Today is officially my last day of classes within the the Two-Year Master of Arts degree program for Occupational Therapy! This week my biggest stressors were preparing enough food to accommodate all of the potlucks that we have in celebration!
On Monday, the second year bible study leaders handed off the torch to the first year leaders with a wonderful picnic.
On Tuesday, we had our final practicum in OT 599: Occupation-Based Adult Neurorehabilitation, then celebrated with a giant feast!
Then, today for my final class assignment, I will facilitate a group in OT 583: Lifestyle Redesign. I am a member of the group focused on, “Sensory Strategies for Wellness,” which Joe had previously mentioned in his blog. To lead this session I prepared different food items for my group members to sample. Each item was intentionally picked to serve as either an alerting or calming gustatory stimuli, in order to regulate one’s emotions and stress throughout the day.
While my session is targeting taste as a sensory strategy for wellness, my classmates have led the groups prior, which discuss the other senses. Thus, to summarize and provide closure to our group, I also created this worksheet to remind everyone of what we have learned throughout our semester.
Essentially, we built a toolkit of sensory strategies, to serve as a visual reminder, whenever we experience those emotions listed. I can’t wait to be able to utilize this with clients in the near future!
This morning I had the pleasure of leading a campus tour for clients from Homeboy Industries.
Homeboy Industries is an incredible organization whose mission is “to help formerly gang involved and the previously incarcerated, by offering hope, training and job skills. Our goal: To help former gang members redirect their lives and become contributing members of their families and our community.” They offer a variety of services & programs for education, employment, legal services, as well as mental health services. They also have several social enterprises where they employ and provide job training to former gang members and previously incarcerated people.
The group I led today was from their Pathways to College program, which provides support and education in pursuit of college degree programs. The students had a variety of interests and had never heard of Occupational Therapy, so it was a great opportunity to share with them this potential profession. They were also interested to hear about the clients I’ve worked with who had been involved in gangs and had previously been incarcerated.
We had such a great time, that they offered to swap roles and give me a tour of their facilities soon!
To cap off our Lifestyle Redesign course, we develop our own 5 week group program as a team. Each team gets to decide the theme or lifestyle area they want to address as a group; some group topics include “sensory strategies for wellness”, “life management skills (e.g. finances, time management, etc)”, and “healthy eating”. My group theme is “exploring recreation”, so each week, one of us leads the rest of the group in trying out a new recreational or leisure activity. Here’s a peak at some faves:
I kicked off our 5 week program by teaching the group one of my favorite occupations: Slacklining!
We caused quite a scene in front of our building to the point that our Occupational Science professor, Don Gordon, came out to join the fun!
Last week, my classmate, Talin, led 5 of us in one of her favorite occupations: belly dancing.
Check us out with our hip scarves! Our Lifestyle Redesign professor, Camille Dieterle, joined us in the dance too, but we were having too much fun to take any action shots.
Our group is also going to explore cooking, coloring, and gymnastics. It’s a really fun class, but I’m about ready for a nap…
It’s my favorite time of year!
Last week was the AOTA National Conference in Chicago, IL. This conference is the largest gathering of OT practitioners, researchers, and students in the world, with an estimated attendance of over 10,000 people!
USC Chan is world known for our contributions to research & practice through global leadership and innovation. It’s so exciting to meet Trojan alums who are blazing new trails in OT practice and leading the profession in local, state and national organizations. There were over 100 Trojans speaking at conference, myself included, and several alums receiving prestigious awards such as the AOTA Roster of Fellows Award, and the AOTA-AOTF Presidents’ Award. You can see a full listing of USC at Conference here: http://chan.usc.edu/news-and-events/conference
As the Chair for AOTA’s Assembly of Student Delegates, I preside over an annual meeting with students from OT & OTA programs across the country.
Aren’t we a fun looking bunch? The Assembly brings the student perspective to AOTA at large, and also acts to bring AOTA initiatives & opportunities to students around the country.
There are 3 Trojans on the Assembly Steering Commitee: Myself as the Chair, Ellen Wleklinski MA ‘15 and current OTD student as the OT Vice Chair, and Lizzie Peters MA ‘16 as the Secretary. We also have 2 USC Student representatives in the photo: Kelsey Peterson, current first-year, and Ann Borreson, current second-year.
AOTA President, Ginny Stoffel, addresses over 10,000 attendees.
Lizzie and I with Heather Thomas, USC Alum MA ‘98, and California representative to AOTA’s Representative Assembly (basically AOTA’s “congress”).
Keynote speakers: Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downs shared their experience with Occupational Therapy after surviving the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. #BostonStrong
(You can read more on their story here).
New practitioners share stories of their transition from student to full-time practitioners. Ellen Wleklinski (middle of panel) shares her experience as an OTD Resident at USC Keck Medical Center.
Line up of previous awardees of the Eleanor Clark Slagle Lecture, one of OT’s highest awards given to those who have “creatively contributed to the development of the body of knowledge of the profession through research, education, and/or clinical practice”. USC Chan’s Associate Dean, Florence Clark is the 4th person from the left; other USC winners include: A. Jean Ayres, Ruth Zemke, Wilma West, Mary Reilly, and Elizabeth Yerxa, among others.
Me and Susan Lingelbach, USC MA ‘13, AOTA Emerging Leader, and the former chair for the Assembly. We’re keeping this USC leadership legacy going strong!
Dancing off until next year’s Conference!
My first AOTA conference was amazing! While Jodie, Joe and I all attended, we each had very unique experiences.
1) I volunteered at the welcoming ceremony where I got to walk in the 50+ year members of AOTA. It was an incredible honor, and you should’ve seen my beaming ear to ear grin from behind that sign! It was an incredible feeling to know that in 48 years I could be walking in line with these phenomenally dedicated practitioners.
2) The USC Trojan Alumni Party is always a great time! This picture shows just some of my 2nd year colleagues that I mingled with surrounded by professors and program graduates.
3) I was able to see the famous Hull House that we learn so much about through our Foundations of Occupational Therapy course. This is one of the places that cultivated the initial paradigm of healing through occupation!
4) At the Exhibit Hall I was able to speak with poster presenters, OT companies, and supply vendors! Through the poster presentations I learned about programs being developed all throughout the nation, while networking with practitioners and students with similar interests. As you can tell, there was a lot going on! I loved this because the Expo Hall truly provided a booth that fit everyone’s interest, and room to expand your interests even further!
5) Attending this conference was only possible through a scholarship that I had acquired through the OT department! I entered a video submission for the OT Extravaganza student video contest and won! Thank you to the OT department for providing me with such a wonderful learning, growing, and meaningful conference experience.