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 Blog


A Step Forward!

, by Alyssa · email · Leave a comment

Goodbyes are never easy. So, here I am, feeling a bit sad and reminiscent as I write my final blog post as a student ambassador. I have had the best memories with my fellow student ambassador team!

Student Ambassador Team
Student Ambassador Team 2016-2017

Graduation is tomorrow (YAA!!!!) and I am so excited to spend the day with my biggest supporters, my family and friends! I have had the most incredible year and I am so thankful that I chose USC. I still remember the initial moment I found out that I was accepted. I was in my dorm and received a cheerful call from Dr. Liz Carley. After this phone call ended, I could not help but to scream, dance, and share the good news! I knew that I had something very worthwhile lying ahead of me!

This journey of mine at USC has been quite transformative, as I have gone back and forth about what practice area (pediatrics, physical rehabilitation, etc.) I want to pursue. Thanks to the incredible faculty here at USC, I have received so much support to leave my “comfort zone,” and explore an emerging area for OT practice, primary care.

Dr. Rafeedie
Dr. Rafeedie, one of my favorite faculty mentors!

Throughout this past year, I have developed a strong interest and passion for helping individuals prevent and manage chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease) by adopting healthy lifestyle routines and habits.  Specifically, I find myself passionate about helping these individuals within the primary care setting. I am so excited to share that I will be staying here at USC to pursue my passion and clinical doctorate degree (OTD) in the advanced clinical track! I will be completing my residency at Alta Med Health Care and I can’t wait to start working with other health care professionals on interdisciplinary teams to meet the primary care needs of individuals across the lifespan (pediatrics to adults ☺)

For those of you who are just beginning your journey towards becoming an OT, I wish you the best of luck!

Embrace the value in every learning moment and always ask questions!
Take time to know your classmates and faculty, as these are the people who will teach and laugh with you along the way.
Thank the ones who support you ☺
Challenge yourself! & Most importantly, have fun and enjoy!

Fight on!
Fight on!

OT Friends
Love you long time OT Friends!


Things I wish I knew before moving to Los Angeles

, by Raisa · email · Leave a comment

Hello everyone! It’s good to be back from a much long blog-hiatus. As I have mentioned in my previous blog, things have been moving full-speed. We formally ended our classes a week ago, and guess what my comprehensive exam is tomorrow! eeeek! To calm myself down, I decided to write about something that I’ve been meaning to share with you all for the past few months. I understand that beginning your OT journey half-way across the globe is both an exciting and a stressful experience, believe me I’ve been there! So here are some of the things I wish I knew before the program and moving to L.A.

First of all, let’s talk about all of the resources at your disposal. All these links listed below are the respective USC offices and services that you may find helpful when you are just starting out in Los Angeles. 
USC Resources:

Office of International Services: offers services regarding immigration counselling, the OIS is also resource center to assist you with various government processes such as filing for a California driver’s license, filing for a SSN/ITN, filing U.S. Taxes etc.

Financial aid: offers variety of resources for international students looking for assistance in financing their education. 

Housing: here you can see the selection of housing options available to graduate students.

USC IT Services: here you can activate you USC ID (you need this to access the resources on campus!). Access the wireless network on campus, download available software to help you stay on top of your game during classes.

Eric Cohen Student health center: offers medical services, examination and screening, immunization, and student counseling.

Transportation: extremely useful to find USC tram times, parking passes, and they have useful information to help you navigate the urban jungle that is Los Angeles.

Department of Public Safety: I suggest reading the Safety tips & training section, this houses useful information regarding safety practices and resources that students should be aware of.

Chan division website: all the information about the division is found on the website. The Student blog and Videos are great resources to get a sneak peek into the lives of Chan Division Trojans. wink

Next, I wanted to talk about your personal experiences with occupational therapy. Everyone has an OT story, and USC celebrates that. It is a great privilege to bring your experiences and practice into your classes. Take the time to reflect on your own practice, look at the things that you want to improve and things that you thought worked well.  In my experience, often times the concepts I learn in class brings me back to my clinical internship, and professional experience in the Philippines. It provided a great opportunity to stir insight and spark inspiration to help me improve my practice. And if you don’t have experience, that is okay! Keep an open-mind, be like a sponge, and absorb the experiences shared by your classmates and professors. Learning is a two way process, you learn from them, and they learn from you. I know this may all seem intimidating and anxiety inducing, but you know what? Intimidation is good, life is boring without challenges. It is okay to be scared, just don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals. Always reach out to your professors, the division is here to support its students, and don’t forget all the resources mentioned above!

What does everyone else in the post-professional MA Class of 2017 have to say?

Tai-wei Lee
: Mentally and physically prepare to study in a perfect school! The class load might be a bit tough.
Bella Hsieh: Don’t forget to bring/buy sunglasses, it gets hot in Los Angeles!
Rucha Naik:Sunscreen!
Jayshree Nagvekar: Save your money, loads of great things to do on the way
Shikha Kamdar: Save your money to spend it on Black Friday…the clothes will last almost till your spring semester
Nikita Sunny: Get an umbrella! People say it doesn’t rain in LA but it rained this year!
Kathryna Gomez: They say [to bring] just a light jacket but I was freezing during winter.
Rucha Naik: It will be great to buy winter clothes from here. [the] Jacket I carried from India couldn’t keep me warm enough in this cold
Francis Co: Ralphs card
Kathryna Gomez: get all those cards, they help a lot Vons, Ralphs, Seafood Market, CVS etc.
Sujin Kim: kepp in mind the extra expenses that you might have during school year (educational evaluation, NBCOT, graduation etc.) so that you can plan your finances better
Chaitali Sutradhar:  Get at least a year of full-time clinical experience (not as a student)!
Raisa Fernan: Familiarize yourself with your personal devices! Learn to maneuver pdf readers, applications for note-taking, learn email etiquette, digital organization and the like. Keep copies of your personal documents, digital or print copies! Use apps like google maps, citymapper, uber, lyft to help you get around Los Angeles.

I will not lie, you will get homesick. You will find healthy ways to cope, whether it be a new support system or even exploring a new hobby. Internet connection is amazing, so take advantage of the technology and resources at our disposal. It’s not going to be easy, but I promise you it is going to be worth it. Lastly,

don’t forget to have fun!



Greetings from Ghana!

, by JRoe · email · Leave a comment

Hi everyone! I am back from a long blogging hiatus and can’t wait to share with you something very close to my heart: Ghana, Africa.

As both Jessica, Kimmy, and Raisa have explained, every spring the second year students in the MAII program and those in the MAI program complete a “leadership externship” in the two weeks prior to spring break. I chose to be a part of the annual trip to Ghana, Africa, where we promoted OT, collaborated with other healthcare professionals to learn how we could work together, participated in school readiness assessments, and gained cultural competency. Perhaps everyone’s favorite part is spending time with the kids at the boarding school we stayed at. The school, Mephiboseth Training Center, is for children with disabilities. Our team came from many different backgrounds and countries. We had occupational therapists, physical therapists, a language pathologist, teachers, and even an actor! Learning from this team of woman made me excited to go out into practice and make a difference. 

The whole team!

Everyday looked different from the next, making it fun and full of surprises. We had the opportunity to try the local food that the cooks made for us, explore a local jungle, visit a former slave castle, go to the beach, and visit an artisan market. Did you know that it was the first Africa country to gain independence from colonial rule in 1957?? Cool huh?!

Looking out over the rainforest!

The program was started fourteen years ago by Dr. Bonnie Nakasujii, who just won the first ever International Service Award this year at the AOTA Conference and Centennial Bash in Philadelphia!

This experience was something I looked forward to for four years. I first heard about this opportunity when I came to an info session; it was there that I knew I wanted to go to USC for OT and go on this trip. Yes, this trip was a factor in my decision to choose USC. I had never been to Africa, or that far away from home without my family, but it was something I knew I had to do.

One of my favorite memories from the trip was from beach day. The kids live a few miles from the beach, but there is not enough support to take all of them unless our large team is there. We all piled into the TroTro (which is a combo of a bus, taxi and van. Not a helpful description) with kids on our laps and headed to the beach. Since Ghana is so hot and humid being close to the equator, we all look forward to the beach as a chance to cool off, but for the kids, who are used to the temperature, think it’s cold! Seeing their faces as they splash and dive into the water was the best.

Beach day is the best day!

OT is in its infancy in Ghana as they are just now graduating their first students. However, they do have Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), which reminded me of OT and social work. They go out into the community and find people who would benefit from services. The CBR students that my group worked with were stationed at the Salvation Army in Daukwa for what was similar to a Level II fieldwork in OT school. This specific Salvation Army center specialized in children with cerebral palsy. There are children and families who would stay there for around a month to receive more intensive services that we were able to work with. They also made a lot of the assistive devices for the kids there in the workshop. They used the workshop as a vocational training center as well.

Learning how to make shoes!

The CBR students we met were assigned to clients in the community and we were lucky enough to meet some of them. The children would be assessed for their needs and see if they would be a better fit for the educational route or the vocational route. We met a few clients to see how they are doing and if they needed additional supports. One girl we met (pictured below), was learning how to make silk flowers through an apprenticeship in hopes that she could be independent and make these on her own.

With our CBR students and their client

One thing this trip taught me was to lean in. I really had no idea what to expect there and had no idea what I was getting into. All I knew is that it was going to be insanely hot and I needed to get shots. I cried packing because I was so nervous. Ghana was such an incredible experience and I can say I cried more saying goodbye to the kids than I did saying goodbye to my mom. I’m not afraid to go out into the world and let life happen now

I think it’s hard to fully describe the experience, so here are a lot of pictures.

Our team of USC OT students wearing our handmade clothes from Ghana


Let’s talk about Australia

, by Kimmy · email · Leave a comment

Well hello again!  The blog has looked a little bare these past few weeks, as the Master’s students were away on their leadership capstone externships.  A couple weekends ago, I returned from Australia, feeling joyful and jetlagged smile

The faculty at Griffith University were welcoming right from the airport and facilitated an amazing learning opportunity throughout our two weeks in Goldcoast.

USC externship students at airport

Along with five other classmates, I toured clinical sites, attended classes, visited fieldwork placements, and led presentations.  To become fully immersed in Aussie OT, we visited public and private hospitals, a children’s hospital, a nursing home, a pediatric clinic, a community-based mental health foundation, and a role-emerging site.  It was enlightening to hear about OT from leaders in each of these places and share our own experiences from fieldwork in similar settings.  Many of the buildings were recently renovated, so I was impressed by the colorful and modern designs!

Lady Cilento Children's Hospital

Overall, I was pleased to realize OT is more similar than different abroad.  The profession represents the same ideals of holistic, occupation-based, client-centered care in any hemisphere.  However, my classmates and I noted some differences within the education and healthcare systems.  In Australia, OT is a Bachelor’s degree, while a Master’s degree is required in the US.  However, undergraduate education is more focused toward a career in Australia, as determined by an exit exam taken at the end of high school which plays a role in determining students’ future paths.

USC students presenting to Griffith students

USC students presenting to Griffith students about leadership and professionalism within OT in the US

Now for the fun stuff!  (Not that learning about OT isn’t fun wink)
We held koalas:

We pet kangaroos:

We walked along the coastline to see the beautiful beaches:

We were total tourists at the Sydney Opera House:

We snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef:

...and we became even more enthusiastic about occupational therapy!  I would encourage every student to consider planning an amazing and meaningful externship.  Click on the bold names to learn more about Global Initiatives and the USC Summer Occupational Therapy Immersion.



OT Kickoff!

, by Alyssa · email · Leave a comment

Hello Spring!!

I apologize for my blogging absence these past few weeks-time flies fast when you are having fun and enjoying your electives!!

I am absolutely thrilled for the Month of April! In fact, so is our whole USC CHAN Division! During the month of April, we celebrate Occupational Therapy!! This past Monday, we celebrated our kickoff to OT Month with an event held at our Health Science Campus. This was a FUN, carnival-style event, with outdoor games, free PIZZA, OT buttons, and a quite informative skit from JROE and I! I had a blast spending time with my classmates, faculty, and our student ambassador team!

We live for OT Month!
We live for OT Month!

Pizza and OT Buttons! What more can we ask for!
Pizza and OT Buttons! What more could we ask for??

OT Carnival: Our cool Event Geofilter!!
OT Carnival: Our cool Event Geofilter!!

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