Empowered by Knowledge

Occupational Therapist Shaul Kohn Forged His Own Path

July 24, 2018
SHAUL KOHN, OT: You somehow have to forge your own path. I definitely have some sort of memories growing up, [thinking to myself,] I'm going to be something, but I can't recall what they were. But we never explored it.

I was born in a hasidic family. I went to hasidic school. My primary language was Yiddish.

I got engaged at 18 and-a-half and met my wife. And I was married at 19. It took me time to really understand what a career really is, and how it shapes you as an individual.

The concept of building a career really started at Touro. Touro started opening up avenues in my minds about thinking. Whether it's anatomy, whether it's physics, whether it's chemistry, I felt I was empowered by knowledge.

I graduated in 2010. So since then, I've been back at Touro, teaching. I co-teach the course in neuro-anatomy. Everyday when I come to teach, I try to come with that exact same enthusiasm, that same inspiration that I had about learning. When I give over that information to the students, it feels really satisfying.

I use the word "first" a lot. I was really the first to go to college, the first to pass college. I look around, and I try to inspire my family members or my community and people around me and basically say: you can always be that person. So Touro really provided that acceptance and that reassurance, that I can still pursue a meaningful degree and learn and grow, but without somehow contradicting or somehow impacting where I come from.

Occupational therapist Shaul Kohn grew up in the Chasidic community of Borough Park. Married at 19 and busy with religious study, Kohn said finding his career wasn’t on his radar.

“It took me time to understand what a career really is and how it shapes you as an individual,” said Kohn. “I realized I had to forge my own path.”

Looking to find that path, Kohn enrolled in Touro’s Machon L’Parnosa.

“Touro opened up avenues in my mind,” Kohn said. After graduating, he decided to become an occupational therapist and applied to Touro’s School of Health Sciences Occupational Therapy program. “I was empowered by knowledge.”

Kohn graduated in 2010. These days, aside from working in yeshivas and maintaining his private practice, he returned to Touro, this time as a teacher. “I come to my class with the same enthusiasm I had when I was a student,” he said.

Kohn likes to say he is many firsts: the first member of his family to attend college; the first to graduate college and the first to succeed in a career in the health field.

“I try to inspire my family and members of my community,” he explained. “Touro provided me with the acceptance and assurance that I can pursue a meaningful degree without contradicting where I come from.”