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 | Joyce



, by Joyce

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Have you ever wondered who manages the Chan Instagram and Facebook profiles? How about our Twitter and YouTube handles?
Did you even KNOW we have those platforms? Many people get access to our channels, accounts, and platforms. But it’s been a great joy and opportunity to take the lead on a majority of the content that gets posted on our social media.

So… what is it that I really do? Do I just go around taking pictures of people and posting online? To a certain degree YES that is exactly what I do! One of my duties as a student ambassador is to post various events that happen in school. This can range from special speakers to student-led philanthropy events. What I really enjoy about this part of the job is the fact that I can use my love for social media for school and get paid for it!

Snap, Edit, Post!
A majority of the social media is done on the go. When there is an event that’s going on at school, I’ll try to sneak into it for a split second to snap some pictures. If I can’t be at the event physically, I’ll reach out to a classmate who is at the event to take some pictures for me. Then it’s about using editing apps like Snapseed or VCSO to create a cohesive theme like this:

Then straight to posting we go! Sometimes, I enjoy using InstaStory to feature multiple photos rather than posting all of them in one post. I’ll also have other ambassadors or my boss texting me throughout the week asking me if I can post something to our social media handles. I love being on the go because social media is something that I enjoy partaking in.

My camera roll will end up looking like this:

And I’ll receive messages like this LOL:

For students who submitted their information and pictures to an email address and found themselves on the Chan website… well that’s me! I love participating in this project because I get to read a myriad of students’ journey to occupational therapy as well as fun and quirky facts about them. Our program is filled with over a 100 students alone in the entry level master’s program! It’s hard to meet everyone but in this way I get to see a little snippet of the people I study with!

It’s all about the Insights
A hidden part of my social media role is pulling data from all the posts that we publish on both Instagram and Facebook. This is done mainly behind the scenes through each handle’s specific analytic software. By pulling the information, I have a clear idea of the kinds of posts that receive the most attention/likes/comments/shares. Then I can focus my energy in creating similar kinds of content!

I never thought that I could get paid to do social media stuff in OT school! It truly has been a fun journey!! Through my interaction with the official Instagram and Facebook handles, I have also been able to speak with people all over the world who are interested in our program!



, by Joyce

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You got accepted into the program.
You committed. 
But now you need to start putting this dream into action.

I was overwhelmed when I first began this process. I was late to the OT house registration deadline and scrambled for housing in the first 2 months of the program. Picture this, 22 year old female moving from NYC to LA with 2 suitcases and no housing. Atrocious mess? You betcha. Luckily I had a few friends out here who let me crash on their couch for a couple of weeks. I moved 5 times before settling on a place for my first year of grad school and moved again for my second year of grad school.

So I get it. Housing is important and if your housing situation is stressful, honestly, it’s impossible to study effectively. So here are some of the tips that I gained from my experience and would like to share with you all:

1. OT House – this is the most commonly discussed housing option. There are a few blog posts about it already so I won’t cover it but check out Caroline’s Post if you’re interested.

2. Currie Hall- also another highly popular living space that is a 5 minute walk from classes. There are few blog posts about it here so I won’t waste your time on these.

Now that we covered those- here are some housing options that are not as widely discussed. Note- I personally chose to live near the main campus (UPC) as I found it more accessible to stores like Trader Joe’s and Target. So most of the following information will be for housing near the main campus. I broke it down by budget:

ICON PLAZA - 3584 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Most commonly rented by undergraduate students, I did find a community of graduate students here. If you’re all about the amenities then this place might be the place for you. There is an indoor gym, game room, and multiple study rooms to utilize. Most commonly, students will have their own bedroom while sharing the living space, bathroom, and kitchen area with others. There are various floorplans available so you can browse if this is a place of interest!

~$900/month for a SINGLE BED SPACE or ~$1810/month for a PRIVATE 1 bed/1 bath
UNIVERSITY GATEWAY 3335 S Figueroa St. Los Angeles, CA 90007

This is another popular housing choice for students who want to be near campus. The pricing will really depend on your preference of having a private single bedroom apartment or if you’re open to sharing a room with another student (2 beds in 1 room) which will cut down costs. This complex also has a variety of amenities including a fitness center, study rooms, rooftop terraces, and a sun & soak deck. Underneath the apartment buildings you’ll find places to eat like Subways, Blaze Pizza, Cream, and a CVS. I lived here for about a month throughout the summer program. But their leasing comes to an end at the end of July and I didn’t feel like living here with other undergraduate students during my grad school year. But I will admit that the amenities and location was great.

Starting $899/month
The Lorenzo- 325 W Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90007

Similar to the University Gateway, The Lorenzo is another popular student housing option mainly for undergraduate students though I have had met many graduate students who opt to live here. The pricing depends on whether you want a bed space vs. a private bedroom, the latter being more pricey. The Lorenzo also comes with a variety of amenities including a fitness center, study rooms, rooftop sundeck, and swimming pools.

The three apartment complexes above all come furnished.

The following information is now other leasing companies that many USC students use, both undergrad and grad students alike. Some may be furnished while others aren’t.

STUHO manages many different buildings with a variety of floorplans. This is also the leasing company that I am currently leasing from! With this company I found a private bedroom with a small kitchenette. I share bathrooms with other students on the floor but avoid roommate drama about cleaning because the company has a cleaning team that comes in once a week to tidy up all shared spaces. This company has a variety of options that you can explore to find a space that you’re comfortable with. All properties are located close to main campus. In my house alone, I found undergraduate, graduate, and even PhD students.

First Choice Housing 
Though I have never leased from this company, I have met with many students who do rent from them. Similar to the STUHO there are a variety of properties to look into. If you can recruit other graduate students you can land a property to share together!

If you’re not interested in living near any of the campuses, getting to school can still be doable especially if you are without a car (like me!). Just make sure to live near a metro line (preferable the Red or Purple) that will take you to Union Station. Because from Union Station, you can take the USC shuttle bus directly to campus (both main and HSC campus). A few popular areas are Silverlake/EchoPark, Koreatown, and Downtown LA. If you do have a car and don’t mind the commute, many students elect to live in Pasadena/Alhambra. To find these housing spots, I have found that and have some great listings to explore. Of course these are spots that you would most likely want to check out before signing a lease. If you can create some free time in your schedule before you start the program and you’re in the LA area, I would highly suggest blocking out a day just to explore housing options. It’s could be chaotic in a sense where you’ll probably be driving/walking a lot but you can have many viewings in one day (many which last 5-10 min).

Housing can be a stressful thing to deal with. If you have any specific questions/concerns, I am more than happy to discuss details with you! Feel free to email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Don’t be afraid to reach out as I definitely wished I did when I started the program… would have been in the same situation but less stressed with more information. Good luck!



Some People are Worth Melting For

, by Joyce

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This winter break I decided to do something a little bit different. Instead of flying back home to NYC, I decided to spend it in LA with the friends I made here. The entire city felt a little bit different. I wasn’t rushing to class or to the clinic. I had more time to actually clean my room and my loads of laundry. I could stay up watching midnight movies because there was nothing to wake up to the next morning. No studying… nothing.

I’m not exactly sure what my plans after graduation will be so I wanted to take advantage of this city while I still had the chance. Looking back, I was shocked to see how my life in LA filled up with a strong supportive network of beautiful souls.

Here are some highlights:

-Admission Holiday Lunch

As many of you might understand, it’s almost impossible to get everyone together in one place for one meal. So it was heartwarming to get together with the admissions team for a sit down meal outside of school. We went to San Antonio Winery for lunch and it was a great start to the holiday festivities as we engaged in conversations that were non-work related, ate great food, and just got to know each other a little bit more.

-Cabin Fever

With my closest OT sisters, I went on a cabin trip to Big Bear Lake. This was my first time there! We rented out an Airbnb and did absolutely nothing but chilled. We watched Lord of the Rings and Moana. We cooked KBBQ, tacos, and yes… a kale salad. We baked cookies at 10pm because we wanted to. The snow was melting during our stay, but it was nice to get away from the city for a week to breathe in fresh air and enjoy the stars at night!

-Mario-Kart IRL

No I did not win… I went go-karting this winter break and I realized that it was not as easy as they make it look like in the games. I raced twice. The first time, I wasn’t sure what to exactly to expect so I was very anxious. The go-karts themselves go up to 40MPH and I do not bode well with speed. I was that person… blocking everyone else… holding people up… oh and did I mention I rammed right into the wall? The second time around, I realized that I wanted to just enjoy the ride and thought of it as a leisure ride. I let the fast speeders go past me. I don’t mind being last place!

Winter break was a nice time to enjoy and explore the city of Los Angeles without the schedule and structure of school/work. However, I’m really excited for the new things that are happening this spring semester, like externships, electives, graduating… but that’s for a later post!


Can I do Grad School?

, by Joyce

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This was a big question that I find many people asking themselves. Whether you’re contemplating graduate school right after undergrad or going back after years of not studying, it seems to be a daunting choice to give up a salary to study full time.

Grad school is truly unique in its own way, way more so than undergrad ever was. From simply a developmental perspective, we are still finding ourselves in undergrad… our identity, who we are and what we want to be. However, in grad school you’re one step closer to consolidating the path in which you want to embark on.

Personally, I struggled a lot with low self esteem in college, shape shifting to match the peers around me and truly plagued with the disease to please. It wasn’t until senior year of college where I found comfort in being myself. Chasing after OT only reaffirmed the comfort I found within myself which is why I decided to pursue grad school immediately. I did not want to take a gap year because I was so sure on pursuing OT that I did not want to wait any longer. In that way, because I was used to the flow of school, exams, and papers… academically it wasn’t a difficult transition. That being said, it wasn’t an easy social transition. I had to pick up everything I had on the east coast and move to the other side of the country. I was couch hopping the first couple of weeks. I had a two week break between the day of my undergraduate graduation and the beginning of the graduate program. I definitely found myself burnt out many times and questioned whether this was the right choice I made.

But I am a firm believer of finishing what you started. Grad school was daunting at first. You meet many students who are just as passionate as you- which can be inspirational or scary. It is a game of perspective, will you view them as peers to learn from or simply competition to hide from? What’s great about OT school is that the program begins with our faculty encouraging us to learn from each other, to use each other to expand and challenge our clinical reasoning. Reflecting now, I’m glad that I made the choice to come to USC when I did because it gave me the opportunity to make life-long friends and receive strong mentorship with many of the faculty that went through the program themselves.

If you’re hesitating on applying to grad school, I would start with reflecting on why. Is it fear? Fear of school or fear of starting something new? One thing that is for sure is that no one goes through grad school alone, we do it with the support of our friends, professors, and social support!


Can I Work In Grad School?

, by Joyce

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My answer to you would be that it depends. I know, everyone’s favorite answer to hear. However, I say it depends because it truly is dependent on the kind of learner you are and how efficient you are in managing your time.

In the beginning of the program (summer session) I chose not to work because of the intensity of the program (M-F 8AM-4PM). In addition to the academic and coursework, I was also couch hopping because I literally picked up my entire life and moved across the country. There was a lot of instability and uncertainty during that summer and if I were to add that extra dimension of work, I knew it would take a physical, mental, and emotional toll.

Thankfully I survived the summer program and in the fall semester, I began my Adult Rehabilitation Immersion. Each practice immersion varies but the Adult Rehabilitation one is known for its intense studies in various medical diagnoses and conditions. Therefore, I decided that this semester would not be the best semester to start working because I would much rather absorb and obtain this information to the best of my abilities without any other distractions. Not working and taking out additional loans opened up space in my schedule to read my notes and study a few extra hours.

It was when I began the Mental Health Immersion that I felt that there was enough room and space in my life to add a part time job. Therefore, I began to work as a hostess at a Korean BBQ restaurant. My shifts required me to be in on the weekends. I had a great time, it was nice to be involved in something non-OT related. Don’t get me wrong, I love the profession and I love the people that I interact with but working at a restaurant brings about a different kind of aura. I met many international travelers (as our restaurant is rated 4.5 stars on yelp and highly popular amongst tourists!). I enjoyed the customer service aspect and even casually conversing with people as they walked in and out of the restaurant.

I came home pooped from standing all day but it was nice to be able to make some money and use a different set of skills. So to answer your question, yes it is possible to work while you study. But in the midst of it, remember that you are still a student first and that your academics takes priority. Something that I have learned to do is weighing the pros and cons of the situation. Is it worth losing three hours of sleep every night to work a few hours and do homework to earn maybe $50? I guess it would depend on the kind of part time job you decide to pick up as well. I have classmates who babysit for higher rates for shorter times and others who work longer shifts in the food industry but making most of their income on tip. 

So, is it doable? Yes, but it depends.

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