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


Spring Semester →

Jan 12, 2015, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

Today is the first day back to school after a much needed 4 week break! With a new year in place, my mind and body is refreshed and ready to conquer the last semester. This semester is different from the rest because we are able to choose electives! Part of our curriculum is that we are required to take 12 units of electives, but we aren’t able to do so until our last spring semester. Many of us look forward to this semester because we have the opportunity to select specialty practice/topic courses of our choice! Whether it’s building your motivational interviewing skills, gaining a better understanding of dysphagia through the lifespan, or delving deeper into Sensory Integration Theory, there are many classes to choose from. During this semester, you also have the opportunity to take other electives to gain more clinical experience, participate in a research project or take a class outside the OT division. It’s really a great opportunity for us as occupational therapy students to gain more knowledge and expertise on areas of our interest.

This semester also includes a Leadership Capstone class, where we learn how to be leaders in our profession! Like I mentioned in my last blog, this class includes a 2 week leadership externship where we go to different sites to learn and showcase our leadership skills. This is a personalized experience for each student and the opportunities out there are vast! Over the break, I finalized my decision to go to Costa Rica and will be joining 6 other students! A group of seven of us will be split into two groups where we will be placed in two projects: either volunteering at an orphanage or with a street children project. We will be leaving March 1st, which is fast approaching! I’m extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to the experience. As you can see, the spring semester is quite the change from our previous semesters. Both exciting and challenging!

During my winter break I didn’t do much but enjoy the time off to relax and engage in my favorite occupations. smile Here is a collage of photos from my relaxing break!


Winter Break! →

Dec 17, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

Last week was our final week of the Fall Semester, and as exciting as it is to be one more semester closer to graduation it is also a little sad. As 2nd year students, we have now completed our final immersion in our cohorts. The Entry-Level Master’s program focuses on three different immersions: mental health, pediatrics, and adult physical rehabilitation. During our first summer semester we were split into cohorts (A, B or C). My final immersion was in pediatrics, which meant it was also my last class with cohort A-mazing. smile It has been a great experience getting to know the great individuals in my cohort and see them grow. I know our immersions and complementary classes have done a great job thus far in preparing us to become amazing occupational therapists.




Next semester will be our final semester of classes. We will have the opportunity to take electives of our choice, as well as participate in a Leadership Externship. All 2nd year students will complete the externship in their final semester as part of the Leadership Capstone course. The externship is a two-week experience where students have the opportunity to build on their leadership skills. Students are responsible for finding and coordinating these externships. The places that you can choose to go to are diverse! I’m planning to complete my externship in a Spanish speaking country- possibly Costa Rica or Peru! I’m beyond excited and I can’t wait to share with you all about this amazing opportunity. Until then I will be enjoying my four-week winter break!



Flying Through Fall Semester →

Dec 2, 2014, by Leila · email · Leave a comment

Hi everyone! I hope that you’re all doing fantastic!

The fall semester is quickly coming to an end and time sure does fly by when you are having fun. I want to apologize for the lack of blog posts, but I promise I will be coming back with more! (As soon as finals are over smile) I wanted to share a little bit about the current immersion that I am in. Currently, I’m in my pediatrics immersion and it has been an amazing experience. Before starting this immersion I had little experience working with children. I mean, I’ve tutored children before and I have younger cousins…does that count? ☺

So coming in I knew very little about the developmental stages, the variety of diagnoses seen, occupational therapy interventions, etc. Fast forward 12 weeks, and I’m feeling a lot more knowledgeable. ☺ Similar to my other immersions, my fieldwork experience has provided me with the opportunity to apply what I learn! It’s also great to see practicing occupational therapists in action. It’s really amazing what OT’s advocate and more importantly what the children can do!

Two weeks ago in our pediatrics immersion we had the opportunity to come up with an adaptive device out of cardboard. Talk about being creative, but it’s okay because we are OT’s! Afterwards, we had to present an infomercial in front of the class.

Check out the video below! Warning: Video contains some comic relief and puns. LOL


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


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