Student Ambassador Blog | Serena
My Dream Career
How did I choose OT? Honestly, I am very fortunate that USC has one of the top ranked Occupational Therapy programs in the world because I actually selected USC first. I know it sounds backwards and different but it led me to the profession I always wanted to pursue, yet did not know existed.
Upon graduating from UCLA with my degree in Psychology, I had no idea what I wanted to do except for 3 things: 1) I wanted to go back to school (yea… I’m a nerd and actually love school); 2) I wanted to work with children; 3) I desired to attend USC for graduate school. The research based institution and strong sense of community at USC is what drew me to look into the programs they had to offer. I looked at the vast list and instantly paused and did a quick Google search when I saw Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. I became intrigued and wanted to learn more about the profession so I reached out to USC faculty members Dr. Shelby Surfas, Dr. Beth Pyatak, and Dr. Camille Dieterle, who kindly gave me their time to passionately inform me of the vast settings and populations OTs can serve. The profession further piqued my interest when I noticed the genuine love the professors had for their job and it would only make sense since occupational therapy is ranked #9 as the Best Health Care Job.
I began shadowing and volunteering in schools, private practices, and hospitals where I fell more and more in love with the care that the occupational therapists provided. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jazminne Orozco and Dr. Alex Nishi, I volunteered in the AltaMed general pediatrics clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with a comprehensive behavioral family-lifestyle intervention program, BodyWorks. This is where I found my love for the unique lifestyle intervention occupational therapists can practice. I observed how the intervention brought a unique lens to the healthcare system by helping families prevent and manage chronic diseases by focusing on their habits and daily routines. Empowering, aiding, and educating individuals to live a happier and healthier life by addressing the areas in their life that mattered most to them was what further drew me into OT and confirmed my commitment to the field.
I could go on and on about why I chose OT because I am absolutely in love with the profession. Since studying OT for the past year, my interest has expanded to treating the entire lifespan. With every class I attend, I seem to learn about a new area of practice that I could see myself going into. I truly feel like it is a dream come true to be able to pursue a profession that is dedicated to helping people do what they want, need, and love to do. It’s so rewarding to be able to place the client first and acknowledge their health with a holistic lens. If you have any comments, questions, or clarifications, please feel free to reach out or comment below!