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 | Ali

Ali

OT Generalist!

, by Ali

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Hello! The other student ambassadors and I have been receiving a lot of questions about “concentrating” or “specializing” in certain setting within the field of occupational therapy. The wonderful part of graduate coursework to becoming an occupational therapist is that you gain knowledge and skills to treat every population. You will graduate from the program as a “generalist,” which means you know a little bit of everything. Throughout the program students are able to explore three separate settings through their level I fieldworks in pediatrics, mental health, and adult rehabilitation. Then students will choose two of these settings to be placed in for their level two fieldworks.

If you take a look at the course sequence and the course descriptions you can see that the Entry Level Master’s program exposes you to various setting and provides you with a strong base for your first job!

One way the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is special is the ability to choose electives your final semester of coursework. Although all students from our program will graduate “generalists” this freedom to choose classes that allow you to delve into certain areas, populations, or skills gives us the chance to specialize and learn more about topics we have a particular interest in! See Caroline’s post to learn more about what this final semester could look like!

Ali

Los Angeles Living!

, by Ali

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The ambassadors and I have been receiving a lot of questions about where we live in Los Angeles to commute to the Health Science Campus (HSC) for class! I wanted to shed some light on my living situations and hopefully answer some of your questions.

My first year in the program I lived in a house within a five minute walking distance to the University Park Campus (UPC). I loved living near the main campus of USC with the undergraduate community I still wanted to be a part of. Around the main campus there is the new campus village which has everything from Target to Trader Joes to two Starbucks locations! I took the USC Intercampus Shuttle to and from the main campus to the Health Science Campus each day. The shuttle was convenient and a great place to take a nap or finish up some last minute homework. Living near the main campus was great for me because I loved running around that campus and taking the ten minute drive to downtown LA for some great food and nightlife!  The OT House is also located near UPC, so there was a lot of OT friends nearby which is always great. See Caroline’s post to read more about the OT house!

For my second year I decided to move to Palms, which is a small neighborhood on the Westside of Los Angeles. The rent is affordable and I love being closer to the beach as well as the benefits of learning a whole new part of Los Angeles. My commute ranges from twenty minutes to fifty minutes by car depending on traffic. Although I am from a small suburb in Sacramento, California, I am already used to the traffic that Los Angeles throws at us. I’ve learned that leaving at 7pm versus 5pm can make the world of difference. I either stick around campus after class and study at the library to wait for traffic to die down or I turn on a podcast and use the longer drive as a time to recharge alone!  I also live right on by a metro stop and can take the metro to explore LA easily, which is an added bonus to my relocation. To read more about moving to LA and navigating a this city without a car read Linah’s post! Living in Palms has also been a nice change because it is a little further form downtown so there is less congestion around my apartment and it feels more like a neighborhood!

USC OT students live all over Los Angeles. People live anywhere from across the street in Currie Hall (Pro tip: see Kaitlyn’s post about living in Currie Hall!) to Orange County. Everyone has his or her own solution to find the right space and place in order to be successful in graduate school. If you have any questions about housing please feel free to reach out!

Ali

The Power of Play

, by Ali

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Hello! Since I am originally from Northern California, I am still learning about all that Southern California has to offer with beaches, food, entertainment, and so much more. This is my fifth year living in Los Angeles and each weekend I find something new and fun to do. My friends and I took the two hour drive to Joshua Tree National Park for the first time, and I fell more in love with what this part of the state has to offer. This park is full of the infamous Joshua Trees and huge boulder structures. The landscape was so different from the Redwoods and mountains I grew accustomed to in Northern California. We spent two whole days climbing over boulder structures, crawling into caves, and jumping over cacti. This semester I am signed up for OT 564: Sensory Integration and OT 565: Sensory Integration Intervention, which means that I have been given the opportunity to study play in action and the science of play.

This past weekend was the first time I engaged in play in so long. Joshua Tree provided me an adult play structure to explore a new environment and engage in an occupation for the sake of joy, creativity, and fun! I explored a new environment with friend and was able to experience first-hand the power of play as an occupation even at the age of 23 years old. This weekend I was reminded once again how glad I am to be a student studying occupational therapy at USC. I was able to use my occupational lens to appreciate the meaning that the hiking and climbing brought to my life all in 80 degree weather in Southern California!

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!

Ali

Benefits of Cohorts

, by Ali

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This is our last week of classes with our cohorts, and it has me reflecting on what a special experience it is to study at USC in the Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. As some of the other blogs have talked about, our entire class of Entry-Level Professional Master of Arts degree students is divided into three cohorts. So our 130-140 person class is broken up into 40-45 person sections. Across the span of three semesters, each cohort takes one of the three immersions focused on Adult Rehabilitation, Mental Health, or Pediatrics. The cohorts will rotate through each of these immersion courses over the three semesters.

Although the immersion coursework is with your cohort, the other thread courses such as Therapeutic Use of Self and Clinical Reasoning are with these same individuals in your cohort. The nature of these courses lends cohorts to be very close knit. We explore different practice areas together as well as develop our own sense of self as therapists. We develop our understanding of occupational therapy and build our clinical reasoning together. These semesters are formative in building our professional identities, so each semester we become more and more bonded as classmates and future therapists.

Reflecting on this last week of a rigorous semester, our last lab in Adult Rehabilitation focused on creating a meal together as a class utilizing adaptive equipment in the functional kitchen where our lab class takes place. There was no better way to end three semesters of coursework with my classmates than creating a meal together. As someone who is shy to speak up in a group of 130 people, with my cohort of 45 students who I got to know on a personal level I always felt comfortable asking questions or seeking out help from whomever I happen to sit next to that day. As Bryan references in his post a week ago, our cohort is constantly lifting each other up and checking in with one another.

Here are some pictures of Cohort B in Adult Rehabilitation during our last lab!

Taco Tuesday

Cookie Creations!

Cohort B Ambassadors!

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