University of Southern California
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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OS/OT Student Blog


Great News for a Great School →

Sep 23, 2014, by Leila · 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 · 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 · 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. :’)



Aha Moment →

Aug 25, 2014, by Leila · Leave a comment

Hello, Hola, Aloha, Shalom, Bonjour, Ciao, Ola, Merhaba, Guten tag! cheese Welcome to my…wait for it…very first blog! It comes with great pleasure that I have the opportunity to report to you all on my experiences as an occupational therapy student here at USC! Before I begin to tell the tale, I must share with you what led me to the wonderful world of occupational therapy.

Occupational therapy? Say what? I actually graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in International Business!

Graduation Cake

See, there I am on a cake. After graduating, I went on to work, intern, volunteer and within a couple of years I started to realize that a career within business wasn’t for me. I first heard the term occupational therapy while speaking to my older cousin about her daughter Maria* with down syndrome. Maria was working with an occupational therapist named Terri* to help her master skills for independence through self-care, fine and gross motor skills, school performance, play, and leisure activities. Over the years I became so intrigued and excited to hear about Maria’s progress with her therapy. With the help of her occupational therapist, Maria is not only able to participate but excel in activities such as dance, cheer, and acting. Terri’s success with Maria has become one of my motivating factors to becoming an occupational therapist. Who knew there is a career out there to help people live their life?! A light bulb went off in my head and I decided to pursue my journey to become an occupational therapist.

Fortunately, I’m here at the #1 Occupational Therapy program in the nation. It’s crazy to think that two years ago I didn’t know where I was going to end up. Luckily, I found OT. I feel extremely lucky to be here among so many supportive and brilliant people.

Here is a glimpse of my 1st school year:

Kinesiology Lab
70s Party
Parachute Fun
Mosaic Box
White Coat Ceremony
Student Ambassadors
Mental Health Class
Mental Health Group
I Love OT

I look forward to sharing with you all my last year as an OT graduate student! Tune in… cheese

*names have been changed