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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Bryan

Winter Break Recap / Favorite Occupations

, by Bryan

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Going into my final semester of the Master’s program here at USC, I wanted to post a walk through of winter break through the lens of a few of my favorite occupations. Hope you enjoy!








Caroline

Getting into the Swing of Spring!

, by Caroline

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Spring semester is officially here! I’m definitely still getting back into the swing of classes and schoolwork after a long winter break. I had exactly a month off – and I definitely used it! Ali made the point that this may be the last long school break we’ll have, so I’m glad that I filled it with so many meaningful occupations! I was able to visit a friend from college in Nashville, TN (the country music fan in me was over the moon), spend Christmas with my family back home in North Carolina, and then finished it off with a family vacation in Hawaii filled with hiking, snorkeling, and sight-seeing.  Check out a couple of pictures from Hawaii - my family and I hiked Manoa Falls in Honolulu; I also enjoyed relaxing by the beach, and I even tried Standup Paddleboarding for the first time!

My family and I hiked Manoa Falls in Honolulu.

I spent some time relaxing by the beach, and I even tried Standup Paddleboarding for the first time!

Although leaving the beautiful beaches of Hawaii was tough, I’m excited to be back at school for this final semester in the Master’s program. Up until now, all of my courses were selected for me, as I worked my way through the Entry-Level Master’s Program curriculum. This semester, however, is unique because I got to select elective courses to fill my schedule. There are two required courses: OT540: Leadership Capstone and OT545: Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science that all second year students take in the spring.

The rest of my schedule is filled with the electives of my choosing! I see myself going into Pediatrics, so I chose elective courses related to Pediatric practice. I’m taking OT 564: Sensory Integration and OT 565: Sensory Integration Interventions, which count for part of the educational coursework to become certified in Sensory Integration. It’s unique that I’m able to start working towards this certification as part of my Master’s Curriculum, so I’m really grateful for this opportunity. I also get to learn from Dr. Erna Blanche, who studied Sensory Integration under Dr. A. Jean Ayres (who is basically an OT celebrity because she developed Sensory Integration Theory). In OT 567: Contemporary Issues: Occupational Therapy in Early Intervention, I get to learn about OT for children birth-3 years old, with an emphasis on the importance of family-centered and culturally-relevant practice. Finally, I’m taking OT 575: Dysphagia Across the Lifespan: Pediatrics Through Geriatrics. This class is all about swallowing disorders – I already got to look into my classmates’ throats to look for certain anatomical landmarks on day 1, so you could say it’s going well.

Because second years are all taking elective courses, we’re no longer divided up by cohort. Everyone is mixed up into different combinations, based on the classes we chose for ourselves. I definitely miss the familiarity and comfort of the 45ish students in my cohort, but I also value hearing opinions from different classmates.

It’s already shaping up to be a busy and eventful semester, but I’m just trying to take in as much as I can and enjoy these final few months (both in class and outside of class) with my classmates and friends before we all move on to the next step in our OT careers!


I celebrated the start of the semester with brunch with friends, surrounded by LA rooftop views.


I took advantage of the long weekend to hike Runyon Canyon, with a great view of the Downtown LA Skyline.

Looking forward to more fun LA outings throughout the semester - gotta fill my No-Homework-Saturdays somehow, right wink

Erika

My Encounter with Cookies and Kinship at CHP

, by Erika

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Every day, hundreds of USC faculty, staff, OT students, PT students, and Pharmacy students, wander the halls, offices, and patios of the Center for the Health Professions Building (CHP). It’s the hub where we, as OT students, spend most of our time in the program. It houses our classrooms, labs, auditoriums, outdoor patios, and other spaces that facilitate our learning.

We have one particular room at CHP that most students unofficially call “the microwave room.” Between 12-12:20p, you will find 8 or so microwaves buzzing as hungry OT and PT students nuke their lunches. There are also communal tables in this room where you could eat your lunch, study, or catch up with friends. This is where I had a beautiful unexpected encounter with Sharon*.

I was about to take a bite of my green beans and meatless ground beef stir fry (don’t be hatin’ on my veg game) leftovers when I hear a voice: “That smells AMAZING!” I look over and I see a sweet woman with the gentlest smile munching on her apple. I thank her and humbly tell her that it tastes as good as it smells and we get to talking. I find out she works in a research office on the 2nd floor of the building. Somehow, we arrive on the topic of cookies and she asks me if I like them.

“HELL YES.”

She asks me what kind.

“Chocolate chip.”

She asks me if I like nuts.

“No way.”

She says I remind her of her son who likes his cookies just the way I do and asks if I’ll be on campus on Friday.

“Yes!”

Without hesitation, she says she’s going to bake me a batch and bring them on Friday. My eyes get huge and my heart warm. I tell her that I have a big batch of my green beans and meatless ground beef dish and that if she’s open to it, I’ll bring her a lil lunch in exchange. She says that would be amazing.

Friday rolls around and I walk up to her office in CHP. She’s delighted to see me and we do our lil exchange. The cookies look perfect in every way - moist, chewy, made with love. I ask her if I can taste one now and she says of course! I take a bite and immediate let out a “Hoooooly that’s good.” She smiles sweetly at me and says, “I like you. How do I keep you in my pocket all day?”

This beautiful encounter left me with such gratitude and joy. Knowing that humans like Sharon exist who choose to connect with others not just out of politeness but out of genuine curiosity and kinship inspires me to implement these qualities in my practice as an OT.

Sharon’s kindness reminds me of a book I read over the winter break called “Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship” by Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention program in the world. He speaks about our deep interconnectedness as humans despite our varying backgrounds, experiences, ethnicities, etc and that once we realize that we share in kinship with strangers and loved ones alike, we can start to truly love. Here is a powerful interview with Greg Boyle if you are interested in learning more:

Priest Responds To Gang Members’ ‘Lethal Absence Of Hope’ With Jobs, And Love

As I left Sharon’s office, I told her I’d be back to return her tupperware.

In true Sharon fashion with her perpetually giving heart, she yelled back at me, “Not unless you want it refilled!”

*All names mentioned in this blogpost are pseudonyms.

Ali

Winter Break: Perks of still being a student!

, by Ali

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Hello and Happy New Year! After the stress of finals, we had four weeks off from school to rest in order to come back for spring semester rejuvenated. Being a graduate student comes with doing homework every night after class, studying over the weekends, and managing your schedule around group projects and your professors’ office hours. Although being a student has some less than desirable aspects, one major perk of still being a student is having breaks! Anyone that knows me will tell you Christmas is my favorite time of year. There is no chance you will find me listening to anything other than Christmas music or sitting in my room without a holiday scented candle lit. This year I was especially grateful for the time off and the chance to fully immerse myself in the holiday season!

This extended period of time to travel and rest is something that I was reminded time and time again not to take for granted. This time next year I could be hitting the ground running in a full time job with a limited number of vacation days, so I took extra care this break to enjoy the full holiday season. I had four weeks to visit my family across the country, go to New York for the first time, celebrate my birthday at home in northern California, be with my family for Christmas, ski in Lake Tahoe for the New Year, and spend some time in Los Angeles enjoying LA winter! I engaged in some of my favorite occupations that get put on the back burner when I am busy such as baking, reading for leisure, and gardening!

I am excited to be back at school for new classes and open to all the new experiences this semester might have in store!

Kaitlyn

Currie Hall (No Affiliation with Food nor the NBA)

, by Kaitlyn

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After high school, I moved out to downtown Los Angeles to attend USC for undergrad and lived there for four years. Once I decided that I was going to go continue at USC (but this time on the Health Sciences Campus), I knew that it was the perfect time to move and make a (slight) change.

I am a big believer in growing wherever you are planted. Thus, finding the right place to live is imperative to me in so many ways. Is it reasonably close to friends and family? Is it safe? Is it comfortable? Are there opportunities for socialization in the nearby area? Are there good restaurants (huge food lover here, see: here) around?! There are a lot of considerations when finding a new place to live and I wanted to make the right choice as I embarked on this new journey.

I had a few options in mind, but I ultimately decided to move into an apartment building located on the USC Health Sciences Campus called Currie Hall. I moved there on the first day it opened, so I’ve been living there for about a year and a half now. If you’re interested in moving in, the following are some pros and cons.

Pros:
- The “commute” - My commute is about a 5-minute walk across the street to the Center for Health Professions building. It sure beats sitting in traffic for an hour, that’s for sure!
- The residents - Almost everyone in the building is a student on the USC Health Sciences Campus. Thus, you’ll run into medical, physical therapy, and pharmacy (just to name a few) students all the time! It’s in the norm to see people walking around in scrubs and/or a white coat. It’s a great experience to be in such a interdisciplinary housing setting filled with future healthcare professionals! I personally live with a pharmacy student and a medical student!
- Safety - I feel very safe in this building. There are many “checkpoints” at every doorway/entryway where your key is required. DPS is also only just a phone call away if they’re ever needed!
- Proximity to “new” cities - I frequent the Arts District, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Downtown, and Pasadena quite frequently because they are all within close driving distance (this also means cheap Ubers/Lyfts)! All of the cities I just mentioned have different “personalities”, so it’s nice to feel like I’m still exploring new places around LA. *Tip: Arts District, Silver Lake, and Echo Park have amazing hidden gems when it comes to restaurants so definitely keep your options open! My current favorites are Mohawk Bend and Cliff’s Edge (again, big food lover here).
- The apartment & building itself - Like I mentioned before, I moved in the first day it opened so it is BRAND NEW. Some notable perks: an in-unit washer/dryer (a life saver!), a balcony, your own bathroom, your own walk-in closet, furnished when you move in, a gym, a BBQ grill/patio area, a pool and jacuzzi, study rooms, etc. The staff is also great as well!

Cons:
- Far from the beach - Unfortunately, it is far from the beach, which is one of my greatest loves! With traffic, it takes me about 45 minutes to get to the coastline. I also have friends that live on the west side of Los Angeles (i.e. Santa Monica, Culver City) so it can be inconvenient at times to get to them.
- Everything is within some kind of driving distance - Although it is the most convenient option when it comes to school, it is not the most convenient when it comes to going to the store or running errands. For example, Trader Joe’s and Target are about a 15 minute drive away in the neighboring cities. Sometimes this feels a bit isolating, but it hasn’t bothered me too much because I have a car. 
- Holiday Breaks=Ghost Town - It is eerily empty when winter, summer, and spring breaks roll around because most residents go home for the holidays!
- “Dorm”-like? - I have to agree and disagree on this one. Yes, it does feel like a dorm in that everyone there is a student but we are also all graduate students. This means that we’re all busy—studying, going off to clinical rotations, working… you name it! We’ve got a lot of responsibilities on our plate so you definitely won’t get those freshman dorm experiences you had in college.

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I may have picked the closest option to campus, but don’t be afraid to venture out as well! I have many friends who commute from neighboring cities like Silver Lake, Echo Park, Alhambra, Pasadena, and Downtown. I know people who commute from Culver City, Manhattan Beach, and Santa Monica as well! My best piece of advice: Determine what’s important to you and pick a place you know you will be happy in.

If interested in learning more about Currie Hall, click here.

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