Occupational therapy student overcomes family challenges to reach graduation

Four years ago, Isaac Herskovits moved his family from New Jersey to Denver to attend Colorado State University’s nationally ranked Occupational Therapy Isaac HerskovitsProgram.

“I feel honored and privileged to be a part of it,” Herskovits said.

Family comes first

Herskovits had a successful two years in the program. However, he had a difficult challenge when his wife delivered a premature baby. The little girl spent three months in the NICU, leaving Herskovits dealing with fluctuating emotions and worrying about his daughter. Inevitably, he missed class and neglected assignments and projects.

Herskovits missed two weeks of classes when his wife was hospitalized before her delivery. “Thankfully, winter break gave me five weeks of dedicated family time,” he said. I returned to commuting to campus at the start of spring semester, while my daughter was still in the NICU, and she discharged February 25, more than a month later.”

Isaac with his wife, daughter and two sons at graduationThe Department of Occupational Therapy gave Herskovits the support he needed during this intense time. “I kept in close contact with my professors through e-mail, and they encouraged me to put schoolwork on the side and focus on my family,” said Herskovits, who is the father of three children.

The extensions and modifications that his professors made for his assignments during that time enabled Herskovits to make the most of a difficult situation.

Herskovits added that his classmates, and the entire department, were extremely supportive. Other students offered their assistance whenever he needed help.

“I felt like the OT department became my second family,” said Herskovits. “They were completely behind me with an unconditional display of care and compassion through those three months, and I felt so fortunate and grateful toward them.”

Helping children reach their true potential

The wonderful community and closer relationships that Herskovits established throughout his time in the Department of Occupational Therapy will be hard for him to leave behind. He will also miss the CSU Oval.

“The Oval provided the perfect environment to take a break from my studies and enjoy the plush, green grass, subtle breeze, and shade from the towering elms,” said Herskovits.

After graduation, Herskovits plans to work with children with autism. He will focus on using the Floortime approach, an evidence-based treatment for people with autism and other development disabilities, to maximize their engagement and relationships with people.

“I have experience using this approach with my own child,” said Herskovits, “and I am passionate to spread it to other children and help each child reach his or her true potential.”

Learn more about The Department of Occupational Therapy, a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.