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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Student Blog


How Cooking Helps Me On A Daily Basis

, by Anijah

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I learned how to cook at a very late age. In Guyanese culture, it is common for young girls to learn how to cook at the age of 8 or 9 years of age so that they could start putting food on the table while their parents went to work. Both sides of my family are from an English-speaking country in South America called Guyana. My mother spent half of her life in her home country but my siblings and I were born and raised in North America. Both my sister and I did not learn to cook until we were 12, which is a common age for those who were raised in America.

My mom has always loved to cook since she started. She enjoys cooking traditional Guyanese food and trying new things. My mom was also excited to share her love for cooking with her daughters. However, I was not comfortable in the kitchen until I reached college. Once I entered college and had to cook for myself, I realized that cooking meant a lot to me. After a long day in class or at work, I enjoy coming home and making dinner for myself and my roommates for many reasons. The first being the thrill I get once I have successfully made a new dish without burning it. Since I do have this excitement every time I make a new dish, my phone and social media is filled with pictures of my creations and my Pinterest is filled with future recipes. The smell of onions and garlic in a pan and listening to the sizzling of the food cooking allows me to destress after a busy day.

Cooking is an everyday activity that many people engage in to eat, on the most basic level, and for others, cooking allows them to promote a healthy lifestyle. Engaging in an activity that a person truly enjoys will lead to a better physical and emotional life. For me, spending time in the kitchen allows me to accomplish a meaningful life. For anyone who wants to start learning how to cook it is not too late, just find the right recipe and get started.


What USC has done for me (so far)?

, by Anijah

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For a very long time I was unsure about what I wanted to do for my future, but what I did know was that I wanted to attend an amazing university located near my family. The first time I applied to USC I did not get accepted, so I had to decide if this university was what I truly wanted. My twin sister and I soon realized that we definitely wanted to attend USC, so we decided to go through with the Trojan Transfer Plan. Ever since I entered high school, I always had the idea that I would attend a four-year university right after graduation, but I believed I would be most successful at a community college first. I attended a CC where I could compete in track and field while completing the necessary steps to transfer to USC. After one amazing year in Sacramento, CA, my sister and I both got into the university of our dreams, USC.

Transferring into a university can be difficult for many reasons, and it can be even more stressful when you are indecisive about what you want to do. I had always participated in sports, so I believed it would be good to get a degree in Human Biology. With that degree, I could go to physical therapy school. I was nervous to switch my major because it is a huge step in any college student’s life when they do so. While switching my major, I also added on a minor in occupational therapy because it is a healthcare profession that worked closely with physical therapists. My first occupational therapy class discussed how occupations allow people to experience a healthier life. USC is one of the few universities to offer undergraduates the opportunity to learn more about this amazing field as a minor.

Halfway through my first semester at USC, I started to realize that I enjoyed the field of occupational therapy. After doing some research, I found myself at one of the information sessions that the OT division offers. Immediately, I noticed how this graduate program accepted people from all educational backgrounds. After attending the session, I met with my advisor so that I could get on track to attend graduate school for occupational therapy. Deciding to transfer to the University of Southern California was a great decision because I truly believe I would have never found such an amazing career!


Before I Let Go… One Last Blog

, by Serena

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It is nearly unbelievable to think that my time in USC’s Occupational Therapy Master’s program is coming to an end. And Before I Let Go… I had to post one last time about my graduation ceremony and a surprise Beyonce dance video that is near the end of the blog!

At USC’s Occupational Therapy Graduation ceremony in a feeling of utter bliss and joy after receiving my master’s degree and Award for Professional Promise and Personal Excellence.

It is a bittersweet feeling to come to the end of a program that has given me so much! One of the most difficult parts is saying goodbye to the friends and mentors that I have made while in the program.

At USC’s Black Graduate ceremony with Miriam Brown and Natasha Strickland.

At USC’s Occupational Therapy Graduation ceremony with another student ambassador and friend, Jessica Pederson.

With a few of my friends and cousin at USC’s Occupational Therapy Graduation ceremony.

At USC’s Occupational Therapy Graduation ceremony with a few of my mentors. (Top to Bottom, Left to Right)  Dr. Stefanie Bodison, Dr. Julie McLaughlin Gray, Ms. Bianca Ojeda, and Dr. Camille Dieterle.

I am thankful to have received a master’s degree but I am most grateful for the lifelong friendships I have formed and mentors I have gained while in the program. We have memories, pictures, and videos that we will cherish forever. In honor of graduation here is one of my favorite videos some of my friends and I put together with the help of our friend in USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Lastly, I would like to thank my family for supporting me during my OT and life’s journey. At a time of great accomplishments comes the need to remember how you achieved your successes. Without my family I would not be who I am or where I am today. As OTs we know that the community and social supports play a huge role in quality of life and health. My personal accomplishments will always and forever be my community’s accomplishments, my family’s accomplishments. 

At USC’s Occupational Therapy Graduation ceremony with my family. (Left to Right: My dad, baby sister, me, mom, and middle sister)

At USC’s Occupational Therapy Graduation ceremony with other family members. (Left to Right: grandfather, mom, me, and aunt)

My graduation cap decorated by my mother in memory of my grandmother who instilled courage, exceptional work ethics, and kindness into my heart.

Thankfully, I will be staying at USC for another year to complete my doctorate at USC’s Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice (OTFP). At the OTFP I will be pursuing my interests in health and wellness by receiving mentorship while delivering Lifestyle Redesign® interventions to promote healthier habits and routines.

Fight On!


Dr. Martinez Coming Soon

, by Melissa

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Goodbyes are never easy, and the last couple of weeks have been a constant reminder of that. With all the chaos that comes with the end of the year — finals, comps, graduation — I haven’t had much time to think about the fact that graduation marks the end of a very important chapter in my life. Now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, I feel some sadness that it’s all over, but also excited for what’s to come. I’m walking away with a deep appreciation for the friendships I have made, the opportunities I was given, and the experiences that have helped to shape the clinician that I will be someday soon.

It was always my dream to be a part of the USC Chan family, and I can easily say that the last couple of years have surpassed my expectations. It truly feels like it was just yesterday that I was anxiously starting the summer session with my new classmates, so it’s hard to believe that this part of my journey is nearing its end. I will be forever grateful to everyone in the division, who truly go above and beyond to ensure that we have a great experience in the program.

I had dreamed of becoming a Student Ambassador since I first got exposed to the position at an information session many years ago, so looking back on this past year fills me with overwhelming pride and emotion. I have sincerely enjoyed meeting and corresponding with so many incredible students from all over the world, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to share my passion for our program with others. I’m also thankful for the incredible Ambassador and Admissions teams that I had the honor of working with, for they made the last year fun and unforgettable.

Like I said before, goodbyes are never easy, but I find solace in the fact that I’ll still be at USC for a bit longer pursuing my OTD in Clinical Research with Dr. Sharon Cermak. So for now, it’s not a goodbye but instead an “I’ll see you soon.” 


Jessica P

Thank You, Next

, by Jessica P

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I’ve never been good at goodbyes, so I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic the past few days as my class has finished our comprehensive exam and graduation has come and gone. It feels like just yesterday that I stepped foot on campus as a fresh-faced freshman. At a large school like USC, it was easy to feel lost and like there wasn’t a place where I fit in, then I joined the Chan Division as part of the Bachelor to Master’s program. The Chan Division has meant so much more to me than just a major, it has meant having a place to call home. I never thought that a program could become family, but the OT family and CHP has become my home away from home.

When people ask me “Why USC?”, my answer is always the same: the people. The Chan Division has introduced me to the most amazing professors, classmates, and friends who will always be what I remember best about USC.

Thank you Cohort B | To the best cohort and my ride or dies. Here’s to our amazing Google docs, potlucks, and knowing how to always encourage and care for one another!

Cohort B in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, and Fall 2018

Cohort B in Fall 2017, Spring 2018, and Fall 2018

Thank you friends | To the classmates who became friends and then family. Thank you for helping me through my lowest lows and celebrating my highest highs. Whether we were camping, hiking, going to OT Vegas, exploring new cities, or studying together in CHP – you have been by my side every step of the way.

Thank you professors | To the professors that pushed me out of my comfort zone, supported me, mentored me, and taught me more than I could ever read in a text book. The life lessons I have learned from every professor have helped shape me into not just a better therapist, but a better person.

Thank you co-workers | To the best co-workers and bosses a girl could ask for. Thank you Kim Kho for constantly guiding me and encouraging me. Thank you to the entire Admissions Team for supporting me personally and professionally. Thank you to Etta, Evan, Gouen, Joyce, Melissa, Michael, and Serena for being an amazing student ambassador team. You have all made every day I go to work rewarding and not feel like I’ve actually worked an hour at all.

Thank you Mom & Dad | To my biggest supporters who encouraged me to pursue OT since I first mentioned it to them. Thank you for always explaining to people what your daughter is studying and making sure they know the difference between physical and occupational therapy. Thank you for supporting every one of my wild ideas and always making sure my fridge is stocked. Thank you for being there for every big moment and every small moment. I would not have made it this far without you.

Thank you Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy for all of the people, experiences, and opportunities you have exposed me to. But…you can’t get rid of me just yet.

Next: Keck | I’ll be staying another year at USC to pursue the advanced clinical track of the occupational therapy doctorate (OTD), completing my residency at Keck Hospital of USC. I can’t wait to see where my occupational therapy journey takes me, but I know that USC Chan will always be a part of my journey. So this isn’t a goodbye, just a see you later.

Fight on forever!

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