Photo of Amanda Cyr

Amanda Cyr, Class of 2020

What got you interested in occupational therapy?

My journey to OT was definitely a detour, but if I had to pinpoint one thing it would likely be working at Easter Seals Camp Merrywood, which is a camp for youth who are differently abled. At this camp we had a saying: “We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” This really resonated with me. It sparked my passion for recognizing individuals’ strengths, and creatively bridging the gap between where they are currently, and where they want to be regarding achieving their hopes, dreams, and goals. OT was the exact profession that would allow me to do this!

What will you remember most about your time in the program?

While the quality of education, onsite facilities, and fieldwork placements were incredible, what I will remember the most about my two years at U of T is the people. It was an honour and a privilege to be surrounded by such a supportive, likeminded, and empathic group of students, as well as by dedicated faculty who truly went the extra mile to facilitate our learning. The people are truly what made this program unforgettable, and I am so grateful for my cohort everyday.

What are your areas of interest?

My passion lies in mental health, particularly among youth who are, or at-risk of becoming, homeless. Canada has made huge strides in mental health over the last few years, but we have a long way to go. I have recently secured a full-time permanent position at Covenant House Toronto. In this role, I find it extremely rewarding being able to help at-risk youth reach their goals as an OT, and help them thrive in a system that has historically let them slip through the cracks. We have a long way to go regarding making long-term sustainable change, but we can make a difference one step at a time!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I am hopeful and enthusiastic about eventually stepping into a formal leadership role where I am able to effect long-term sustainable change for at-risk youth who have lived experience with mental health challenges. While I am loving my day-to-day work as an OT, there is huge potential for revolutionizing how we structure and deliver mental health services for homeless youth. I would love to be able to take my passion for advocacy to the next level, and eventually implement change from a management position!

What advice do you have for incoming students?

My greatest advice for incoming students is don’t be afraid to get creative, try an area of OT practice you never thought of before, or step into a “non-traditional” OT role. Before I started the program I had my sights set on working in a traditional rehab physical medicine setting, and it was only through being open-minded and trying “role emerging” areas of OT practice that I fell in love with working with homeless youth, and eventually landed my current role. OT has an incredibly broad scope – don’t let it intimidate you! There is a perfect fit and area of practice for all of us, we just have to be creative and open-minded when discovering it sometimes!