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


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


Prospective students, just some words of encouragement… →

Sep 26, 2014, by Brenda · email · 2 comments

A couple days ago, we hosted an information session for prospective students here on the Health Science Campus where our classes are held. It was my first information session as a student ambassador and I was able to talk about my experiences with the curriculum and about all the wonderful things I am currently involved with. In talking to those present that evening, it made me remember that not too long ago, I was in their same shoes. I remember being anxious, a bit overwhelmed, contemplating all the “what-ifs” of the application process.

But now…here I am! In my second year of the program!

I wanted to take some time to remind everyone who is currently in the process of applying to USC and/or other occupational therapies, IT IS ALL WORTH IT! Occupational therapy is an incredible field and while getting into a program may seem daunting at times, you have clearly chosen great profession. When you are done with submitting your applications, make sure to engage in your own enjoyable occupations! Whether it is treating yourself with your favorite food, taking a day trip to a local state park, or just relaxing while watching your favorite movie, you will have earned it!


Back in full effect! →

Aug 26, 2014, by Brenda · email · Leave a comment

Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe that only a few years ago I was living in the bay area wondering what my next move was going to be. And now here I am! I have really enjoyed my time here at USC and look forward to what this new school year will bring. This summer I had the opportunity to complete my Level II fieldwork at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, Ca and it was awesome! I really enjoyed the acute rehab setting and learned so much from my patients. I am excited to continue learning the beauty and wonders occupational therapy holds. This profession is simply the best and I am so grateful to be a part of it.