| 27 December 2016

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University of St. Augustine Student Selected to Ride on Occupational Therapy Association Centennial Float at the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade

The float will serve as a floral salute and kickoff to the year-long celebration of the 100 year history of occupational therapy as a profession

Students from each of the university’s campuses helped Master of Occupational Therapy student Harrison Phelps raise the most funds of any student group across the U.S., earning him one of the 12 coveted seats on this historic ride

San Marcos, CA—December 27, 2016 – Harrison Phelps, a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) student at University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS), a leading graduate institution that emphasizes rehabilitative and health science education through innovative classroom and distance education, was recently named one of the 12 riders of the 2017 Occupational Therapy Association Centennial Float. Sponsored by the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Board of Directors, the float will appear in the historic 128th Tournament of Roses® Parade in Pasadena, California on Monday, January 2, 2017.

The float serves as a floral salute and kick off to the year-long celebration of the 100 year history of occupational therapy. In addition, the event will also mark the 20th year of occupational therapy educational programs at USAHS, which was first established on the university’s St. Augustine, Florida, campus in 1997. In partnership with students across the university’s three campuses in California, Florida and Texas, Phelps, who is the president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) on the San Marcos campus, organized an array of fundraisers, which led to the university’s selection. He was named a rider based on his leadership at the university.

“As the SOTA President on the USAHS San Marcos Campus, Harrison has quickly established an advocacy and community-based culture for our OT students,” said Terri Roberts, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, CLT, assistant program director, Masters of Occupational Therapy, USAHS. “Harrison’s ability to collaborate and lead as we worked to raise funds for the OTAC float made him an excellent choice to represent USAHS, our students and the OT profession on this historic float.”

The float, titled “Celebrating A Century of Occupational Therapy,” will honor the notion of living by featuring an inspirational garden of life that represents growth, development, life, and living, the foundational concepts of the occupational therapy profession. One area will show a child on a swing to symbolize play, developmental milestones and the specialty practice area of sensory integration. The gazebo in the center of the float will have eight rotating panels that display the practice of occupational therapy, alternating contemporary and historical images. The Hull House, which is where one of the profession’s founders, Eleanor Clarke Slagle, taught the first occupational therapy classes, will anchor the back of the float. The 12 riders are occupational therapy practitioners paired with clients and students who will all share powerful stories of how occupational therapy impacted them.

Phelps, from Laguna Beach, Cali., was inspired to pursue occupational therapy after observing occupational therapists working with Wounded Warriors and underserved children to recover from their psychological, emotional, and physical challenges through the occupation of surfing.

“When I saw veterans and kids light up as they learned how to surf, I realized there’s no end to what occupational therapy can do or who it can help,” Phelps explained. “The more I learn at USAHS, the more I fall in love with the profession.”

The OT Centennial Float launches OTAC’s year-long public education campaign, 100 Stories of OT, in recognition and celebration of a century of service to society. In the coming months, OTAC and USAHS will be sharing more stories of the impact that occupational therapy has had on the lives of OT clients and the individuals that serve clients and the profession.

“I am so honored to have led this effort to launch our 100 Stories of OT campaign. The first 12 stories represented by the float riders are so important and inspiring,” stated the 2017 OT Centennial Float Committee Chair Sarah Bream, OTD, OTR/L. “And the opportunity to work with such a visionary Board of Directors and dedicated committee as well as to interact with the profession around the country has been an extremely rewarding experience; beyond what I could have imagined.”

Decorating the “Celebrating A Century of Occupational Therapy” float begins Dec. 27 and ends January 1. Phelps will be available for media interviews during the decoration and at the official float judging on January 1. He will also be available for interviews after the parade ends during the post-parade showcase of floats.

To schedule an interview with a Harrison Phelps or for more information, please contact Rachael Lighty at [email protected] or 410.218.6055. For more information on occupational therapy education and student stories at USAHS, visit


About University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS)

The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) is a graduate institution that emphasizes health science education through innovative quality classroom and distance education. Founded in 1979, USAHS has locations in San Marcos, CaliforniaSt. Augustine, FloridaAustin, Texas and Miami, Florida. USAHS offers degree programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, education and health science, as well as continuing education programs.

In 2015, USAHS completed a rigorous assessment by B Lab®, an independent non-profit organization that serves as a global movement of people using business as a force for good, and became a Certified B Corporation®. USAHS is a member of the Laureate International Universities network, a global network of more than 70 campus-based and online universities with more than one million students in 25 countries, and one of the most significant global higher education providers for health sciences, and Laureate Education, Inc. is a Certified B Corp® – the largest corporation ever to become a B Corp™. For more information on USAHS, visit For more information about Laureate Education, Inc., visit


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