University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube


OS/OT Student Blog


OTAC Conference 2014 →

Nov 10, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

I have been so caught up with school work that I almost forgot to blog about OTAC! Nearly two weeks ago I was able to attend The Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference. I knew this would be a great learning and networking opportunity. I attended the student track both Friday and Saturday, and was able to attend two other sessions of my choice on Sunday. Not only did I enjoy all of the sessions, it was a great opportunity for me to mingle with fellow OT’s, as well as OT students from other programs.

Some of the student track sessions consisted of topics covering stress management, traumatic brain injury, autism spectrum disorder, mental health within a pediatric setting and making a fine motor tool kit! Did I mention free stuff? You also have the opportunity to meet potential employers, awesome OT related organizations, check out companies with innovative products and receive tons of free stuff like swag bags, pens, earbuds, etc. It was pretty awesome to say the least! I would definitely recommend attending (or volunteering) regardless if you are in OT school or not.

Fortunately, I was able to capture some of the awesomeness on camera!

OTAC 2014 from Leila Abulashin on Vimeo.

Be sure to check out our division Instagram @uscchanosot and the Occupational Therapy Student Council instagram @otsctrojans for photos from the conference and future events!


Application Season →

Oct 13, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

It’s been a while since I’ve placed my blogging lens on, but here I am! Our fall semester has made it to the midpoint and I’m sure most of you know application deadlines are fast approaching (at least for early decision). This past week I attended my first information session here at our division, but this time as a student ambassador! It’s crazy to think that nearly 2 years ago, I too, was a prospective student, nervous and excited to hear about occupational therapy at USC.  I remember meeting Ricky, a student ambassador at the time, talking about his student experiences. For me, it was also refreshing to hear that he also had an undergraduate degree in business. At the time, I thought having a degree outside of the health sciences realm would hinder my application. Little did I know that the program welcomed (and continues to welcome) individuals with varying undergraduate degrees! 

It was a great first time experience being on the other side at the information session, helping prospective students by answering questions and sharing my student experiences. I remember one individual asking me about my living situation and commute.  For those of you that don’t know, I live in Chino, CA. It’s about 33 miles from the health science campus in Los Angeles, CA.  I typically drive now due to my work hours, but some days I continue to take the metro. In fact, my first year in the program I primarily took the metro. For those of you considering our program but live or want to live in the surrounding LA area, there’s hope! I would recommend looking into public transportation. It definitely beats LA traffic!


I thought it would be fun to make a mini video of my commute to LA Union station.

For those of you thinking of OT school, in the application process of OT school or anywhere in between, I wanted to let you know to not give up! I know the process can be grueling at times, but you will get there. When I decided that I wanted to pursue OT, I didn’t even know where to begin! One note of advice I do have is to seek out support. Whether it’s through a family member, a friend, a professor, an OT student, an OT, a mentor, etc. Find someone that will support you through the process.

I remember meeting Bill Wong, a former OT student at USC and asking him to be my mentor! I literally found him through an OT blog post and emailed him asking if he could share his experiences at USC. It sounds a bit creepy, but he was more than willing to and luckily, he became my mentor in the process. (Make sure to do your due diligence on the person before connecting with him or her.) Bill and I still continue to meet on a routine basis, and it’s always great to share what is going on in both our lives.

Here’s an impromptu video Bill and I made this past Sunday. Enjoy!

Last but not least, I have been suffering some migraines and neck pain, most likely due to computer work strain. I went OT on myself and ergonomically optimized my workspace!  cheese



Great News for a Great School →

Sep 23, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

If you haven’t heard or seen yet, our division has been renamed USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy! Try saying that 3x fast!

USC Trustee Ronnie C. Chan and his wife have dedicated $20 million to USC’s groundbreaking occupational science and occupational therapy program. This is the first naming gift and largest ever made to ANY OT program in the history of OT according to the AOTA. This is huge for our division and will extend to the international field in its efforts to establish a partnership with a top Chinese university to develop a graduate program in occupational therapy in China. With interest in the international field of OT, I think this is great! Perhaps in the future I will get to travel there.

The big reveal was held last Wednesday, September 17th and what a surprise it was! USC’s President C.L Max Nikias was present, along with Dean Dr. Avishai Sadan, Associate Dean Dr. Florence Clark, Trustee Ronnie Chan, his wife Barbara, his sons Adley and Adriel and Chan’s mother Mrs. T.H. Chan. The division was named in honor of Chan’s mother.  Along with the huge reveal, we were provided with brand new white coats, t-shirts and accessories with our new name!
Mrs. T.H. Chan gets surprised!

It’s such a great feeling to be a part of history here as a student at USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Phew! ☺


Sharing is Caring →

Sep 8, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

How quickly the time is going, we are already in our 3rd week of classes! I’m starting to adjust being a student again and now taking on the role as a student ambassador.

We just had our White Coat Ceremony for the class of 2016 and the event was a success!  It was great to be part of the event and see all the wonderful new faces of our OT program with their white coats on.
Fortunately, I get to work with amazing people. With more school events to come, I look forward to the adventures we will have!
My fellow student ambassador Claire and I work together and within the first week of school/work we were already swapping shoes! She needed some closed-toe shoes and luckily I was wearing some. Regardless of our 1 size shoe difference, we managed to make it work. That is what fellow student ambassadors are for!



Building Rapport →

Sep 3, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

My first Level II fieldwork was an amazing journey. I interned at the VA in Long Beach within the Community Living Center MWF’s and the mTBI clinic TTH’s. That means I had two amazing CI’s and I learned from two different settings.  The VA Long Beach Healthcare System is one of the most diversified health care systems. They are active in both research and education, partnering with universities and education centers across Southern California to train a new generation of health care leaders. Fortunately, I was part of the new generation of health care leaders they trained!
Upon starting my first week of fieldwork I was a nervous wreck. I thought to myself…I’m not ready.  Will I remember everything from my adult rehabilitation course? How will I be as an OT? Will my CI like me? Will the patients like me? Those were just a few of the questions that ran through my head. That Monday morning came by quick after a week of finishing up spring semester.  I got up at 4:30am, performed my ADL’s wink, and headed out to Long Beach. I live in Chino, which is a 42-mile commute to Long Beach one-way. I didn’t want to be late on my first day so I made sure I left my house no later than 5:45am.  Of course I arrived 1 hr early! Better safe than sorry. First week was filled with introductions, orientations, getting familiar with the setting and observations. I observed my first evaluation within the first week, and by the following 2 weeks I was already attempting my evaluation skills! One thing I realized the first day at the VA was how welcoming everyone was. That put me at ease and really set the tone for how my experience was going to be like for the weeks to come. Fortunately, I have nothing but great things to share about my experience at the VA in Long Beach. Of course I can share about how much I learned, the overall OT practice there, the assessments they used, documentation skills I acquired, etc. But…I would have to say the most important skill set I had the opportunity to demonstrate was building rapport. 

I had such an amazing time working with my patients, but there were times where I thought I had no idea what I was doing.
Times that were challenging.
Times that were mentally/physically exhausting.
Times that were rewarding.

Upon my last week, one veteran wrote this to me:

“ You are one of the few people who have made a big improvement in my life in a short period of time since I have returned home from overseas. You are going to make a great OT and I believe you are going to be a blessing to many people in the future.
… Who you are, and your heart, is going to be your strength and best tool in your chosen occupation. ‘People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ ”

This is building rapport. :’)


Page 1 of 2 pages  1 2 >