Student Ambassador Blog
A lot of times, prospective students ask me what it’s like to be in such a large class. Comparatively, USC has one of the largest programs in the country. Does everyone just go home after school? Will I really make lasting friendships here? Will I really be friends with everyone?
To that I say, we are all one big, happy Trojan family.
With Thanksgiving in the books and the holiday season fast approaching, I wanted to share a glimpse of what being part of the Trojan family looks like.
This week, our entire class came together to throw a huge OT holiday potluck. Large gatherings like this are not out of the ordinary. We all love to be in each other’s company and while Thanksgiving just past, I can honestly say for this year, I am thankful for all the friendships I’ve made with my peers and professors.
Being a Trojan has its perks. In addition to getting a top-notch degree in occupational therapy, USC also offers students unique opportunities to make their time here truly one-of-a-kind.
Some of the amazing things that USC has to offer include athletic special events, concerts, theatre, distinguished speakers, and jazz series. Personally, I try to take advantage of all of these opportunities—especially USC football.
USC also provides opportunities to get involved through community outreach, cultural committees, and leadership. Specifically in the division, students can get involved in various programs. Many students that live in the OT House are involved in Engage, a program that works with at-risk adolescents by giving them an opportunity to participate in diverse activities. Other division organizations include the Latino Occupational Therapy Association, Occupational Therapy and Science Council, and Student-Run Clinic.
Here’s me with the other members of the Occupational Therapy and Science Council!
USC is also invested in your wellness, which is awesome because that is what occupational therapy is all about! USC students have access to both the Lyon Center and Soto gyms, recreational sports, the Eric Cohen Student Health Center, and of course, USC Occupational Therapy’s own Lifestyle Redesign®.
A more comprehensive list of resources for graduate students at USC can be found here
Lastly, being a student at USC also means you have all of beautiful Southern California to your disposal. Los Angeles has a lot to offer: museums, concerts, sports, and did I mention the food?!?! My classmates and I have bonded so much in the past year and we’ve been able to go to places unique to Southern California. Not many OT students get to say they visit Disneyland, go to Lakers and Dodger games, beach trips, and explore LA on their free time.
Here at USC, there’s always an opportunity to do the things that you find meaningful!
This past Sunday was the 15th Annual Afternoon Tea with a Scholar. Each year, the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) hosts this event to highlight exciting research that is being done in the field of OT!
This year, Ann McDonald, MA, PhD, OTR/L, spoke about the dynamic role of occupational therapy in support of families due to the oftentimes difficult talks of meeting the needs of a family member who has a physical, emotional, or neurodevelopmental challenge.
The event was awesome and there were two main things I took away from this event: the importance of research in occupational therapy and the importance of our state organization.
Research plays a pivotal role in advancing occupational therapy. Science is ever evolving and it is important that occupational therapy works to develop the best forms of treatment possible for our clients. USC is one of the leaders for research in the field of occupational therapy. In fact, Occupational Science, the science that informs our practice, was founded here at USC.
Another takeaway from this event was the importance of our state organization, OTAC. Supporting our state organization is so important because it fights for our right to practice—specifically in California. Many people know that OT is one of the top jobs out there, but it did not happen overnight. OTAC works tirelessly to advocate for our profession and support its members so we can work in this wonderful field.
Four students and I had the pleasure of volunteering for this event. Not only was volunteering fun but it gave us an opportunity to serve our OT community. So whether you are a prospective student or a seasoned practitioner, get involved in our state organization and the promotion of scholarship in occupational therapy.
Kaitlyn, USC’s 1st-year OTAC student delegate, and other volunteers honing their chef skills
The fruits (and pastries) of our labor!
The woman of the hour: Ann McDonald, MA, PhD, OTR/L
Our wonderful student volunteers
It’s no secret that occupational therapy is a female-dominated profession. But while the majority of occupational therapists are women, there is a growing need for men in the profession.
In order to best serve our diverse populations, it is important that we also have a diverse workforce. In this case, increasing gender diversity provides opportunities to better serve our clients and propel the profession forward.
For example, in an adult rehabilitation setting, male clients sometimes feel more comfortable having another male assist them in developing/regaining self-care skills such as dressing, bathing, and using the restroom.
The same could be said in other settings. For my Level II fieldwork, I worked in pediatric mental health. At this site, the majority of my clients were adolescent boys labeled with a mental health diagnosis. Working with these boys made me realize how important it was for them to have a male figure in their lives. While some boys were content working with female practitioners, other boys were more comfortable working with me because they found a male more relatable. This in turn created a therapeutic relationship where my clients felt more comfortable sharing their feelings and experiences. After all, for many boys that age, sharing delicate information to women isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do.
Although we love the companionship of our female classmates, I feel that the male students in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy have developed a special bond. While about 10% of our student body is male, those numbers are growing every year. We “BrOTs” have to represent! After all, occupational therapy is about helping others, and helping others is not exclusive to a single gender.
Here are a few photos of USC’s BrOTs:
2015 White Coat Ceremony
BrOTing with Dr. Celso Delgado, Jr.
BrOTs Taking Over the Arcade
I find that many prospective students worry about the demands of graduate school. One of the most common questions I get being a student in the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is, “Do you even have a life outside of graduate school?” While our program is intensive (which is why it is ranked #3 in the country), it is certainly manageable.
Given my school schedule, I still have plenty of time to be involved in things that are important and meaningful to me. When I’m not in the classroom, I work as a student ambassador within the division, as USC’s Student Delegate for our state organization (OTAC), play in an intramural basketball league, spend time with family and friends, go to the gym, and of course watch Netflix! So believe it or not, my classmates and I have lives outside of graduate school.
Occupational therapists understand the importance of balance in people’s lives. After all, a balanced life is a healthier life! As students, we all work hard to ace our tests and gain the skills to be competent practitioners. With that being said, our professors urge us to practice what we preach and add balance to our own lives. That’s why my classmates and I make sure to set time aside for our own leisure and personal care. A doctor at the Keck Hospital of USC once joked with me that the occupational therapy students are the only students on the Health Science Campus that smile. While I’m sure the other health professions also smile, there’s just something special about occupational therapy’s perspective on health and balance that has us smiling a little more
Here are a few pictures of my classmates and me participating in meaningful activity outside of the classroom (just in case you don’t believe me):
USC OT tailgate fun!
Hiking at Red Rock Canyon
NAMI Walk for Mental Health
Annual Vegas Trip!