Hunter Bozant discovered his career by accident.
In December 2015, Bozant rear-ended an 18-wheeler, his hood sliding under the semitrailer's frame. Although the seatbelt jerked his body back, his brain jolted forward in his skull, causing frontal lobe bleeding.
Doctors predicted years in the hospital and in recovery.
But Bozant defied these odds. What started with Jaws of Life ended — thanks to firsthand experience with occupational therapy — in a new career plan.
Bozant barely remembers his hospital stay. Because of a broken tibia and traumatic brain injury, he worked with both physical and occupational therapists.
By late January 2016, he moved from hospital to outpatient rehabilitation facility.
There, he worked with an occupational therapist on neuro-based activities like piecing
together 3D puzzles and building and disassembling complex Lego sets to recover planning
skills and focus.
Two months later, Bozant had finished outpatient therapy too.
"I had no lasting deficits," he said. "I'm living life just as I would have if the accident hadn't happened."
The accident did give the 19-year-old pause, though. He cycled through mechanical engineering, math, and sports management university programs. Nothing clicked.
That's when he considered the health care professionals who had helped him recover skills for daily life — occupational therapists.
Bozant's "second chance" was San Jacinto College's occupational therapy assistant program. And his dream? Helping others recover from brain injuries.
Mental health advocate
There was no question occupational therapy fit. Even before starting the San Jac program in fall 2020, Bozant "fell in love with the medical field" while taking prerequisites like Anatomy and Physiology I.
His people skills impressed program director Sheina Farooqui.
"He brought his authentic personality to the table," Farooqui said. "His laugh was therapeutic for all of us."
Having struggled with a brain injury and depression, Bozant also advocated for mental health. Before tests and projects, he often led classmates through mindfulness exercises to focus on the present.
In 2021, he took that advocacy mindset to the Texas Occupational Therapy Association annual conference, sharing about students' mental health during COVID-19 and leading professionals through meditation and mindfulness exercises.
"It wasn't just me talking about my past," he said. "It was me allowing my experience to help the profession."
Bozant also brought a unique perspective to the San Jac program as one of its first male students. Although women pioneered the profession and continue to dominate the field, patients are asking for more diversity.
"Welcoming and having students with racial, gender, and age differences all in the classroom makes for a rich curriculum," Farooqui said. "It helped us question and break unconscious biases we brought into it, allowing us to challenge the status quo and propel the profession forward."
Since graduating in May 2022 and earning his national certification, Bozant has worked in adult home health. This March, he switched to a skilled nursing facility, where he stretches his creativity helping short-term patients in the on-site gym.
Someday he plans to earn a doctorate in neuropsychology to bring more brain/behavior expertise to the field. Meanwhile, he considers himself 100% in the right career, helping people return to their daily lives and independence. In fact, his enthusiasm usually stops anyone from asking why he pursued a female-dominated field.
"I come in with such a passion they don't have a chance to say that," he said.
While Bozant may have discovered his career field by accident, the choice to become an occupational therapy assistant was anything but accidental.
"It's important for everyone to pursue what they enjoy," he said.
Occupational therapy assistants ...