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


Giving Back, Looking Forward, Enjoying the Present →

Jan 19, 2015, by Jonathan · email · Leave a comment

Greetings everyone! Hope you all had an amazing holiday season and have gotten 2015 started on the right note! As for me,  my break went by super fast… but I guess that’s how you know it was time well spent! I did choose to stay local over the break, since I had a bunch of family and friends in town, but it was nice to just be home and relax/recharge in preparation for what will be my final semester in the master’s program!

With that said, I am feeling rejuvenated to finish off this last semester strong mainly because I got to engage in some of my favorite occupations over the break, such as hiking, running, playing music, and of course hanging with my friends and family. In addition, I also had the opportunity to experience some pretty amazing moments over break. My 9 month old nephew took his first steps! I like to think (emphasis on like to think) that I may have had something to do with his developmental milestone, since he was pretty much my practice subject for all that I was learning in the pediatrics immersion LOL I also had the opportunity to see Conan O’ Brien (who I happen to think is the funniest man on the planet) at one of his TV show tapings, courtesy of my friend Brian, who’s also in the program.

Lastly, one of the most heartfelt moments of the break was when I had the opportunity to deliver donated toys to some children who needed it the most. Every year during the holiday season, my sisters and I have a tradition of donating toys to the children of Los Angeles County USC hospital. This year, as the USC Occupational Therapy and Science Council Philanthropy Chair, I chose to open up this donation project to the faculty, staff, and my fellow students of the program. The donation project was also expanded to benefit the children of the VIP (Violence Intervention Program,) a wellness center down the street from our campus that provides support and advocacy services for children who are victims of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, sexual assault, and children who are placed in the foster-care system.  The response was nothing short of amazing! As I was putting the toys together, I could not help but be overcome with joy because my colleagues, teachers, and co-workers’ generosity served as a reminder of what the holiday season is truly about: spreading a positive impact to bring joy into the lives of others. All together, we collected over 100 toys that were donated to the well deserving children of the Violence Intervention Program, creating some priceless holiday memories for these families. Here’s a snapshot of the donations!

VIP Donations

Shoutout to the person who donated the doggy! Ha I kidd, that’s my dogggg.

As I embark on my final semester of the program, please tune in for more blog updates from my fellow ambassadors and I! There’s a lot to look forward to this semester, including electives, OT month, my leadership capstone externship in the Philippines, and of course, graduation! As for now though, I will enjoy the ride while I can, and I’ll be sure to document these experiences so that way you’re riding shotgun with me cool smile

Until next time,
- Jonathan


Pedal Pushers! Pedal to the Medal, Giving Back Shifted to Another Gear! →

Nov 14, 2014, by Jonathan · email · Leave a comment

Hello there everyone! Hope that you’re all doing great!

This past Sunday, some of my fellow classmates and I had the opportunity to help out Pedal Pushers, a Los Angeles chapter of Ambucs Inc., a non-profit organization that helps to provide adaptive tricycles for children and adults through fundraising within the community! The opportunity to get involved with this awesome cause was wheely fun and wheely rewarding raspberry This amazing organization was brought to my attention by Sonserey, a member of Pedal Pushers, who I had the pleasure of meeting at OTAC.  I SPOKE (hehe) with Sonserey and she told me all about Pedal Pushers and Ambucs, in addition to the story of what fuels their efforts. Sonserey is an occupational therapist who works in pediatrics. She told me that when she’s doing an evaluation, much alike most OT’s, we start off by trying to decipher what the client’s meaningful occupations are. A common response from the kids she works with is to “ride a bike.” However, for some children with special needs, a traditional bicycle may not be the most practical option. Thus, Amtryke therapeutic tricycles were created to offer an adaptable, universally designed option for children with varying levels of physical abilities! The Amtrykes can be custom made to have a number of features, based on the child’s abilities, safety, and family preference. These features include hand or foot operation, rear-assist steering, assistive pedals, in addition to other adaptations. The best part is, everything on the Amtryke can be adjusted, so the child can continue to use their Amtryke as they get bigger and grow older!

What my classmates and I had the opportunity to participate in on Sunday was actually the final phase of the Amtryke process. It all starts off first with raising enough funds to be able to purchase the Amtryke for the child. Committed families, friends, and communities focus their efforts in hopes that they can make the child’s dream come to fruition. Second, the child is then assessed and fitted for their very own Amtryke. Therapists will collaborate with the children and their families in designing a unique Amtryke that best fits the child’s abilities, function, and interests. The final stage in the process was what my classmates and I had the pleasure of participating in on Sunday! There’s a build an amtryke work shop in which therapists and volunteers will actually create the Amtrykes for the children. The children and their families then pick up the Amtrykes, give it a test drive, and then get to take their Amtryke home! The whole process requires a great deal of diligence on the child’s part, as they patiently wait for an Amtryke they can call their own.

The whole building process we engaged in on Sunday was fun, informative, and extremely rewarding. When the children and their families arrived, you could see the excitement on the children’s faces. To see how ecstatic they were when they first hopped on their Amtryke and propelled a couple feet forward was absolutely priceless! The genuine elation that consumed the kids was contagious, and you couldn’t help but feel the same happiness. Thank you so much to Pedal Pushers and Ambucs for letting us be part of this amazing cause! Here’s some pictures of the process, enjoy!

Amtryke 1st years

Amtryke Supplies

hard at work

Putting in work

Almost done

finished product


there she goes!


If you’d like to learn more and get involved with Pedal Pushers/Ambucs, please feel free to visit the following links:

Also feel free to like Pedal Pushers page on facebook:

Thank you for reading! Have a great weekend, follow your passion, pedal on, but remember to not lose your balance smile

- Jonathan


Coming to your Senses →

Oct 23, 2014, by Jonathan · email · Leave a comment

Hello everyone! Hope that you’re all doing great! Things have definitely been picking up as we’ve just reached the halfway point in the semester. From full time fieldwork, to the OTAC conference, to midterms, to planning events for OT Global Day of Service, and everything in between, I’ve definitely been keeping busy! With that said, it’s especially during times like these that I try to really focus on maintaining balance in my life, by making sure that I am making time for the things that are particularly meaningful for me. It’s funny, the other day while I was on a run, I was thinking about the things that I do in my life, and the commonality amongst my occupations. In doing so, it made me recollect to a self discovery I realized in my mental health Immersion - I engage in occupations that provide a lot of stimulation to my senses! A couple weeks ago, Brenda had walked into the office and told me that she had just completed the Adult Sensory Profile in her mental health immersion. For those of you that don’t know, the Adult Sensory Profile is a self questionnaire that uses Dunn’s Model of Sensory Processing to help you discover your own sensory profile, and how this processing pattern affects functional performance. Dunn’s model is divided into four sensory profiles: low registration, sensory seeking, sensory sensitivity, and sensation avoiding.

After Brenda had told me about that she had completed the profile, it made me reminisce about when I had completed the profile last spring semester during my mental health immersion. Based on the questionnaire, I ended up discovering that my profile is sensory seeking. The following are characteristics of someone who is sensation seeking: enjoys sensory rich environments, creates sensation, and has behavioral responses to counteract a high sensory threshold. All of a sudden, a lot of the things I do in my life made sense…

from my love of being in the water
Jon in the Water

to my obsession with food
Jon - Mac and Cheese

to my passion for music

Jon - Guitar
Jon - Love of Music

to how I run, mainly for own therapy
Jon - Running

to being consumed by my own wanderlust
Jon- RedRock

All these things and more are bounded by one commonality: I am constantly seeking sensation in my environment. It’s funny how the self-reflective nature of OT school brings so many things together in your own life. Which prompts the question… are your own occupations satisfying your sensory needs?

With that said, have a sensational weekend everyone wink

- Jon


Eyes on the Prize →

Oct 2, 2014, by Jonathan · email · Leave a comment

Hey everyone! Can’t believe it’s officially Fall already! This means a couple things - cooler weather (hopefully,) Fall sports, (go Lakers, Dodgers, and Trojans!) and application season! For this blog, I’m dedicating it to the hopeful prospective students in the middle of their application process. The application process is a long road, requiring patience, diligence, and sheer determination. Reflecting on my own journey, I can definitely admit that I ran into my own share of challenges. Yes, it can be tedious - taking the GRE, fulfilling prerequisites, requesting letter of recommendations, etc. - at times it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself in this situation, all I can say is, remind yourself what is fueling all your efforts. I think at times, we get so caught up in the process and the end product that we forget why we are doing things in the first place. In my personal experience, I would do my best to give myself daily reminders of my dream. Some ways to do this, which worked for me, include the following:

Reading this blog: I remember meeting Ricardo, a past USC OT student ambassador at OTAC two years ago, and told him that whenever I found myself too caught up in the application process, I would visit this blog to envision what it was like to be a student. In doing so, this would remind me of what I was working towards, and the experiences I would eventually look forward to one day.

Keep immersing yourself in occupational therapy:  Listen, you’ve already found your calling, which some people spend their whole lives looking for! Now that you’ve found that OT is for you, then all I can say is start living OT today! Whether that’s volunteering, reading up on research, attending conferences, advocating for OT, etc, it’s never too early to start practicing your calling in life!

Stay balanced: Balance is something we preach in OT everyday. Surround yourself in the meaningful occupations that define who you are, because those occupations will provide perspective, especially if times get rough. I understand that the application process is monumental, but so is living and enjoying your life! In addition, by living a life of balance, you’ll be immersing yourself in a concept that you’ll be emphasizing to all the people you will eventually help one day.

Surround yourself by people who will fuel your fire: By surrounding yourself by people who will support you unconditionally, they’ll be able to give you reminders of why you’re working towards your dream. These are the people who truly understand your passion, and will give you that extra push that you need. Whether that’s family, friends, or a mentor, I can honestly say that without these people in my own life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Dream big: Finish this line: When I am an occupational therapist one day, I want to ________. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish as an OT. In doing so, you’ll give yourself that extra motivation as to why you’re engaged in the application process.

Patience, patience, patience: As i mentioned earlier, the application process takes time. It’s human nature to want instant gratification, but good things truly do come to those who wait.

Your best is all you can ask of yourself: - Once you turn in your application, celebrate, blast your favorite song, and do your happy dance.  No matter the outcome, you’ve focused all your efforts over the last couple of weeks/months/years towards making your dream come true, which is all you can really ask of yourself. If that same effort shines through when you’re an OT one day,  you’re going to be an amazing clinician.

Acceptance Letter with Sister
One of the most happiest moments of my life - the day my acceptance letter came in. Here I am with my little sis, as we both got into our respective graduate programs on the same day!

Hope my words of encouragement serve you all well. Stay determined, stay hungry, and stay focused. It’s all worth it. Best of luck to you all!

- Jonathan


Aloha ‘Oe, Until We Meet Again →

Sep 12, 2014, by Jonathan · email · Leave a comment

Over the Summer, I was fortunate enough to receive an opportunity to do my level II fieldwork (3 month full time internship) at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. The experience was nothing short of epic; Hawaii is an amazing place with so much untarnished beauty, friendly people, great food, and amazing surf! I was afforded an opportunity to immerse myself within an occupational therapy physical disabilities setting, where I was able to improve my skills as a future clinician. It was an extremely rewarding experience working with the heroes who have served our country, who shared with me so much wisdom, knowledge, and gratitude as I got to know/work with them in therapy. In addition, I was welcomed in like family by the rehab team at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital, who made me part of their Ohana from day one.

I’ve been told many times that the culture infused at the workplace will ultimately make the work place, and I can honestly say that at the Honolulu VA, they’ve established the right culture and have found the winning formula: Give aloha, receive aloha. If you can show people that you care, that you believe in them, and that your efforts are fueled by your passion, it really is incredible what can happen.

OBT with the OT team
Here I am with the awesome OT team, presenting my final project: The Occupation Based Toolkit - Helping People Reach their Goals through Meaningful Activity.

Surfing at Rockpiles
Surf’s up!

Grubbin at Lanikai
Chillin’ and grubbin’ on some Poke at Lanikai beach

Jump off of the Rock at Waimea
Waimea jump off of “The Rock”

Floating Lantern Festival
“Many rivers, one ocean.” The Hawaii Floating Lantern Festival brings together people to honor loved ones who have passed, including the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our country.

With that said, I definitely miss Hawaii, my vets, my rehab Ohana, and the friends that I made over there, but it does give me plenty of great reasons to visit again soon! Who knows, I may even even call it home one day wink

Aloha for now,

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