One of my all-time favorite occupations is working with kids. This week, I was fortunate enough to help out at a summer day-camp program. I have been involved with this program for 8 years now, and I have got to say it is one of the highlights of my summer. This year has been exciting and different, also, in that I have been able to apply material from the Lifespan Development and Psychology courses I took last semester. Both of these courses (which we take in the Bachelor’s to Master’s program) address fundamental aspects of the development of children, and have been so applicable in daily life this week.
One of my favorite parts about studying to become an OT is how the coursework can be applied to individuals I meet each day, across the lifespan. Even simple activities like working for a summer day-camp are able to reinforce and practically display the material I have learned as an OT major thus far.
I was especially excited this year to be working with a group of crazy, cautious, and adorable TWO-year-olds!! These little ones take a lot of energy and patience, but my heart just melts to see them grinning from ear to ear as we do various crafts, games, lessons and songs.
Not to mention, craft time this week looked a lot like the classrooms here that are currently set up for Creativity, Craft and Activity Analysis—a course the Entry Level Master’s students are currently taking! :)
Another aspect of OT I have needed to use this week is creativity. Just as an OT takes each patient’s needs into consideration to establish a meaningful treatment plan, I have had to alter my approach when working one-on-one with each child. The toddlers in my group vary in their ability to verbally communicate, follow directions, complete activities… or even sit still for over 30 seconds. With this in mind, creativity has improved my ability to communicate with each child and ensured that our group has a productive and fun week!
Nothing I would rather do this week than hang out with these cute kids! Two-year-olds can be tiring, but SO much fun at the same time! If you have some free time and love kids as much as I do, I highly recommend volunteering at a day-camp or summer program!
Today, the sun is shining and the hallways are buzzing with new OT students!
This past Monday was orientation for all of the new Entry-Level Master’s Students, and I could not be more excited for them to be here! It has been such a pleasure getting to meet some of these students and to learn a bit about how they found their way to USC’s OT program. Each student has such an interesting (and often vastly different) history that has led them to this point, and I think it is so fun to hear how their undergraduate major/ volunteer experience/ personal encounters with OTs have changed their lives and brought them here!
Sadly the only picture that I have from orientation, but so fun to be in an auditorium full of such amazing students and faculty!
It has also been so amazing to meet prospective students at our summer Info Sessions. These prospective OT students always impress me with their knowledge and passion for the profession—and some have luckily discovered their love for OT at quite a young age! I would have to say one of my favorite parts about being an ambassador is talking with prospective high school students. They often have the most interesting stories about how they found OT and have developed such an early passion for the profession. Plus, it is always fun to go on and on about how much I love the Bachelor to Master’s Program! :)
Happy Friday, Everyone! Try and stay cool this weekend. And to all the new students…Welcome to the Trojan Family!! We are so excited for you to start this journey.
For my first blog post, I am going to share a little about how I discovered occupational therapy! Now, I would be lying if I said that I had always known that this was my dream career. In fact, I spent most of my life dreaming of becoming an elementary school teacher. This dream may have been slightly influenced by the fact that my Mom and Grandma were both elementary school teachers—but, regardless, I was confident that I would follow in their footsteps. With a love for working with children and a desire to make an impact, I figured this was the most practical career for me to pursue. However, when I began volunteering as a preschool teacher, I could not help but feel as if something was missing. I loved being surrounded by children, watching the wonder in their eyes with each new discovery—but I felt restricted by the four walls of the classroom. I found myself frustrated by the generic approach I had to take to effectively teach all children, and desired a more individualized approach. What I truly loved about teaching were the one-on-one moments with students, the times when I could truly understand and engage with each student. However, because I started volunteering at this preschool at quite a young age, my dreams about the future seemed rather premature. I decided to put all this career planning on the back-burner until something truly caught my attention.
Almost as soon as I made this decision, I stumbled upon occupational therapy. The word “stumbled” could not be more accurate—I found OT through an experience I never saw coming. In the spring of 2009, I was admitted to the hospital following lapses in memory and irregular changes in behavior. Following two grand mal seizures, I was admitted to the hospital where I was diagnosed and treated for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. While receiving chemotherapy transfusions and attending various rehabilitative sessions, I was exposed to a large variety of healthcare professionals. However, the endless support and reassurance I received from my occupational therapist has impacted me to this day. At a time where I felt so scared and helpless, she was able to bring peace. I remember feeling so triumphant when I was able to tie my own shoes or sign my name on a piece of paper. This occupational therapist was a source of light to my family in a time of such hardship. Once recovering and being discharged from the hospital, I could not stop thinking about how much this occupational therapist impacted me. I did know, however, that I wanted to be like her. I wanted to give back to others, to offer the same hope that I received all those years ago.
To be honest, I did not ever expect to find my future career this way. However, I am so thankful to have found such a fulfilling profession. I am equally as thankful to have had the opportunity to be a patient, and to have experienced firsthand how much impact an occupational therapist can have in someone’s life.
With each day I learn more about occupational therapy, I become more in love with the profession. Rather than feeling generic or formulaic, occupational therapy breeds creativity and innovative thinking. This profession is able to combine my fascination with the complexity of the human body with my utmost desire to give back to those in need, and I could not be more thrilled to be on the path toward becoming an OT!
Hello everyone! I am very sad that this will be my last blog post as a student ambassador. This has been such an amazing year and I would highly recommend applying to be a student ambassador during your second year in the program!
Graduation was last Friday and this past Monday I started my first day of my second Level II fieldwork rotation. I am so excited that I will be staying here at USC to pursue my OTD degree in the advanced clinical track and will be completing my residency at Keck Hospital of USC. (Just across the street from CHP so if you ever see me, please say hello!!)
I look forward to seeing new faces around campus in just a few weeks when the new incoming class joins us! Welcome to our Trojan family Class of 2018, you are in for the most amazing two years of your life!! Fight on :)
The time has finally arrived! Essays have been essay-ed, tests have been taken, comps have been comp-ed, presentations have been presented, and friends have been…well, friend-ed and subsequently woven into my heart. In other words—we’re finished! Two weeks ago, we took the comprehensive exam—a test that pulls together information from seven of the classes we’ve taken over the past two years and reminds us all how much we’ve forgotten in such a short period of time. Suffice it to say, everyone I know got out alive.
It has been such a privilege to study occupational therapy at this renowned institution. The myriad experiences I’ve had throughout grad school—from attending our national conference to hands-on classroom fun to customizing my courses to celebrating the gift that is life here in Los Angeles—have truly been a rollercoaster of excitement, challenge, friendship, and lessons in learning more about myself and occupational therapy than I ever thought I could.
As I sit here on the precipice of graduate school and “real life,” I can’t help but feel a bit verklempt about leaving this place and the people who make it as special as it is. We’ve come so far; I can hardly believe it has been two years.
Next steps on my agenda? I’m moving from my beloved Echo Park apartment back to the San Francisco Bay Area, where I will complete my second level two internship in SF at California Pacific Medical Center (Sutter Health), a multidisciplinary outpatient pediatric clinic. I’ll be continuing to pursue my passion for impacting people’s lives through connection, compassion, and creativity. Whether it be through infusing technological innovation into my interventions, building adaptive equipment, or advocating for OT in the public sphere, I hope to advance our profession in my own unique way.
My fellow ambassadors have given you readers a number of great words of wisdom and pieces of advice for conquering graduate school, so I won’t repeat. Instead, I will leave you—my readers—with three suggestions my favorite history teacher left me with before I graduated high school. They still resonate with me today:
- If you want to make an impact on someone, write them a handwritten letter and mail it via snail-mail. Think about it; when was the last time you received a letter in the mail (handwritten, no less) that you actually wanted to read? It’s a surefire way to make a lasting impression.
- Take care of your back. Seriously. You only have one spine and you need it to be functional for hopefully ten decades or so. Once it’s hurt you’ll have a heck of a time trying to fix it, and it will encroach on almost every aspect of your life (and your ability to complete your daily occupations)! So strengthen your core, practice good posture, learn proper lifting techniques, and brush up on your workplace ergonomics. It will help you survive grad school and it will help you enjoy life.
- It’s never too late to send a thank-you note. No explanation necessary for this one! :-)
So that’s it. Three morsels of advice from me to you. And with that—I’m out! Happy graduation to all who just completed the program, and WELCOME TO THE TROJAN FAMILY to all those who are just entering. FIGHT ON!!!