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 | Evan

Evan

Having a Baby While in Grad School

, by Evan

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The biggest thing going on in my life at the moment is that my wife and I are expecting a baby girl this January.  It will be our second (we also have a 2.5-year-old boy) and we are grateful that all signs so far point toward a healthy pregnancy.  When sharing this news with my student colleagues, I get mixed responses.  Of course, everyone is excited first and foremost.  But then for some the excitement melts away into a touch of concern.  One classmate last week even went so far to ask, “How are you going to manage it?”

My response is always the same: “Having babies in graduate school doesn’t have to be more difficult than having a baby with a full-time job!”  In fact, in some ways it may even be easier.  Let me explain:

USC CHAN OFFERS AN INCREDIBLY SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT – most of my teachers have families of their own and have been very supportive about my journey into the occupational role of being a parent.  Even though I am a male and not physically carrying a child, they recognize the importance of my presence and involvement during the critical moments of pregnancy, the birthing process, and early childhood.  It’s wonderful to know that I will always be able to be there for my family without incurring unreasonable academic penalty.

THERE ARE OPTIONS – while I am electing not to take time off school, it was made clear to me from the beginning that it was an option.  Students in the past have chosen to take a semester off class, or delayed a level II fieldwork, and then were able to pick back up right where they left off several months down the road.  This is also true with regard to my student job.  I am so grateful that my supervisor has given me some flexibility on hours during the month of birth.

BALANCE CAN BE ACHIEVED – of course grad school is academically rigorous, but I honestly find my live-work balance to be healthier now than it was during the years working a full-time job in the film business.  Most days I get home between 5-6pm and have the opportunity to eat dinner, give baths, and put my son to bed.  This simply would not have been possible in my old job.  People always ask when I have time for schoolwork – let me tell you there’s plenty of time after bedtime for homework, especially when you can’t really leave the house!

So for me, having a baby in grad school is doable, and even preferable to trying to manage it while working full-time at my previous job.  If anyone out there is hesitant about OT school because they are ready to start a family, I’d encourage them to not feel held back by those fears.  Rest assured those feelings are normal – I had them too – but I’m here to tell you it’s possible to earn a master’s degree with a young family. (and even have fun in the process!)

Evan

2018 OTAC Conference Student Knowledge Bowl

, by Evan

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This weekend is the annual conference of the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) and I am having the time of my life.  What a privilege to spend a weekend learning more about unique and meaningful applications of occupational therapy from future colleagues, and spending time with my professors and fellow students in a professional setting.  This morning was the annual student knowledge bowl, and I’m happy to report USC had a great showing.  We took 2nd place overall, from a diversified field of many OT and OTA programs across California, and I’m so proud to have been part of the team.  The format of the competition utilized past questions from the NBCOT licensing exam, so in addition to being a lot of fun the session proved to be a valuable learning experience for participants and audience members alike.  I want to especially thank Tracy, Jesse, and Joyce for waking up early and representing our school.  Fight On!

Evan

OTAC Conference Around the Corner

, by Evan

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Every year, the Occupational Therapy Association of California holds a state-wide conference.  This year the conference will be held Oct 25-28 just down the street from us in Pasadena, CA.  OTAC Conference is one of the highlights of my year, not just because I’m the OTAC liaison for my 2019 graduating class, but because I truly believe in the mission of OTAC and am proud of how the organization serves our profession.

OTAC is a membership organization, meaning that the bulk of the operating budget is directly gathered from current professional and student memberships.  Here at USC, the student body elected to require all currently registered students maintain active memberships, and I am so proud that we do so.  The money raised across the state fosters a wide variety of leadership and professional development initiatives, but most importantly it is utilized for legislative advocacy efforts. AB221 (Update of the Occupational Therapy Practice Act), which was signed into law by Governor Brown several weeks ago, is a recent success story of these dollars at work.  I encourage you to learn more about the OT Practice Act and how it has been amended to reflect the modern-day needs of patients and the current services offered by occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.  These are the important issues of our day. 

So, for those of you considering a career in Occupational Therapy, I cordially invite you to conference to learn more about our profession.  For those of you who are currently students, I invite you to conference to learn about ways in which to become a more competent practitioner, advocate, and future leader in the field.  And for those of you who are already licensed professionals, I encourage you to come to conference with an open mind (there’s always something new to learn), pass on your considerable knowledge to future practitioners, and keep your OTAC membership current! 

The stakes are high.  I don’t believe it’s an overstatement to suggest that the future of our profession will be shaped by how directly students and professionals continue to engage with our state and national professional organizations.

Evan

HSC Master Plan and Beautification Project

, by Evan

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If you’re like me, you can’t walk past a construction site without wondering what’s going up.  Here at HSC (USC Health Science Campus) there’s a lot to wonder about!  We are fortunate to be in school at a time when the university and is significantly investing in infrastructure, so I thought I’d take a moment to share with you a little about some of the projects we students walk by on a daily basis.

Street Beautification Project – in process; intended to make the campus more publicly accessible and pedestrian friendly.  Improvements include wider sidewalks for a safer environment and more usable public space, new vegetation including drought tolerant flora and 200 new trees, and undergrounding of overhead utilities.

Norris Healthcare Consultation Center – 114,000 square foot clinical building housing USC Institute of Urology, an infusion center treating both cancer and non-cancer patients, a women’s specialty care and breast imaging center, the Transplant Institute and the Outpatient Surgery Center.  Just opened in January 2018!

Hyatt House – A new 200 bed hotel with extended stay suites!  Facilities will include ground floor retail with a sit down restaurant.  Its convenient location right next to the San Pablo Parking structure and Curry Residential Complex will make it an ideal place for OT Families to stay when in town for the white coat ceremony.

And this is just the beginning.  If you’d like to learn more about the HSC master plan feel free to check it out here, and keep in mind this isn’t even inclusive of all the work being done to county owned buildings at LAC-USC hospital right next door!  LAC-USC master plan can be viewed here.  It’s an exciting time to be a student at USC.

Evan

PLAY

, by Evan

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School is really the focus of my family at the moment.  As I begin the last year of my master’s program my son is beginning his first year of preschool.  We both get dressed in the morning, have some cereal together, and make our way to class.  What we do there, however, is a little bit different.  While I spend most of my day engaged in lively discussion with professors and collaboration with student colleagues, his main occupation at school is play - and this is just as it should be.  Fred Rogers once said “play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children, play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood.”  To my knowledge Mr. Rogers wasn’t an OT, but with this statement he sure sounds like one!  I love the sentiment, and am filled with gratitude when I consider what the occupation of play still brings to my life even though my own childhood is firmly in the rearview mirror.  Whether playing with trains on the floor when I get home from work, “racing” to see who can put their shoes on faster, or playing the “quiet game” at church, I relish the opportunity to be pulled into the moment by my son’s insatiable appetite for play and am often impressed with how functional it can be for us both.  Dr. Kingsley, my pediatric immersion professor, always encouraged us to frame therapeutic interventions into the context of play and now it’s easy for me to understand why.  How cool to be in OT school learning things that are not just important for my future career, but also contribute to my being a mindful, deliberate, patient, and informed parent.

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