Q & A with Retiring Occupational Therapy Professor Jim Hinojosa

In an interview with SpOTlight, Hinojosa talks about his 25 years at NYU, his reflections on the profession, and life after retirement.

How did you get your start in Occupational Therapy?

I got into OT by accident. I was a biochemistry major at Colorado State, giving tours to prospective students. I used to joke on the tour that the home economics program brought women into the school. Well, the Dean overheard me one day and let me know that there were many programs under that home economics umbrella, one of them being OT at the time. I looked into it and it ended up being a combination or what I really wanted to do. I got to take all the basic sciences that I was interested in and also got to take art, weaving, and other interesting topics. It really worked for me.

What was your path to NYU?

After completing my master’s at Columbia and my doctorate at NYU, I was an associate professor at Downstate Medical Center-SUNY. The chair of the Occupational Therapy department at NYU at the time knew there was an upcoming opening for the director of post-professional programs, so I applied and was hired. After five years, I was promoted to a full professor, and I’ve been here ever since. During my time here I taught primarily theory. My whole core knowledge that I’m known for is the theoretical base of practice and how it influences day-to-day practice.

What were your favorite aspects of working in the department?

I taught mostly post-professional classes that are relatively small, and therefore I got to create assignments that relied on a lot of involvement with the students. It helped me really get to know them as they’re developing various projects or looking at a particular theory. Really getting to know the students as individuals had been the most rewarding.

Do you have any stand-out memories from your 25 years here?

One memory that sticks out is that of so many student’s achievements after they have finished the program. Many of my doctoral students have surpassed me and my expectations of what I thought they would achieve, worldwide. I have past students who are now deans in schools across the country, program directors, and directors of research in their institutions. One of the most meaningful experiences is when I get to go to a conference and students come up to me and thank me for particular focus that they have or something that I had offered in a class. It feels good to know their time in the department influenced them in such a positive way.

What about life after NYU? Any big plans for retirement?

I think that with retirement will come more control of my own time. I don’t want to make too many particular plans or goals right now, but I want to use it as an opportunity to grow in a way that I will find interesting, like trying out some volunteer work. Also, I have to find a way to fit all the contents of my NYU office into my current (small) apartment!

What kind of legacy would you like to leave at Steinhardt?

I’d like to think I will leave the legacy of a strong focus on theory-based practices in the classroom, as well as some of the things that I introduced into the curriculum like textbooks that are still being used today. Also, the conceptualization of both the PhD program and the clinical doctorate program. My colleagues and students are all incredible people. They are skilled, knowledgeable, and stimulating to work with. I’ve been very fortunate.


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