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


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!


Congratulations on graduation! And What’s next?

, by Goeun

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Classes are done and I cannot believe that I’m almost done with the program! This is going to be my last blog and I’d love to tell you all the things that I’ve gone through this semester as well as my next steps!

This semester has been busier (I think) and more interesting semester. I had externship, electives, a career fair, and more!

On January, I came back from South Korea after winter break and started my new semester. The biggest difference between the Fall semester and the Spring semester is that students take mostly elective courses and a few required courses during Spring. I was excited to take classes what I’ve wanted to take and during the semester, I could have individual Lifestyle Redesign practice sessions with a partner as a therapist and as a client. Also, I could learn hands-on motor control techniques and treat a real client after practicing with classmates.

On February, for the first few weeks, I searched externship site and did externship from the last week of February for two weeks. Finding the site was not an easy process, but it was a great experience to actually think about my interests, possible resources, and build leadership skills. Also, I was working on an OPT visa process which I need after finishing the program. Thanks to Global Initiatives team, I could get general information about the process of applying for OPT visa.

On March, I had the externship until the first full week of March (March 8), and then, I had Spring break! After coming back from Spring break, we had a career fair from our Division. You can find more information about the career fair from one of our Student Ambassador, Jessica’s blog. Also, Global Initiatives held an Alumni Panel for international students which they invited recent international alumni from our Division to talk about what life is like after leaving the USC such as studying the NBCOT exam, job searching, job interviewing, figuring out fair salary, and adapting to a new work environment, etc. It was really helpful as I could get a lot of resources from both the career fair and the alumni panel. After attending them, I felt less pressured and worried as I could get some sense of planning after graduation.

On April, the semester has been going pretty well, and I tried to keep a balance between the schoolwork and my well-being.

On May, I’ll work on my final papers, exams, and the comprehensive exam. After that, I’ll graduate!!!

What’s next? For me, I will work for SOTI program from Global Initiatives from June to July, so I’ll be in school until July, after that, I will study for the NBCOT, and searching for a job. This will be my next steps and a new journey as a new graduate.

It has been really amazing studying in the USC Chan Division and I appreciate all who have been supporting me. Good luck with everyone and FIGHT ON!

We took a group picture after the very last class!

We took a group picture after the very last class!

It was really awesome working in admission team with these amazing people!

It was really awesome working in admission team with these amazing people!

Jessica P

Spring Semester Shenanigans

, by Jessica P

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Happy last day of classes Trojans! It’s hard to believe that today was already my last day of classes in the Master’s program here at USC. Every semester always seems to fly by but this semester especially has gone by so fast I’m not sure where the time has gone.

Fall semester may get a lot of hype because of football season but I’m a big fan of spring semester also. The past few months have been packed with all different events from traveling internationally for my externship to attending my first AOTA national conference. Here is a sneak peek into what I’ve been up to the past few weeks:

AOTA Conference
In April I was able to attend my first AOTA conference and visit New Orleans for the first time. It was a jam-packed few days attending different workshops and speaker sessions. In between sessions, my friends and I explored New Orleans and of course tried beignets!

At AOTA, I really saw the power of the Trojan Family. From hearing one of my former clinical instructors and USC alumni, Laura Ferrari, speak on her work in forensic mental health to exploring posters, like the one above by Dr. Janice Rocker.

LA Times Festival of Books
This year I had the opportunity to help plan the OT booth at the LA Times Festival of Books Health Pavilion. The Festival of Books is such a fun event to spread OT to the greater Los Angeles community and celebrate OT month! We had stations for stress management, weight management, research recruitment, and sensory integration play.

The past few weeks have been busy with tours! We’ve had visitors from all over, including freshman from a local high school who are interested in pursuing occupational therapy.

Students from USC Hybrid High visiting the Chan Division

Students from USC Hybrid High visiting the Chan Division

Desert X
While things can get busy in the spring, I always try to make time for occupations outside of school that are meaningful to me. One of my favorite things to do is to explore various art museums so this year my friend and I spent a weekend in Palm Springs. We drove around the various Desert X art installations and ate tons of delicious food!

I hope you all had an amazing semester, I know I did! Good luck on finals and don’t forget to take time for self-care and engaging in your favorite occupations!

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