University Park, IL,
14:40 PM

Alumnus receives Occupational Therapy Student Award

Suraj Patnaik named Illinois Occupational Therapy Association Student of the Year

Professional headshot of a smiling man

A 2023 Governors State University (GovState) Master of Occupational Therapy graduate, Suraj Patnaik, recently received the Illinois Occupational Therapy Association (ILOTA) Outstanding Occupational Therapy Student Award, making him the first GovState student to receive this recognition.

The award recognizes an occupational therapy student who has demonstrated leadership and excellence in their academic or clinical performance and exemplified an exceptional ability to promote occupational therapy through their activities.

“It was amazing being the first student from Governors State University to receive the Outstanding Student Award,” he said. “I feel very grateful for the opportunities I had within GovState to learn more about Occupational Therapy and increase the visibility of the profession within the school and the local community.”

Looking forward, Suraj wants to work towards a career in neurorehabilitation, which involves working with individuals who have gone through traumatic brain injuries or strokes. “I would also like to increase diversity within the field so that we have more practitioners who can better represent the diverse populations that are served,” said Suraj.

Goals that he's well on his way to achieving after just passing his occupational therapy board exam.

To celebrate this accomplishment and his graduation this past August, Suraj's immediate plans include taking a few months to travel internationally. Though, he's not letting his future plans drift too far from his mind as he's actively working on getting licensed while looking for jobs.

As an alumnus, Suraj also reflected on his time at GovState. He's thankful to the university and faculty for providing a platform for him to develop and strengthen his leadership skills, which he hopes to pay that forward as he advances in his journey.

“I learned so much during my time in school, and now I would like to continue to spread awareness about Occupational Therapy and its significant impact on helping people do the things they need and want to do every day,” said Suraj.

“Everyone deserves to have the opportunity to participate in life in meaningful ways, and occupational therapy is a career that helps people do just that!”

Congratulations, Suraj!