Sarah Ahmed


I am a Chicago native and the youngest of three daughters. Being raised within the outskirts of Chicago, I am a natural urbanite and am a dedicated Chicago Bulls fan. Throughout my life, I have had a passion for volunteering and animal activism. For a great part of my childhood, my career goal consisted of going into veterinary medicine. However, after being an avid volunteer coordinator for a non-profit cat rescue organization based in the Northwest suburbs for the past four years, I decided to keep my love for animals alive through assisting in rescue but broaden my exploration of career trajectories in the helping professions.

I am currently in my third year of undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Chicago as a Kinesiology major, with an exercise science and health promotion concentration and psychology minor. This past summer, I started working at a therapeutic recreation center, where I work with children with physical and intellectual disabilities such as Autism and ADD as they work towards developing new skills through recreation. I have also been shadowing an occupational therapist at a private pediatric therapy clinic and volunteering in a hospital setting to round out my exposure to pediatric occupational therapy as a health profession. These experiences have increased my interest in pursuing a career in occupational therapy.

I am excited to spend my next two semesters as part of the CPERL team. I will be completing experiential learning coursework towards my major degree requirements, with support from a Chancellors Undergraduate Research Award. I feel that I will benefit from this experience because I will be able to begin learning what occupational therapy research looks like prior to pursuing graduate study in occupational therapy.  Since I do not have background in research,  I am looking forward to being exposed to how an occupational therapist conducts research, and how this team builds assessment tools that could be used in the settings where I have or am working in now. I will be helping the team analyze information from parent interviews that were conducted to understand common ways that parents built on their assessment of their child to take a more active part in planning the services that their child receives.