University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Ambassador Blog

Jessica P

Winter Break Occupations

, by Jessica P

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After a month long winter break, I am finally back on campus! Coming back for spring semester I always feel refreshed and excited after having some time off. The past few weeks I’ve found time to relax with family, catch up with friends, and even re-engage in some of my favorite, meaningful occupations.

I was able to spend time volunteering with PressFriends, an organization I have been involved with since I was in high school. As a mentor, I get to go to elementary schools in the Los Angeles area and help them develop after school newspaper programs.

This image shows a student with a PressFriends mug

My mom, sister, and I spent time visiting Georgia for the first time.

This image shows my sister and I in Georgia

My sister and I at Jekyll Island, Georgia

I even was able to engage in meaningful occupations while fulfilling the not so fun occupation of jury duty. During our long lunch breaks from the courthouse, I explored the wonderful food Downtown LA has to offer. I was a frequent customer at Grand Central Market where you can you can pretty much find any type of food you could ever want.

And of course, my favorite occupation of all – spending time with my dogs.

This image shows two dogs

This image shows a dog in the snow

I know that this next (and my last!!) semester is going to fly by and I can’t wait for all of the adventures to come!


Some People are Worth Melting For

, by Joyce

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This winter break I decided to do something a little bit different. Instead of flying back home to NYC, I decided to spend it in LA with the friends I made here. The entire city felt a little bit different. I wasn’t rushing to class or to the clinic. I had more time to actually clean my room and my loads of laundry. I could stay up watching midnight movies because there was nothing to wake up to the next morning. No studying… nothing.

I’m not exactly sure what my plans after graduation will be so I wanted to take advantage of this city while I still had the chance. Looking back, I was shocked to see how my life in LA filled up with a strong supportive network of beautiful souls.

Here are some highlights:

-Admission Holiday Lunch

As many of you might understand, it’s almost impossible to get everyone together in one place for one meal. So it was heartwarming to get together with the admissions team for a sit down meal outside of school. We went to San Antonio Winery for lunch and it was a great start to the holiday festivities as we engaged in conversations that were non-work related, ate great food, and just got to know each other a little bit more.

-Cabin Fever

With my closest OT sisters, I went on a cabin trip to Big Bear Lake. This was my first time there! We rented out an Airbnb and did absolutely nothing but chilled. We watched Lord of the Rings and Moana. We cooked KBBQ, tacos, and yes… a kale salad. We baked cookies at 10pm because we wanted to. The snow was melting during our stay, but it was nice to get away from the city for a week to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the stars at night!

-Mario-Kart IRL

No I did not win… I went go-karting this winter break and I realized that it was not as easy as they make it look like in the games. I raced twice. The first time, I wasn’t sure what to exactly to expect so I was very anxious. The go-karts themselves go up to 40MPH and I do not bode well with speed. I was that person… blocking everyone else… holding people up… oh and did I mention I rammed right into the wall? The second time around, I realized that I wanted to just enjoy the ride and thought of it as a leisure ride. I let the fast speeders go past me. I don’t mind being last place!

Winter break was a nice time to enjoy and explore the city of Los Angeles without the schedule and structure of school/work. However, I’m really excited for the new things that are happening this spring semester, like externships, electives, graduating… but that’s for a later post!


Presentation in South Korea

, by Goeun

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The new year has begun so as the new semester! Winter break has gone fast. During the winter break, I was back in my home country, Korea. I had a wonderful time back in there and I’d like to share some of my memories.

I was in Korea for three weeks and I visited a lot of places. I’m originally from Gwangju which is in the southern part of Korea. However, I went to a university in Daejeon, the middle part, so I went there to visit a professor and give a presentation about the Post-Professional Master’s Program for students at the university. Also, I worked in Jeonju before I came here, so I went there to visit the hospital where I worked and see my previous co-workers. I also went to Seoul and Daegu to visit my friends and went to Jeju Island with my family.

I went so many places and I’d love to introduce every places, but this time, I’ll tell you more about the presentation that I did. I planned for this while I was in here during the Fall semester. I was contacting with the professor from the university that I went, and got a chance to present about the Post-Professional Master’s Program in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science which I’m currently studying as well as Pre-Master’s Program from the USC International Academy which I did before the Post-Professional Master’s Program and SOTI Program from the Global Initiatives. It was a great opportunity for me to present about the program in my country as a student ambassador in the USC Chan Division and a senior from the university in Korea.

In the presentation, there were about 50 students mostly freshmen and sophomore who are interested in studying abroad. Like I mentioned earlier, I presented about the Post-Professional Master’s Program, Premaster’s Program, and SOTI Program. Also, I told them my experiences what I prepared to study in here from learning English to applying and adjusting to a new country.

It was so great to meet the students, introduce the programs, and tell my story. Lastly, since I’m the first student from my university who study abroad, I hope more students would come later as Post-Professional Master’s students or a SOTI program participants.

a picture of presentation about the Post-Professional Master’s Program.


American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference

, by Serena

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Last semester seemed like a whirlwind. My academic workload consisted of 4 courses: Health Promotion and Wellness, Adulthood and Aging, Occupation-Centered Programs for the Community, and the Mental Health immersion. Apart from classwork, I also completed my Level I Fieldwork at USC’s Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity, tabled and advocated for OT at various events such as the Latino Expo Event, and held the role as a Care Team Coordinator for the Student Run Clinic. One of my biggest accomplishments was attending two conferences. I previously mentioned the OTAC conference in Pasadena, California and I would love to tell you more about the second conference I attended: the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) conference in Indiana.

What is the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM)?

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) is a a healthcare association dedicated to preventing, managing, and reversing chronic diseases with lifestyle interventions. The ACLM healthcare professionals strive to place a greater emphasis on helping clients sustain healthier lifestyles such as engaging in health promoting diets, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoidance of substance and drug misuse.

My top 5 reasons for attending the ACLM conference.
1. Further my education in lifestyle medicine: Attend seminars and lectures led by renowned healthcare professionals in the field of Lifestyle Medicine (LM) like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Colin Campbell, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. Wayne Dysinger (whose wife happens to be an OT 😊).

Panel of guest speakers at the 2018 American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference in Indiana. From left to right: Dr. Michael Gregor, Dr. Dean Ornish,  Dr. Colin Campbell, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.


2. Learn about and advocate for OTs role in LM: At the conference I was the only individual in the field of OT. It is an amazing feeling to be able to advocate for our profession in the growing field of LM since we are trained to address lifestyle changes with a focus on habits and routines.

3. Focus on my passion: I love being able to combine my interests with my profession. 

4. Meet and connect with other healthcare professionals with the same interests: One of the highlights of the event was being surrounded by people who not only wanted to help others live a healthier and happier life but they too were practicing a healthy lifestyle. For example, all of the food at the conference was whole food plant-based and a 5k walk during the conference was built within the schedule. Talk about work life balance!

During the conference, a 5k walk event occurred around the mesmerizing Indianapolis Canal.


5. Gain skills to then go back home and make a change to my life and to the lives of others: I am grateful to have a roommate who is a medical student and also attended the conference. We are both passionate about helping others live a healthier life. Most importantly we realize the importance of the change first having to start with our own habits and routines. 

Me and my roommate at the 2018 American College of Lifestyle Medicine Conference.


Words of Advice
During your own OT journey, whether it be before, during, or after your academic career, I would highly suggest attending a conference related to your interests. Especially an interest where you feel OT may belong but lacks a wide presence. If you have any questions at all about ACLM and OTs involvement please feel free to contact me!


Increasing Diversity - Semester Review

, by Melissa

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Hey everyone! As we’re getting ready to go on break, I’ve had some time to reflect on this past semester, and look at everything we’ve managed to accomplish in our short time as Student Ambassadors. Increasing diversity within our program and the field of occupational therapy is a goal that took priority for Serena (another wonderful Student Ambassador) and myself. USC prides itself on being one of the most diverse occupational therapy programs. However there is still a lack of minority representation, particularly a lack of Hispanic and African American students. The same can be said of our profession as a whole, therefore we established some goals related to increasing diversity within the division, and we couldn’t wait to get started!

When you have a team and program that is equally as passionate about your goals as you are, it’s hard not to over-achieve. We dove right into recruiting and presenting at different clubs and universities in the area, and we were excited to reap the rewards of our hard work. We had lots of ideas, and we thought that improved minority representation would come quickly. Studies have shown that patients have better health outcomes when they work with clinicians that have a similar cultural background, and working in Los Angeles we will encounter patients from different minority backgrounds.Therefore, this goal is of particular importance to us because of the makeup of our patient population, and the cultural discrepancy between the clinicians that serve them.

As the semester went on, we realized that our goals were a bit lofty for a position we’d be in for less than a year, as it can take a long time to establish a single long-term relationship. We focused on reaching out to as many programs and clubs as we could, in an attempt to have the most impact possible. However, our progress was not as rapid as we would have liked, so we’ve begun to reconfigure our goals to be more achievable in the amount of time that we have left in this position. Our supervisor has been instrumental in helping us view where we’ve fallen short of our expectations as something to learn from, and as an opportunity for growth. Most importantly, we have not lost our excitement and passion surrounding increasing diversity!

Being able to tackle diversity as one of my goals is only possible because of the support that I have from my team and the Chan division. It’s been incredible to work alongside faculty and staff within the program that also value this goal as much as I do. If you ever have any questions regarding diversity within our program or within our profession, feel free to reach out! And as always, fight on!

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