAD, I have developed a deeper appreciation for my own and other cultures and its impact on the healthcare field. I eagerly look forward to integrating the insights gained from COTAD into my future professional endeavors, aiming to contribute meaningfully to a more inclusive and culturally aware healthcare environment.

    Co-Director: Nabilah Salwa

    Hello! I am Nabilah Salwa, currently in my second year of the OTD program at the Grand Rapids campus. I feel privileged to be part of an organization dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion within the OT workforce. I joined COTAD recognizing the essential need for diversity and cultural humility in our field. As professionals who will engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds, it is crucial that we understand and embrace differences to provide respectful and inclusive care for our clients. My current interests within OT encompass pediatrics, hand therapy, and school-based settings. Beyond academic pursuits, I find joy in spending time with friends and family, indulging in cooking, exploring new destinations, and watching movies! I am excited to be a part of this organization and look forward to the future events COTAD will be having!

    Faculty Advisor: Azalia Gonzalez

    Hi! I’m Dr. Gonzalez and I’m a faculty member/advisor for the COTAD group. Throughout my career, I’ve had a passion for working with marginalized communities and under represented groups. Some previous personal involvements include volunteering at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, serving as president of a student organization group called Active Minds, and recently partnering with Help Pregnancy Aid in Grand Rapids to educate low income minority families about pelvic health. I now have the privilege to serve as an advisor to a group of brilliant and passionate students who share the same vision surrounding promoting inclusivity and diverse representation within the OT workforce. A random fact about me is that while math/numbers has never been my forté, I enjoy learning about finance, investing, and increasing my financial literacy.

  • Kalamazoo COTAD Board

    Co-Chair: Richard Townsend

    My name is Richard Townsend, I am a second year OTD student in the Kalamazoo cohort. I am currently a Graduate Assistant and serve as the social media coordinator for the Student Occupational Therapy Association. I personally love exercising, being in nature, riding my bike, listening/creating music, and hanging out with friends and family. One fun fact about me is that I know American Sign Language. I joined COTAD because I feel it is imperative to share the importance of diversity within the field of Occupational Therapy. We as aspiring clinicians will be working with a multitude of people from varying walks of life and staying culturally informed can make all the difference.


    Co-Chair: Dalla Wong

    Hi, my name is Dalla Wong and I’m an OTD student in my second year at the Kalamazoo campus. A little bit about me: I love the color green, tennis and traveling. Also hiking to see the stars or city lights, looking for tidepools at the beach and enjoying the sunshine outdoors! Perspectives that include equity, anti-racism and anti-oppression play a vital role especially in the academic and workplace setting. Joining COTAD has given me opportunities to examine my own biases while practicing and promoting anti-discrimination in our profession. This allows us to better understand and meet the unique needs of a wide range of individuals as future practitioners. I’m so excited for the positive impact we're going to make, ensuring all are valued regardless of identity, abilities or background!


    Co-Director: Jade Nguyen

    Hi! My name is Jade Nguyen, and I am a 2nd OTD student at Western Michigan University Kalamazoo cohort. During my free time, I love engaging in outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, camping, and playing sports like tennis and badminton. Currently, as a Graduate Assistant, I research the unmet needs of individuals from diverse backgrounds, gaining insights into the importance of addressing specific needs. This led me to join the COTAD leadership board to advocate for and empower OT students, fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. My goal is to enhance empathy and competence in their practice, contributing to a more inclusive future in occupational therapy.


    Co-Director: Charles Hanks

    Hello! My name is Charles Hanks, I am a second year OTD student in Western Michigan University (WMU) Kalamazoo cohort. Some interesting facts about me are: I am a non-traditional student. I graduated from WMU in 2014 with an Exercise Science degree. Recently, I made the decision to return to WMU and complete my Graduate degree. In addition to being a student, I also work full-time as a health mentor with Integrated Service of Kalamazoo. I enjoy promoting health and wellness to all persons and populations, and empowering individuals to be the best version of themselves through exercise. I look forward to carrying this very passion into the field of occupational therapy, providing a unique service to individuals in need. Joining COTAD has given me the opportunity to join and contribute to a growing organization that advocates for diversity and inclusion in a profession where minorities are underrepresented. My goal is to advocate for more diversity in this profession, while growing as a practitioner of OT.