University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Entry-Level Professional Master of Arts Degree | Meet the Students

Melissa Estrada MAII ‘16

Melissa Estrada MAII ‘16

Hometown: San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, CA

Program: Entry-Level Master's, Class of 2016

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I discovered OT while working at a special education school for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I fell in love with what OTs did there. I saw how excited the kids got when they knew they were going to their occupational therapy session. I really want to be able to help children and be the therapist that makes them that motivated and happy.

What area of practice are you interested in?
I am interested in pediatric occupational therapy, especially sensory integration and school occupational therapy.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
I earned my BA at the University of Pennsylvania with a major in health and societies. I then proceeded to move back to Los Angeles and earned an MA degree in psychology at Pepperdine University. My employment history includes over 6 years of experience working in special education schools and as a behavior therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disorders.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I really enjoy hiking, going to the movie theatre, going to music festivals, and spending time with my family.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
My favorite memory from the program so far is during the pediatric immersion, when we had lab classes dedicated to observing babies and toddlers being assessed by our professors in areas of development and play skills. They were so cute!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

You would find Starbucks coffee, almond milk, all kinds of cheese, and hot sauce.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

If I had one superpower it would be to time-travel. I would travel back in time to relive childhood days, visit with family members that have passed, and take a look at the future as well. Part of this superpower would include being able to control the passage of time. I would slow it down during the good times so that I could really enjoy things and relax while I’m there.

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?

I would choose my grandmothers and great grandmothers as my mentors. They are/were very amazing women. They persevered through so many hardships and they always did all they could for their families. They have instilled important lessons about the importance of family, hard work, and about focusing on what really matters in life.