Katherina Oka, KRS Master’s Student

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Kat Oka
“Adjustment to a new disability can be a challenge, and I would like to help ease the process.”
Hometown:

Pearl City, Hawai‛i

Department:

Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science

Degree:

MS in KRS Student (Rehabiliation Counseling program)

How far along in the program are you?
This is my first year.

What drew you to the rehabilitation counseling program?
I have previously worked in special education, specifically in transition services. I have seen a need for students with disabilities to get additional support with career planning and vocational training. I would like to continue to assist them and help them create vocational plans that will aid in their journey toward adulthood. Also, working in the healthcare industry, I see the need to provide support for adults with disabilities. Adjustment to a new disability can be a challenge, and I would like to help ease the process.

Did the online format of the program factor into your decision? 
Yes. I enjoy the flexibility of the program, which enables me to continue to work and go to school. It also allows me to volunteer, so I can spend time teaching high school students again.

What is the significance of the Rehabilitation Services Administration Services (RSA) Scholarship to you/your education? 
I truly appreciate this scholarship because I do not need to worry about financing my education. This scholarship allows me to focus better on my education without worrying about how I will pay for my tuition.

How has attending professional conferences impacted your learning?
Attending the National Council on Rehabilitation Education (NCRE) Conference was a great opportunity to grow and learn about vocational rehabilitation. I was able to meet other students and professionals from across the country. I brought back tips on how to work better with future clients and learned about current trends that are happening in vocational rehabilitation counseling.

What does it mean for you to be a vocational rehabilitation counselor? 
I may be able to make a difference in someone’s life. I may not be able to reach all of the underserved population, but for those that I do, I hope to make a change for the better. I am also looking forward to working with youth with disabilities again to be able to make that impact early on in their lives. 

Which skills or experiences obtained through this program are the most important to you?  
I am learning more about helping people through stigmas and the psychosocial issues they encounter due to their disability.

How have the rehabilitation counseling program and faculty helped you along the way?  
The program is flexible enough where I can still have a personal life while I continue my education. The faculty is supportive and easy to talk to. My fellow cohort members have also been very supportive, even though some of them are across the ocean. I am glad that I have the opportunity to work with them. 

What advice would you give current or prospective students about this program? 
Communication is key. Make friends with your cohort. They will help you keep on track and keep you motivated.  Keep in touch with the professors. If you have something going on, they will be there to support you.