University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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OS/OT Student Blog


Soaking up the Sun! →

Nov 15, 2014, by Kristy · email · Leave a comment

One of the fantastic things about being in Southern California is getting to enjoy the sun all year long!  I love being able to walk outside, go for hikes, and just enjoy the sunshine smile

Dogs enjoying the sun while I study

Why you might ask? Well… I am from a very tiny town in Northern Minnesota.  So while I’m out here soaking up the sun, my family and friends back home are fighting with 1 foot of snow and 20 degree weather! Yup - you read that right! It’s that cold, did someone say Polar Vortex???  Needless to say, I am thankful to be in Los Angeles!  So how did I get here….let me tell you about my journey from a small town to the big city!

Drive across the country
      My pups and I on our 2100 mile journey to California!

A few years ago, I decided I was ready for a change from my job working with patients and assisting them through the process of making the appointment, preparation for, and getting the results.  I loved working in the healthcare field, but I didn’t feel like I was actually making a difference in their life.  More so, I was just helping them along; but I wanted to be apart of the process in their journey of getting better and living life to the fullest!  So I started researching different healthcare professions.  I came across your standard: pharmacist (tried that, next), nurse (shots, no thanks), doctor (length of school, meh), psychologist (hhmmm..), physical therapist (anatomy, too much), occupational therapy (TELL ME MORE).  As I began researching occupational therapy, I just kept thinking to myself - this is it, this is me, this is what I’ve been waiting for!  So I went to the AOTA webpage and started looking for schools.  I knew I needed a change in my life, so what better change than to head to the west coast for graduate school!  Then it was just figuring out all the prerequisites and requirements for each school and begin the application process.  I was really going to do this!!!  I took two courses that summer that I needed to fulfill the prereqs, and then planned a trip to visit a few colleges in California, obviously one being the University of Southern California!  I fell in love! It was better than I could have dreamed, everyone was so great and USC had so much to offer!  As soon as I returned home I began working on my applications and OTCAS.  My goal was to submit them all and be finished by October 30th, since USC had an early deadline of November 30th and said to submit 4 weeks ahead of time!  I’m happy to say I met my goal, so next was the waiting game!!! How long could it really take….let me tell you - awhile!!! Even though I applied to several schools in California and Washington, I had already ranked them in my head, but still I wasn’t sure who I would hear from first.  I waited…and waited…and waited, and then finally on Christmas Eve, I got home from work and checked my mail…and there it was…an envelope from USC.  Now if you all watch tv shows, they always say you want the “big” envelopes, because “small” ones are rejection letters. Mine was a small envelope.  Shakingly, I opened the letter, and much to my relief I had been accepted!!!  Overcome with feelings of joy, excitement, determination, and fear, I didn’t know what to think!  Was I really ready to move across the country, all by myself, where I didn’t know anyone, and pursue my dream?  Fast forward a few months, I flew out to California again to find a place to live and attend the admitted student reception and knew this was absolutely the place I wanted to be!  I was so excited to begin this journey. 

With all that being said, I have never been happier with a decision I made.  It has been one of the best thus far in my life!  So never think a dream is too big, or too difficult!  You can do it!  And be successful! Take a risk, make a change, live your life to the fullest!  That’s what we tell our patients to do, isn’t it? You can do it too! Dream big! I did smile


Pedal Pushers! Pedal to the Medal, Giving Back Shifted to Another Gear! →

Nov 14, 2014, by Jonathan · email · Leave a comment

Hello there everyone! Hope that you’re all doing great!

This past Sunday, some of my fellow classmates and I had the opportunity to help out Pedal Pushers, a Los Angeles chapter of Ambucs Inc., a non-profit organization that helps to provide adaptive tricycles for children and adults through fundraising within the community! The opportunity to get involved with this awesome cause was wheely fun and wheely rewarding raspberry This amazing organization was brought to my attention by Sonserey, a member of Pedal Pushers, who I had the pleasure of meeting at OTAC.  I SPOKE (hehe) with Sonserey and she told me all about Pedal Pushers and Ambucs, in addition to the story of what fuels their efforts. Sonserey is an occupational therapist who works in pediatrics. She told me that when she’s doing an evaluation, much alike most OT’s, we start off by trying to decipher what the client’s meaningful occupations are. A common response from the kids she works with is to “ride a bike.” However, for some children with special needs, a traditional bicycle may not be the most practical option. Thus, Amtryke therapeutic tricycles were created to offer an adaptable, universally designed option for children with varying levels of physical abilities! The Amtrykes can be custom made to have a number of features, based on the child’s abilities, safety, and family preference. These features include hand or foot operation, rear-assist steering, assistive pedals, in addition to other adaptations. The best part is, everything on the Amtryke can be adjusted, so the child can continue to use their Amtryke as they get bigger and grow older!

What my classmates and I had the opportunity to participate in on Sunday was actually the final phase of the Amtryke process. It all starts off first with raising enough funds to be able to purchase the Amtryke for the child. Committed families, friends, and communities focus their efforts in hopes that they can make the child’s dream come to fruition. Second, the child is then assessed and fitted for their very own Amtryke. Therapists will collaborate with the children and their families in designing a unique Amtryke that best fits the child’s abilities, function, and interests. The final stage in the process was what my classmates and I had the pleasure of participating in on Sunday! There’s a build an amtryke work shop in which therapists and volunteers will actually create the Amtrykes for the children. The children and their families then pick up the Amtrykes, give it a test drive, and then get to take their Amtryke home! The whole process requires a great deal of diligence on the child’s part, as they patiently wait for an Amtryke they can call their own.

The whole building process we engaged in on Sunday was fun, informative, and extremely rewarding. When the children and their families arrived, you could see the excitement on the children’s faces. To see how ecstatic they were when they first hopped on their Amtryke and propelled a couple feet forward was absolutely priceless! The genuine elation that consumed the kids was contagious, and you couldn’t help but feel the same happiness. Thank you so much to Pedal Pushers and Ambucs for letting us be part of this amazing cause! Here’s some pictures of the process, enjoy!

Amtryke 1st years

Amtryke Supplies

hard at work

Putting in work

Almost done

finished product


there she goes!


If you’d like to learn more and get involved with Pedal Pushers/Ambucs, please feel free to visit the following links:

Also feel free to like Pedal Pushers page on facebook:

Thank you for reading! Have a great weekend, follow your passion, pedal on, but remember to not lose your balance smile

- Jonathan


Learning Handy Skills! →

Nov 12, 2014, by Claire · email · Leave a comment

This week, our adult rehabilitation course is focusing on hand rehabilitation and making splints! Here are some pictures of the splints that we made in lab:



There’s a lot to learn and I could definitely improve on some of the splints that I made, but it was fun to practice the skill! We made a neoprene thumb splint that is commonly used for children with cerebral palsy in our pediatrics lab course last semester. Now I have many more to add to my splint collection!

We will be having a guest lecture from an adjunct faculty, Lisa Deshaies, who also works at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center also (in about half an hour actually), and I’m really looking forward to it! Our textbook reading for this week was a chapter that was written by her as well—we are really lucky to have so many experienced OT faculty members and connections!

EDIT: We just wrapped up our guest lecture! I learned a lot about hand therapy and physical agent modalities, and Lisa also helped dispel any fears we might have about pursuing hand therapy certification. We got to try out some of the equipment and therapy techniques. We were told, “If you’re going to use these methods on your patients, you should know what the experience is like!”

Here are some pictures:

Cold Therapy: Instead of buying fancy ice cups, you can make your own by freezing water in styrofoam cups and peeling off the bottom!

Heat Therapy with Paraffin: Taken place in our occupations lab. My classmates and I got to experience what it feels like to use paraffin wax!


OT/PT Forum 2014 →

Nov 11, 2014, by Bindi · email · Leave a comment

In our line of work, collaboration between rehab professionals is fundamental, as a client will always need a team to work with. No one therapist can do it all, since there may be needs that the client will have that are out of the scope of one’s profession.

So the Alpha Eta Chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon and the Physical Therapy Student Association of USC got together to bring us the 5th Annual OT/PT Forum to enable the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy students to come together and acquire a better understanding and scope of each one’s profession.

The event began with a wonderful dinner where the students mingled and learnt about their academic courses and how they proceed, the different clinical experiences they have and what OTs and PTs thought of one another ☺. During this time we also had plenty time to look at educational posters from both professions.

Soon after we dove straight into the program with welcome addresses from DR. Florence Clark and Dr. James Gordon the Associate Deans and Division Chairs of Occupational Science & Therapy, and Biokinesiology & Physical Therapy respectively.

There were two case study presentations, the first on Physical Disabilities and the second on Pediatrics. It was interesting to learn how the OTs and PTs worked together on cases where we as soon to be professionals would not have thought to intervene. The one that amazed me most was the collaboration between the 2 professions on a case of cystic fibrosis with a double lung transport.

Great initiative!!! Fight On OTs and PTs!!!


OTAC Conference 2014 →

Nov 10, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

I have been so caught up with school work that I almost forgot to blog about OTAC! Nearly two weeks ago I was able to attend The Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference. I knew this would be a great learning and networking opportunity. I attended the student track both Friday and Saturday, and was able to attend two other sessions of my choice on Sunday. Not only did I enjoy all of the sessions, it was a great opportunity for me to mingle with fellow OT’s, as well as OT students from other programs.

Some of the student track sessions consisted of topics covering stress management, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, mental health within a pediatric setting and making a fine motor tool kit! Did I mention free stuff? You also have the opportunity to meet potential employers, awesome OT related organizations, check out companies with innovative products and receive tons of free stuff like swag bags, pens, earbuds, etc. It was pretty awesome to say the least! I would definitely recommend attending (or volunteering) regardless if you are in OT school or not.

Fortunately, I was able to capture some of the awesomeness on camera!

OTAC 2014 from Leila Abulashin on Vimeo.

Be sure to check out our division Instagram @uscchanosot and the Occupational Therapy Student Council instagram @otsctrojans for photos from the conference and future events!

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