University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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Student Blog


Time to Pack! →

Feb 20, 2015, by Brenda · email · Leave a comment

In one week, I will be on my way to South Korea! And I am so very excited. I can’t believe the time has come. And in a very Brenda tradition, I am only now beginning to prepare for my three week trip. I have started by buying new socks, yes socks. Clearly, you cannot go on a trip without some new socks. Baby steps, baby steps.  And since it is winter in Korea right now, packing is going to require some extra thought. Here in Southern California, weather remains pleasant pretty much all year long. The forecast in South Korea is looking a little colder than usual. I am going to be welcomed by 30-40 degree weather. Brrrrrrrrr. Wish me luck!

While I work on packing, I will leave you all with some pictures of my awesome dog Mosquito. I will only be gone for three weeks, but I know I will sure miss his warm cuddling.

Throwback to the baby year, 2013.


Semester Electives →

Feb 12, 2015, by Brenda · email · Leave a comment

I’m a tad late, BUT I just wanted to give a shout-out to my favorite cohort of all time, COHORT C! I miss you guys. Even though last semester was the last semester we had class all together, I’m glad I still get too see many of you in various classes this semester.

The Coolest Cohort C

This semester, as many other ambassadors have written about, is the semester in which we get to pick our own classes. While the program prepares you to become a general practitioner, this is the semester in which we get to explore the things we are most interested in. This is a great opportunity to learn more about a specific population or domain of occupational therapy practice. For many students, like myself, deciding these electives can be a daunting task. This is only because my interests are so vast. When asked what I’m interested in, I always say, “Everything under the sun. Except for pediatrics.” And while my answer is so definitive when it comes to pediatric practice, I still secretly think that there is a itty bitty chance I may change my mind about this down the road. In the end, I chose classes that were most interesting to me. These include Motor Control, Acute Care, Optimal Living with Multiple Sclerosis, and Therapeutic Communication. Although it took me some time to solidify my schedule this semester, these classes have been awesome. I have really been enjoying them equally. In Motor Control, we get to go to Rancho Los Amigos and learn all about proper mobilization techniques and in Optimal Living, we get to work alongside participants living with MS and work towards their goals using principles of Lifestyle Redesign. All my classes are somewhat different from each other, which keeps in line with where my interests lie, all over the place. Nevertheless, I am very grateful we get to have this unique opportunity at USC. If you are curious about what other classes are offered in this semester, you can find a list of them on our website or you can click here:


Buy the ticket, take the ride. →

Jan 29, 2015, by Brenda · email · Leave a comment

So I did it! I booked my flight for South Korea yesterday. I will be there for about three weeks in March. I am ecstatic! It’s been awhile since my last travels. In undergrad, I had the privilege to study abroad in Vietnam. So now in grad school, I will be visiting Yonsei University in South Korea as part of my externship experience. Externships are a requirement for our OT 540 Leadership Capstone class. This class is taken second semester of our second year in the program. The purpose of the course is to further help students with professional development. Externships are student driven and designed to build leadership, communication and professional skills. They are also intended as a means to explore topics that are covered in class. The options for these are endless. Some students choose to stay locally and explore private practice environments, different community-based organizations, or different clinics and hospitals.  Other students also choose to volunteer. Some of my really close friends will be going to Costa Rica to volunteer at an orphanage. Like them, I have decided to do my externship internationally. I will be going to South Korea with division along with seven other students. March can’t come any sooner! If anyone out there has any suggestions of what I should do when I’m there, please don’t hesitate to reply to this post! smile


‘Tis the season to relax! →

Dec 16, 2014, by Brenda · email · Leave a comment

The first semester of our second year has come to an end. Mine came last Friday at 3:00pm to be exact. This semester was definitely a challenging one. Nevertheless, I am ready for this holiday break. Let the festivities begin! I plan to catch up on sleep and enjoy my time with loved ones. Hope you all have a safe and relaxing holiday season!


Dr. Michael Iwama and the Kawa Model →

Oct 22, 2014, by Brenda · email · Leave a comment

This past weekend, I attended the 2014 OTAC Conference and this year it was held in Pasadena, CA. One of the biggest highlights from this event was meeting Dr. Michael Iwama! I was star struck to say the least. Fortunately, he made himself very available to everyone who wanted to speak with him and I was even able to take a picture with him.

Dr. Iwama and me at the 2014 OTAC Conference.

Here at USC, we familiarize ourselves with his work during the Spring semester of our first year of the program. One of our readings for the Clinical Reasoning Class includes his article Toward culturally relevant epistemologies in occupational therapy.  In this article, he argues that in order to develop into a service that universally benefits all, we must strive for more culturally, relevant epistemologies, theories, and practice methods. He developed a conceptual model of practice that is known as the Kawa (River) Model. The Kawa Model uses Eastern philosophical views and perspectives to help view human occupation in a slightly different way from our Western common discourse. In order to transcend cultural boundaries, Dr. Iwama uses the metaphor of a river to illustrate a person’s subjective views of self, of well-being, and the meanings of occupations. With this concept, he encourages us to look at what the client perceives as personal assets, problems and circumstances in their lives, all of these representing different elements found in a river. As occupational therapists, Dr. Iwama states that we can focus on the spaces found in each client’s unique river and can view these as potential channels to increase the client’s flow through occupations. From this view, we become the people that enable the life-flow of our patients; another thing to add to my definition of occupational therapy!

Image taken from
Image taken from

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