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


Graduation and Gratitude

, by Clarissa · email · Leave a comment

Graduation happened! The ceremony was beautiful and the featured speaker this year was Elizabeth Yerxa – a legend in OT.  I read her work and watched videos of her speeches! Of course, her speech was wonderfully inspirational.

The best thing about graduation, though, is sharing it with those who helped me reach my dreams. Pictured here is a book of messages and pictures my sister collected from my family and friends.  I’m humbled by all the selfless love and support that surrounds me. 

Here’s my family – without them, I’d be nowhere near where I am now.  From doing my laundry to advising me on big life decisions to dealing with my short fuse during stressful times, they’ve been there.  I owe them absolutely everything. 

My friends light up my life.  My home, college friends, and post-college friends were there through my quarter life crisis before I found OT.  Our friendships never faltered, no matter how little I saw them through busy grad school.  There are also my closest grad school friends who got me through all-weekend study marathons, who shared in life-changing travel experiences with me (see post about Ghana), and who support all my grad school endeavors, whether it is attending the socials I plan or debriefing challenging clinical experiences with me.  I know we’ll be lifelong friends. 

My absolute favorite thing about the program is the people. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the Class of 2014 – every person in my class is selfless, warm, motivated, and supportive.  My wonderful classmates made every single day in class something to look forward to. Because I have these amazing people to look up to, I am closer to the person I want to become. Whether it is developing rapport with patients or leading advocacy efforts for OT, I’ve learned from them all.  They will make such a positive impact on so many people and I am proud to call them my colleagues and friends.

We did it!


Ode to Ambassadors (and Kim) Part II

, by Clarissa · email · Leave a comment

I have loved being a student ambassador this year and am so grateful I had this amazing opportunity.  When I was a prospective student, I attended an admissions info session and met a previous student ambassador.  I decided right then and there that I wanted to be just like him, mentoring prospective students and marketing a profession I truly believe in. 

Lo and behold, my dream came true! I still remember when my supervisor Kim Kelton called me and offered me the student ambassador position.  I was ELATED.

Working with the ambassadors and Kim this year has been such a valuable experience.  I learned so much from my tasks on the job – I have better public speaking abilities, more self-confidence, and an increased passion for advocating for OT.  I also learned a lot from my incredible team. 

My fellow student ambassador Rob previously wrote an Ode to Ambassadors blog post and this post is the highly anticipated sequel!

I’ll start with Rob, who has taught me to let go.  From him, I’ve learned that issues giving me nervous breakdowns – I’m a worrywart if you can’t tell – don’t matter as much as I think they do in the moment.  He’s also taught me to add a bit of fun to everything.  Here’s a picture of him sleeping under our supervisor’s desk, which him, our fellow student ambassador Kate, and I decorated with pictures of the ambassador team.  I love our shenanigans!

Next is Kate, who is wonderfully sassy and confident.  Whenever I feel doubtful about my ability to manage a situation, I pretend I’m Kate.  She’s also taught me to be more vocal about my opinions.  Kate is so versatile – she can be professional Kate to roll-around-in-grass-with-kids-in-Ghana Kate.  Here’s a picture of us together on our Ghana trip.

Ryan is simply a ray of sunshine.  No matter how difficult her life situations are or how badly her stomach hurts during ambassador meetings, she radiates positivity.  From her, I’ve learned to hone in on silver linings. She also has some incredible dance moves.

I’ve worked with Jen closely in the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC) as well as as an ambassador!  Jen is the co-chair of OTSC and I’m the social chair, so I know she’s great at running meetings and effectively delegating tasks.  I tend to put a lot of weight on my own shoulders because I’m a perfectionist. I’ve learned from Jen and, by the end of the year, ran meetings and delegated tasks for the End of the Year Party (see this blog post) committee! Here’s me and Jen – with some photobombers – at a tailgate at the very beginning of the year. 

Last but not least, we have our esteemed leader Kim Kelton.  She’s so great with balancing building rapport with us and being our supervisor.  She’s so young, yet so accomplished! I’m always in awe at her efficiency, dedication, and eloquence.  Thanks for being our role model, Kim, and for making our professional development your priority.  As you can see in this picture, we love you!


Such Great Heights

, by Clarissa · email · Leave a comment

The end of the year celebration, themed Such Great Heights, was this past Saturday! As you know, I’m the social chair of the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC) and, this year, I was responsible for spearheading our huge year-end party.  It was a long process and big team effort – I started all the way back in December and the historians of OTSC even made a promotional video for it!  We had a ton of fun filming the promotional video, which I starred in!  My favorite part is where my friend Jon uses the reacher to put on his jacket—love nerdy OT jokes.

I heard that everyone had such a great time!  It was at the Bonaventure Brewing Company in the Westin Hotel, which is in downtown LA.  It was on a rooftop, hence the Such Great Heights theme, so there was an outdoor patio area for people to chat and a DJ indoors.  It was such a beautiful venue! Here’s a picture with me and some OT friends in the outdoor patio area. 

There were about 200 attendees, which included students, faculty, and staff members.  It was so great celebrating our achievements with the wonderful people that my fellow OTs are.  Hanging out with the staff/faculty and their significant others was also really cool.  Food, open bar, good company, a slideshow, and a photobooth – what more could we ask for in a party?!

Here are my fellow student ambassadors with our incredible supervisor Kim!  The photobooth picture is on the bottom, juxtaposed with a picture we took at the beginning of the year.  This was a crazy fun group to work with all throughout the year!

By the way, Rob is floating head because he wore a green shirt (on purpose) and there was a green screen – he did it by accident at the photobooth last year and decided to continue the tradition this year.

The party was infinitely fun because I was surrounded by people I look up to and love.  These 2 years flew by and I’m so lucky to have had both educationally rich and fun experiences.  I was definitely getting choked up during the OTSC 2014 Slideshow.

Earning my Master’s here at USC was an unforgettable experience and one that I will treasure always. 


The End and the Beginning

, by Clarissa · email · Leave a comment

I’m graduating this Friday! Time really has flown.  So much has happened this Spring semester and I have a dream that I will still post 15+ blog posts this week so I can update all of you about the past 3 months.  Get ready for my blog binge!

Life has been crazy.  I was so busy the week before this studying for the comprehensive exam, which took place last Monday.  The exam consisted of 6 classes of material that spanned from Fall semester of first year to Spring semester of our second year.  Yes, when I say “comprehensive,” I really mean comprehensive!  Our class was great, though, about making study guides together for the test. 

So I found out a couple days later that I passed it! It looks like my Master’s is in the bag (given that I pass this summer’s clinical internship).  WOOHOO! Here’s my fellow student ambassador Rob and I celebrating our victory! We’re moving on to bigger things!

What bigger and better things, you ask?  I have 3 months of clinical internship this summer at California Children’s Services, which is a pediatric physical disabilities site.  This is the practice area I want to go into, so I’m really excited for my experience there this summer!

Another big experience on the horizon is my doctoral residency next year!  At USC, we have a doctorate program that takes 1 year to complete after we finish the Master’s.  The residency has several tracks and I’m doing the “Advanced Clinical Practice” track.  I’ve been researching and interviewing at different potential residency sites throughout this semester. 

After doing observations last week at a couple of sites, I finally decided on spending the next year at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center as a doctoral resident.  I actually took the motor control class here last year and I fell in love with this place – hooray for more learning and growing at this amazing institution next year! 


National OT Conference in Baltimore!

, by Clarissa · email · Leave a comment

There is an annual conference that the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) of California organizes and, this year, it was in Baltimore! The division offers scholarships to go, which I applied for and received.  I was so excited that I got to nerd out about OT! 

I love going to AOTA because I learn about the exciting new places our profession is going and I can also network with big names in OT.  There are always tons of great speakers, workshops, posters, and free stuff to grab! I also get to hang out with OTs all day – classmates, OT students from other schools, my professors, etc.  Where else would I rather be than OT central?!

Here are a few of my OT classmates and my comrades on the recruitment and admissions team representing USC at the conference.  There was an awesome balloon artist in the exposition hall, too, hence our adorable animal balloon headbands. 

Here are my classmates as well as one of my mental health professors Celso Delgado at the USC party that’s held every year at AOTA. 

AOTA is also a great excuse to travel.  My friends and I got to do some sightseeing in Washington DC on the side.

Man, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately and I’m wiped.  So worth it, though!

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