Sarah McWilliams

Ms. Siann Bowman influenced the career paths of many of the graduating Occupational Therapists of 2010, myself included. I had never considered working in the mental health field, I’m sure many of my peers hadn’t either, but we all found ourselves completely enthralled by this exciting teacher we had, with her amazing stories, full of knowledge for us to learn. Never had I experienced a teacher so passionate about their field, it was infectious and we were all completely drawn into her lectures wanting more.

In our final year, we were to place our preferences for our placement fields. Mental health was typically one of the less desired placements with paediatrics being the most sought after, not for our year level though, mental health was the most in demand and I have no doubt in my mind that this was heavily influenced by Ms. Bowman.

In my six years since graduating I have already enjoyed an amazing career. I’ve worked in a variety of mental health settings; acute, rehabilitation, adult, aged and paediatric, I’ve also enjoyed executive roles and been involved in the state-wide implementation of the new Mental Health Act in 2014, I am now the youngest member of the Victorian Mental Health Tribunal.

I have Ms. Bowman to thank for inspiring me to work as an occupational therapist in the mental health field and I am so grateful because she led me into a truly rewarding career.

One of many things that Ms. Bowman taught me, which I believe is relevant for everyone, both in their professional and personal relationships is the notion of having “unconditional positive regard” a concept that means we accept and support a person regardless of what they do, we suspend our own judgements, opinions and biases and we listen to a person with the approach that the person has within themselves the ability to change without changing who he/she is.

Siann, you were an unforgettable teacher, your passion for your work has inspired and influenced the careers of so many. Thank you for providing such an excellent learning experience at La Trobe University.