I can’t believe that I’m writing my last blog. I am graduating tomorrow.
Is this real life? Yes, I tell myself that it is really happening. I’ll be graduating from USC once again, but now, for my Master’s. It seems like yesterday that I was in undergrad, not completely sure what I wanted to do with my life.
I have found a profession that I’m excited to be a part of and that I know I could empower others while empowering myself.
This year has gone by so fast, and as I’m reflecting on the year, I’m actually feeling a bit sad. I have met so many great and genuine people, and I truly believe that in the OT program, I get to interact with those people everyday. I love my professors, I love my classmates, I love my co-workers, I love my friends I love my dogs. What more could I ask for?
I will miss leading tours for prospective students. I will miss the foods and snacks that my classmates bring in to share. I will miss yoga on the lawn during lunch hours. I will miss group projects. I will miss listening and talking to classmates. I will miss the compassion of the people in the program.
But I know those memories don’t have to end as we walk off the graduation stage. We can continue to check in with each other. We have various ways to do that, thanks to social media (I’m still a fan of snail mails). We have created a network of the Trojan family for life, and for that, I am grateful.
With every ending has a new beginning.
Monday I’ll start my last level-II fieldwork at the Veteran’s Hospital for 12 weeks. I’ll be working with people with traumatic brain injury. I’ll be pursuing my clinical doctorate degree in the fall and starting my residency at USC University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in pediatric mental health. I’m super excited about that as well. Although I don’t have a lot of experience with children, I’m ready to learn. So I’ll be keeping myself busy in the summer and starting to study for the NBCOT exam. Come fall I’ll be a licensed occupational therapist! Woohoo!
Yes, I made it to my last class as a Master’s student! In Lifestyle Redesign class today, I facilitated my healthy eating group on the topic of superfoods. I hope to work in health and wellness in the future, perhaps owning my own business and implementing Lifestyle Redesign concepts into my practice. I learned a lot from the group members and added to my OT toolbox. I few more hurdles to jump before I graduate. I can’t believe it.
I’ve never felt more tired and sleep deprived until this week. Grad school isn’t easy, but it’s manageable. This past weekend I attended the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in San Diego. This was my second conference I attended. One perk about attending USC OT Program is that the division sponsors a number of students to attend these conferences, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the students chosen to attend! I realize how small and big the OT community is. I ran into my past supervisor and met my future supervisors there. I also ran into a student from Samuel Merritt University who presented a poster on oncology there as well. I remember hanging out with her last year at the conference in Indianapolis. I also saw a student from CAL State Domiguez Hills who did fieldwork at the same place as me last summer. That’s not it. I also ran into a prospective OT student whom I had given a tour to earlier in the semester. The conference is open to everyone!
I also met new people as well…in the jacuzzi. I met three wonderful USC Ph.D graduates, who now hold faculty positions at universities across the U.S. One of them in particular, Dr. Pollie Price from Utah, co-authored one of my favorite articles that I’ve read! I remember reading the article Mother Becoming: Learning to Read Mikala’s Signs by Pollie Price and Stephanie Miner in my clinical reasoning class last year and how I really enjoyed it. A lot of the articles and books that we read in class also come from our very own USC faculty, so I feel that I’m very fortunate to have picked the best school to go to.
I was sad that I had to miss the Alumni Reception at the Conference because I had to come back early and prepare for Miss Thai New Year Pageant. I volunteered to help out the temple by participating in the pageant. This was my second pageant (the first one I had done last year just for the heck of it). I ended up helping the temple raise close to $1,000 by selling balloons at the event. The total amount raised by all of the participants were close to $2,000. It was amazing to know that there was so much support and joy at the event. There was also a talent show portion that I was very surprised to have gotten second place for singing Tian Mi Mi, a classic Chinese song. The last portion of the pageant was to dress in a Thai traditional dress and pose. How hard could that be right? It was actually a pain to figure out how to best wear the traditional dress, but without the support from family, friends and strangers, I wouldn’t have survived the event. I ended up getting dehydration and a headache that lasted two days afterwards, but to know that I’ve helped a great cause in raising money for the temple, I am grateful.
It’s my first time participating in CicLAvia! On Sunday my friend and I biked from USC to Venice Beach. The city blocked off the roads, so I didn’t have to worry that a car was going to hit me. In total I rode 22 miles on a mountain bike. I couldn’t even run a mile. I couldn’t believe myself, and I was more impressed that my bike made it. We were among 150,000+ people who participated in this event. I remember growing up as a child, I was the first among my siblings to ride a bike (and hit the trash can because I didn’t learn how to apply my breaks), but I remember loving the feeling of the breeze hitting my face, especially at night. My friend graciously carried her pump and put airs on my tires, and it worked miracles on my bike. I’m so glad I did it. It’s something I never thought I could do since I haven’t biked in a very long time. It’s one thing off my bucket list. The next CicLAvia event is on June 23, 2013. I might be hitting the roads near you! Watch out!
Last week my uncle and his family came to visit from Thailand. It was their first time in the United States. I had an eye-opening experience to begin to understand what it was like to live with a T4 spinal cord injury. I was playing tour guide for some of the days. At Disneyland the accommodations were spectacular. They have done a good job in making most of the rides accessible for people using wheelchairs. I had my handy dandy Guide for Guests with Disabilities. We went to Indiana Jones, It’s a Small World, the Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyager, Star Tours, Railroad, Pirates of the Caribbean, Innoventions, the Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s House. While some of the rides didn’t require my uncle to transfer, many of them required transfer either to a higher seat or to a lower seat. My uncle thought that at times he was just going to wait for us, but I insisted that his son and I could lift him. He was able to enjoy all of the same rides with us, and I thought that this is how everywhere should be. I didn’t see my uncle as a person who is disabled, but the environment made him that way. I thought about universal design and the importance of making all spaces accessible for everyone. I appreciate the fact the guide provided a description of where the accessible entrances are located. During lunch we saw a Jedi Training Academy workshop for kids, and I also got to learn more about what it’s like to live with a spinal cord injury for over 20 years. He knew I was studying to be an occupational therapist and even offered himself as a case study. After I took them to get jelly beans and dinner at Rainforest Café, I dropped my uncle and his family off at the hotel exactly at midnight. It was a Cinderella story after all.
On Tuesday I was invited to speak at the Exploring Health Careers Panel at USC University Park Campus as part of Pre-Health Week. It was great to see so many students interested in the healthcare fields. Among those on the panel were students studying to be a physician’s assistant, optometrist, nurse, physical therapist, and of course, occupational therapist. My side of the table was the most festive since it is, after all, occupational therapy month! Yay! Free buttons for everyone. It was great to be back and mingle with eager undergrads again. After the event, I took a box of pizza home for my residents. While walking back, there is this guy who was sitting near the church, trying to get people to enjoy a free movie screening. A simple “hello” turned into a twenty-minute conversation about occupational therapy. I, of course, knew the drill and fed him pizza while pitching OT to him. He was so intrigued by my kindness and equated my act of generosity like what Jesus would do, which I politely declined. Nonetheless I educated him about OT. I feel so lucky to be at USC, meet cool people, and educate those around about OT. Fight on!