ACC-Orange County' Third OTA Cohort Celebrates Move Into Clinical Fieldwork


Nearly a decade after suffering a spinal injury, Walter Escamilla still thanks his occupational therapy team as much possible.

“What they’re doing with their career, their profession, it touches so many lives. It touched my life,” Escamilla said as the keynote speaker for American Career College - Orange County's occupational therapy assistant pinning ceremony. “I was injured almost 10 years ago due to a car accident and I still visit with my occupational therapist because he changed my life.”

After completing the program's classroom portion, the 37 OTA students will now spend the next 16 weeks at clinical sites doing fieldwork directly with an occupational therapist or registered occupational therapy assistant.

OTA Assistant Program Director Jeni Dulek said the cohort really bonded during their time together in class and used those relationships to further their learning, manage their own stress levels and get through the program. Dulek said that making the transition from student to student-practitioner isn’t easy, but OT is really about helping people recover and get back to the lives that they want to live.

“There are going to be hard days and sometimes it feels like you're doing little things that don't make a huge difference but, ultimately, they really do,” Dulek said. “It's really important for students to take what they have learned, but also to be who they are and put their heart into their relationships with their clients and everything they do, to help those clients on a path to recovery.”

Depressed and angry after breaking his back, Escamilla said the passion and determination of the OTAs and his occupational therapist helped him return to work and be more independent. He impressed on the OTA students that his very presence on campus was a tribute to occupational therapy he received, (considering he drove himself to the pinning ceremony).

“That’s the key word — independence — to give us our life back, to be able to do things on your own and that’s what OT does,” Escamilla said. “They help you get your independence back and I’m so grateful to the OTs that helped me.”

ACC cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary by campus. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student. For graduation rates, median debt of graduates completing this program and other important information, visit

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