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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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It all winds down . . . ⟩
May 10, 2010, by Gustalvo

Fieldwork Getting Involved Living in LA School/Life Balance What are OS/OT?

So, I’ve passed my comprehensive exam (i.e., comps), I’ve recently come back from AOTA’s 90th National Conference in Florida, and I am looking forward to one more fieldwork this summer — I feel pretty satisfied with myself right now. 😊

These last couple of weeks have been intense with papers, exams, and comps. But I survived, and part of what has helped me is reading and playing music. I’ve been able to squeeze in some leisurely reading (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), play some gigs with my mariachi ensemble, and jam on my own. Speaking of playing gigs, the mariachi that I’m in, Mariachi Sur de California, recently played a few gig on 5 de Mayo one of which was really fun; Los Angeles Southwest College put on a 5 de Mayo event on their campus for local elementary school children. The band had never had a crowd that was so in to the music, just about everyone stood up; children clapped, people sang — it was the most gratified I’ve ever felt at a gig. Also, we played at a church for Mother’s Day; that too went very well. It feels good to be playing and engaging in one of my most favorite occupations.

I also like to record on my free time, but lately I haven’t been able to and so I just jam on my own and I keep practicing snippets of ideas that I come up with so that I can record them over the summer when I have some time.

I can’t wait to get to get this summer started; you could say that I’m about to embark on my dream fieldwork experience. I’m interested in going in to the field of mental health, preferably in community mental health settings, but I also am interested in phys-dys. So, long ago when I was picking out my top ten choices for this summer’s fieldwork I spoke with Jaynee, our Fieldwork Coordinator, about what I wanted and she really helped me out in finding locations to pick from; she brought up transitional living centers (TLCs). I was excited about this for I had observed a TLC during one of my earlier rotations. A TLC basically helps individuals that have come out of inpatient acute rehab to reintegrate themselves back in to their communities. It involves facilitating how to get around, going grocery shopping, and helping them organize their day so that they may be independent among other things. To me it’s the perfect balance between the two worlds I want to combine, though mental health is and can be applied in any setting at any moment, I think the TLC will be a great fit for me!

OH! also, about a week ago I went to AOTA’s national conference in Orlando! It was a great experience. There was a workshop that caught my attention which I’m glad it did: “Engaging Marginalized Populations Through Qualitative Research.”  This was one of the the most up was one of the most interesting workshops I attended. It touched about understanding the experience of marginalized populations, and how these experiences influence their occupational choices and participation. There were three speakers each touching upon the experiences of the the undocumented in the US, people suffering from obesity, and women who have just come out of incarceration. Learning of how stigmas influences these populations occupational choices and participation was very eye opening to me and has further encouraged my desire to do research in the future. The Q&A afterward was very engaging as well. I think the main take home message was that as OTs we need to advocate for populations that are suffering from occupational injustices**. That in addition to advocating for our profession we must also prioritize advocating for populations in need of occupational therapy and break the borders that currently create this schism between OT and underserved populations! It was a very exciting, uplifting, and refreshing workshop to say the least, and it was very unfortunate to see that so few people attended!

This conference was significant not only because it was my first, but also because Dr. Florence Clark was inaugurated as AOTA’s president! Congratulations Dr. Clark!

Anyway, I’m “walking” this Friday and I’m very excited, but also a little stressed since my cap & gown have yet to arrive!!! But I’m sure all will be fine, as everything always does!!

**Occupational justice = the concept that, to develop and thrive, humans are beings that need and want to participate in occupations. So, when there’s an occupational injustice due to a disability or environment, the focus is to enable these populations/individuals to access opportunities and resouces so that they may develop and thrive.


That was fast! ⟩
April 28, 2010, by Sarah

School/Life Balance

Only 3 more days to go!!! Happy belated Stress Management Day! To celebrate, we had a couple activities (aroma therapy, crafts, Japanese tea ceremony, breathing workshops and my favorite activity — snacking — on healthy snacks of course) on the main campus yesterday to help students de-stress before finals. If you’re on main campus next semester, make sure to check us out the week before finals! Good luck on finals everyone, and HAPPY OT MONTH!

A helpful study tip!


MS Walk ⟩
April 27, 2010, by Myka

Classes Getting Involved What are OS/OT?

I had a great time walking in the MS walk with other students and clients from my Optimal Living with MS class.

This semester, I’ve been taking a class with clients with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. Many of these people have difficulties doing what they want and need to do, and often have fatigue and weakness. This is a 12-week course run by the MS Society, and participants come to USC and work with OT students in the morning, and PT students in the afternoon. We led groups for them such as Roles and Identity, Meaningful Activities, Adaptive Equipment, Energy Conservation, Stress Management, and Time Management, among others. I led the group on Advocacy and Assertiveness, which was really fun! A neat part of the class was the opportunity to meet with PT students who are also taking the class, and get to talk to them about what OT does for this population.

We just finished the class, and all of the participants shared their feelings about the experience. Nearly all of them stated that they came to the class to receive physical therapy, and didn’t even know what occupational therapy was! However, over the course of the twelve weeks, they came to really appreciate the unique role of OT in their illness management and health optimization. We look further than the body — we look at the desires, wishes, and struggles of the individual. We look at the psychosocial aspect of living with MS and dealing with functional limitations and loss of meaningful roles and activities. I learned a lot from the participants as they shared the lived experience of MS and I understood that MS does not define these people. As the participant I worked with stated, “I have MS, MS doesn’t have me!”

I was able to attend the Los Angeles MS Walk last weekend at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Most of the students in my class went, and one of our participants was there as well. It was a great experience to see so many people come together for a cause about which they were passionate. As I tried to raise money for the walk, I met more and more people whose families had been affected by the disease. The walk signified hope, not despair, as people celebrated together to raise money to research for a cure to MS.


April is OT Month! =) ⟩
April 10, 2010, by Mari

Community What are OS/OT?

Happy OT Month Student Ambassador Photo Shoot!

Yes, as Myka said, April is OT Month! Happy OT Month! The other day, all of us ambassadors decided to do a photo shoot to show off our awesome OT buttons! Here are some pictures!

Gus & Myka!

Gus & Myka!

Me & Sarah!

Me & Sarah!

Myka & Michelle!

Myka & Michelle!

And, all of us together! Yay for the Class of 2010 Student Ambassadors!

And, all of us together! Yay for the Class of 2010 Student Ambassadors!

OTs encourage people to “live life to its fullest” by helping them to maximize their participation in their occupations, or meaningful activities!


Looking Back — 1st Year ⟩
April 7, 2010, by Mari

Classes Fieldwork International School/Life Balance What are OS/OT?

Fall ’08 – Spring ’09

The transition from summer to fall semester was nice because we had a little more free time since we weren’t in class as often. The classes that we took were in Pediatrics, Physical Disabilities, Psychosocial Dysfunction, OT Skills, Gerontology, and Occupational Science. We also had labs for “Phys Dis” and Skills, and our Level I fieldwork (FW) during the fall and spring semesters. So, although we were spending less time in class, we were still quite busy. I chose not to work during my first year, which gave me more time to hang out with friends, help coach a club soccer team, and of course, study. 😉

Priscilla’s Surprise

Early on in the fall semester, we celebrated Priscilla getting married and threw her a surprise bridal shower! We try to find as many excuses as we can to hang out and have fun outside of school! I think she was definitely surprised!

And here’s the whole group!

Casa Colina

Our first Level I FW was in the fall — I spent a full week at Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation in Pomona, CA, in the inpatient rehab unit. There are different departments at Casa — inpatient rehab, pediatrics, and transitional living. In the inpatient rehab department, the therapists were split into different teams, who generally treated a certain type of patient diagnosis. For example, there were teams for such diagnoses like spinal cord injury and brain injury/stroke, my team being the latter. My Clinical Instructor (CI) was Lisa and she was very knowledgeable and friendly! It was great to be able to work with her and see what it was like to be an OT in that setting. Casa had been pretty recently remodeled, so the facility was very impressive!

Here is a picture of the “Stroke” team on Halloween! It was a great way to end my fun week visiting Casa!


My second Level I FW was in the spring — me, along with 32 other USC OT students, and 6 CIs spent two full weeks in Ghana! We worked with children with disabilities at the Mephibosheth Training Center (MTC), which is a boarding school for the children. This ministry was started by a Ghanaian pastor and his wife, who is a PT from the US. When we were there, there were 20 children, ages ~5-21 years old. In Ghana, they didn’t really know exactly how old the children were, and it made it tough to tell because many of them looked much younger than they really were. In Ghana, much, if not all of their livelihood is from physical labor or skills that a person has, therefore, people who have disabilities are looked down upon and seen as useless and hopeless. It is very sad, but infanticide is quite common if a child is born atypically, despite it being against the law. So, this is why MTC is such a wonderful place!

The children are taken in and they live at the boarding school for three months at a time. They will go home or to the orphanage they came from for one whole month, every three months. This is to encourage the children’s parents and the orphanage staff to be involved with their children’s health and well-being. At MTC, the children live amongst each other in a dormitory and they attend school and church together. Most of the children have chores and they are able to take care of themselves for the most part. It was so great to see how they truly act as one big family! What we were there for, was to help the children to increase their ability to do their everyday occupations. Two or three USC students were assigned one or two children. We assessed and observed them while they were in school, eating, and doing chores and self-care, in order to pinpoint what was going on with them and what they needed the most help with. We then developed a treatment plan, which we implemented during the week. And we created home and classroom programs (that were mostly pictures), which we taught to the children’s parents/orphanage staff and their teachers.

Going to Ghana was one of my most favorite experiences since I’ve been in OT school! Everything about it was amazing — the OT aspect: I learned so much in the short time that we were there and it really challenged my clinical reasoning skills and ability to think out of the box; the Christian aspect: being in a Christian environment was powerful as I saw some of my non-Christian USC friends being touched by the love that the Ghanaian children and people have for Jesus; the Ghanaian aspect: I absolutely loved Ghanaian culture — people were so laid back and friendly, it reminded me of home in Hawaii! We have so many stories and great memories from the trip, but here are a few pictures.

Meet Amanquah (~13 years old) — isn’t he so cute!? Sarah (another student ambassador) and I were partners on this trip and we had the opportunity to work with Aman! He didn’t have a specific diagnosis, but he had CP-like symptoms and malnutrition. He was very weak — he had to use a wheelchair to get around and would scamper on the ground on his elbows, hands, and knees to get around. He had a difficult time holding his head up, which inhibited him from efficiently participating in many of his occupations — eating, self-care, and doing schoolwork. He also didn’t speak much, but we could tell he was very bright!

Barb was Sarah and my CI — it was her first time to Ghana as well. She was great! She brought a lot of good ideas and insight into our treatment and care for Aman!

Here is Sarah and Aman taking a break between one of the exercises that we were doing to increase the strength of Aman’s neck extensors (to lift his head up).

And here’s Aman and me doing one of his other favorite occupations — drawing and writing!

24th Birthday

Also, during the spring, my birthday, which happens to be Earth Day, came around, and of course, some of my friends and I used it as a reason to get together after class!

OT Banquet/Prom

And another great way to end the year — OT Banquet/Prom! A fun night of dressing up, good food, dancing, and great company!

So that was a glance back at my first year. It definitely flew by quickly! To sum up the school portion of it — FW, labs, group projects, practicums, and site visits!

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