Student Ambassador Blog
Aug 24, 2017, by Caroline
I really enjoy studying occupational therapy at USC, and am so excited to share my experiences with you this year. For my first blog post, however, I want to share a little bit about how I got here, starting with how I learned about occupational therapy (OT).
In the eighth grade, I was assigned a big, scary research project, appropriately named the “Eighth Grade Project.” I was to choose any topic, conduct research on it, and write a paper on what I learned. I chose to research Autism. While learning all about Autism, I stumbled upon occupational therapy as a profession that could help individuals with autism. My research described occupational therapy and how it could help individuals with autism with social skills, sensory processing, development, and so much more! My eighth-grade self thought that was super cool, and decided right then and there that’s what I wanted to do in the future. Believe it or not, I never changed my mind!
Through high school and college, I learned more and more about occupational therapy as a profession. In high school, I conducted my “Senior Project” (also quite appropriately named) shadowing an OT at a pediatric clinic, seeing what I had read about for so long. In college, I observed OT in a nursing home and at an outpatient clinic for adults. Throughout my observation experiences, I was amazed by both the breadth and depth of the profession, and knew that OT was for me. I also liked that it was a helping profession, would allow me to work with people, and that every day at work could look different.
I could write a novel about what I love about OT, and I hope you’ll see a lot of that come through in my blogs this year. One thing that stands out to me, though, is that after a year of studying OT, I haven’t yet learned about a practice setting, diagnosis, or subset of OT that I can’t envision myself working in or with. All of the studying, projects, and presentations don’t feel like a chore, because I genuinely enjoy what I’m learning, the professors I’m learning from, and the experiences I’m having in the program. I love learning about OT, and, in particular, I love learning about OT at USC. I’m so happy to finally become the OT that my eighth-grade self dreamed of, and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and my love for OT with you over the next year! Thanks for reading!
Aug 24, 2017, by Bryan
I began and completed undergrad without ever hearing of the words Occupational Therapy in combination. Growing up in an immigrant family, my parents always emphasized the importance of pursuing a career with a stable income, regardless of one’s passions. While I cannot thank them enough for working hard to establish a foundation for me to pursue everything I have thus far, I was at war because of my inability to suppress my love for the arts and more creative endeavors.
In order to appease both sides, my daily schedule at UCLA looked like: 8:00 am organic chemistry lecture, 9:30am - 4:00pm internship at movie production company, 5:00pm - 7:00pm physics lecture and discussion, 7:30pm - 8:30pm Improv Comedy class in Westwood, 9:00pm - 11:00pm CareExtenders hospital volunteering. My heart, as well as my schedule, was clearly divided. In the end, I knew I wanted to help others and was told throughout childhood that medicine was the best (and only) way to do so. On the flip-side, I loved storytelling and wanted to become a screenwriter, helping others smile, laugh, and cry as they saw chapters of their own journeys unfold onscreen.
The “creative” side won and I officially declared English as my major and dropped pre-med during my 3rd year. Whether it was trauma from scraping a single point on my physics midterm by writing -9.8 m/s^2 or from unlucky hospital shadowing experiences, I was ready to move away from health care into the romanticized world of marketing and advertising (#madmen).
After a few years working as a copywriter in a number of unique specialties (wedding vendor, mobile app, etc.), the long-suppressed existential questions of purpose began to brew anew. What do I really care about? What do I want to do for the next 40 years of my life? While I totally understand that our careers cannot be a complete (or adequate) representation of our values and passions, I always hoped to enter a vocation I really believed in. For me the pillars of a satisfying career seemed to be: caring for others, building relationships, and financial stability.
In a matter of beautiful fate, during this time my friends all started suggesting pursuing Occupational Therapy. I remember trying to explain this new career path to my parents in broken Korean . . . they still don’t know what it is (though interactions with the Korean international students from Global Initiatives helped a lot!) Honestly, there is so much more to share on how I have been consistently affirmed in my decision to dive into this evolving and exciting profession (more to come in future blogs hopefully), but I am just grateful take part in this opportunity to care for others in creative and meaningful ways.
Aug 24, 2017, by Ali
I want to begin this blog by explaining the story about how I knew occupational therapy was meant for me. I have always been a good student: I turn assignments in on time and start studying for exams weeks ahead. I have always been a good roommate: completing my assigned chores before the chore chart changes. I was a good athlete: never missed practice and worked out on my own. But not until I discovered occupational therapy would I have called myself passionate.
Throughout high school my interests were vast and choosing a college major seemed near impossible. My favorite subjects were art history, health, and biology. My favorite after-school activity was assistant coaching my local Special Olympics swimming and basketball teams. I loved learning about people and engaging with them one on one. When I was applying to colleges, I chose a different major for each university. I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career, but I knew I wanted to help people. I chose USC for its commitment to scholarship and sense of community. I was dying to be a part of the Trojan family the moment my acceptance letter came.
Fast forward to fall of my freshman year at USC, my major was undecided. Each day I would meet new people studying the most interesting things. I found myself attending classes that I was not enrolled in just to learn more about what USC had to offer. One day, I found myself in Kim Morris-Eggleston’s “OT 310: Creativity Workshop,” where I heard the definition of OT for the first time. I was sold.
I fell in love with the idea of a client-centered therapy that focuses on adapting and fixing problems that arise to help clients engage in whatever activity that has meaning to them. Helping people live their happiest and healthiest life, day in and day out, sounded like a dream come true. Occupational therapy is hopeful, creative, and challenging: everything I was looking for in a career. It is not just something I am studying; it is part of who I am.
I applied to the Bachelor’s to Master’s program the spring of my sophomore year and have not looked back since. Being a part of the USC Chan Division of Occupational Therapy for both my undergraduate and graduate course work has shaped how I view the world. I cannot wait to see what the second year of my Master’s degree has in store.
Aug 19, 2017, by JessicaP
This summer working as a student ambassador has been one of my most memorable experiences at USC so far. From giving tours to prospective students to going to Meet USC events to speak to high school students, I have been busy spreading OT love everywhere.
I am even more confident now than I was three months ago that I am pursuing the perfect profession for me. The past few months I have learned more about the diversity within OT and all of the opportunities we have as occupational therapy students. Now when someone asks me, “What is OT?” - I always have an answer, and I could probably go on talking about OT for hours.
Next Monday I start the master’s portion of my academic career, beginning with the mental health practice immersion. I can’t wait to push myself even further to begin shaping myself as the occupational therapist I know USC will help me become. Being apart of the OT family at USC has opened doors to so many things and I know it will continue to do so for a lifetime.
I hope that everyone has a great fall semester and fight on!!
Aug 17, 2017, by JessicaP
This week has been an exciting one for our new Bachelor to Master’s Occupational Therapy freshman. We are so happy to welcome 11 new Trojans into the family.
OT students at USC Convocation
BS-MA Class of 2021 with their amazing academic advisor, Joanne Park
Class of 2021 (and master’s class of 2022) fighting on!