WSU Applebaum Graduate Spotlight: Alexa Hongisto, Master of Occupational Therapy Class of 2023

Alexa Hongisto, MOT '23
Alexa Hongisto, MOT '23

Described by friends as determined, positive, kind, dedicated and fun, Clawson native Alexa Hongisto is looking forward to graduating from the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Master of Occupational Therapy program on Dec. 16, 2023. We checked in with her ahead of Commencement.

What brought you to Wayne State University?

Although I was accepted to Wayne State for undergrad, I chose to attend MSU to earn my kinesiology degree with a minor in health promotion. Although I am forever grateful for my time as a Spartan, part of my heart always remained in Detroit, where I had made so many memories.

From Tigers, Lions and Red Wings games to Broadway musicals, concerts and nights that ended with countless rides on the People Mover, I loved the fierceness of this city and its people — the dreamers, artists, adventurers and doers of Detroit that create and define our strong, beautiful community. I have always admired the resilient, ambitious, passionate Wayne State graduates I have met throughout my life.

Alexa Hongisto at Tigers game with cohort
Hongisto (front left) enjoys a Detroit Tigers game with members of her MOT Class of 2023 cohort.

How did you choose your field of study?

In occupational therapy, we truly look at people as a whole — both their body and mind — to determine what’s most important for them in order to improve their quality of life.

Helping care for my Baba with dementia gave me firsthand experience with the role of occupational therapists. By providing modifications and adaptations to her environment and activities, we were able to restore her independence in certain aspects of her life. Being able to give my Baba the care, grace and dignity she deserved is what I hope to share with future patients and their families.

Alexa Hongisto at College Research Day
Hongisto (second from left) with fellow investigators during WSU Applebaum's College Research Day 2022.

Tell us about a community engagement experience you had at WSU Applebaum.

My cohort has adopted families each holiday season and we've all contributed gifts on each family's wish list. Seeing the spirit, joy and gratitude these families had — especially the children — when we delivered their presents was an unforgettable experience and one I plan to participate in for years to come.

holiday giving
Hongisto (third from left) with her cohort's holiday giving team.

How would you describe your program to a prospective student?

The Master of Occupational Therapy program’s incredible faculty and staff engrain remarkable and sensational attributes in students. The professors teach not only from the books but also share real-world knowledge to prepare students for passing the board exam and for all it takes to become an extraordinary OT. This program is made up of a diverse network of professors who all have different experiences to share, giving students an up-close look into the ever-changing field of occupational therapy. And of course there’s the opportunity to be involved in the city of Detroit, where we can give back to a community that has given of itself to so many others.

Hongisto family
The Hongisto family: Dylan, Harry and Alexa

What’s next for you?

The truth is, I am unsure of which population I’d like to work with and in what setting, but the one thing I do know is that I am willing and eager to expand my knowledge in many areas. Although I currently do not know where this road will lead me, my goal is to remain openminded, humble and to spread kindness wherever I may be.

An occupational therapist helps patients engage in everyday activities that are important to them, using a variety of productive and creative activities. The WSU Applebaum Master of Occupational Therapy program application cycle runs from Aug. 1-Nov. 1, with classes starting the following May. Learn more by attending a college information meeting, held for prospective students at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month.

OT Class of 23
Hongisto (third from left) with fellow MOT '23 grads.

An anchor in urban health care

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 24,000 students.

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