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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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Student Blog


over and OuT! ⟩
May 4, 2018, by Ali

Classes Externships Getting Involved

As of 9:30AM today I completed my last final of my Master of Arts Degree in Occupational Therapy. This realization just hit me and the nostalgia is real. Although I will be continuing on with the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy to complete me Doctorate of Occupational Therapy with The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens implementing inclusive programming for guests! I am so excited for this next chapter, but right now I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the great moments of this semester that got me to this point. 

1. Externship

As Caroline, Erika, and Kaitlyn mentioned in their blogs over the last months this semester we were given the chance to create our own leadership experience to build our professionalism, communication, and overall understanding of occupational setting in a new setting. A classmate and I continued the work we began in OT 537: Occupation-Centered Programs for the Community. We worked with The Painted Turtle, which is an organization that provides year round camp based programming to children with serious medical conditions. Over the externship I was able to observe new leadership styles in a non-clinical based setting that does not currently have an occupational therapy on staff. We were able to use our occupational lens in a new setting. This opportunity was formative in my decision to complete my residency at The Huntington because I was able to solidify my passion for inclusive programming and the value OT has in community settings.

2. The American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference

In April I was able to attend my first national occupational therapy conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy the conference and the opportunity to attend presentations given by researchers and leaders in the field that I have been reading about for the last five years. The chance to network with occupational therapists all over the country across so many practice settings was inspiring as I go out into the profession. I know there are endless possibilities in how to create my own practice. I was impressed and honored to be an occupational therapy student entering the profession with so many passionate and hard-working leaders. I am excited to start my residency and hopefully become one of the leaders someday!

Fun at AOTA!

Fun at AOTA!

3. Comprehensive Exam

Although I have officially finished my finals, I still have the comprehensive exam left! This is an exam that is a compilation of content from the following seven courses: OT 515 Advanced Neuroscience, OT 518 Quantitative Research for Evidence-Based Practice, OT 525 Qualitative Research for Evidence-Based Practice, OT 534 Health Promotion & Wellness, OT 538 Current Issues in Practice: Adulthood and Aging, OT 540 Leadership Capstone, and OT 545 Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science. Although this is a daunting exam, it is also a very meaningful way to complete the program. As this is an opportunity to look back at the foundational courses that have built my occupational lens. I am confident that upon completion of this exam I will have the tools I need to complete my final fieldwork and pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

4. Electives

I have appreciated this last semester of classes because I was able to take courses that I have a particular interest in learning more about. In addition to gaining a unique view into the theory and intervention of sensory integration I was also able to hone different styles of therapeutic communication. Not only were these courses full of interesting content, but also the opportunity to take classes with students from other cohorts and have professors for the first time. I loved that this semester was different from all the others and allowed me to meet new people and learn new concepts.

Finally, as this is my last blog post, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for reading and emailing us such thoughtful questions. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet and speak with so many of you as you learned about OT! Fight On! 

Ready to receive another diploma from USC!

Ready to receive another diploma from USC!


OT Generalist! ⟩
February 28, 2018, by Ali

Admissions What are OS/OT?

Hello! The other student ambassadors and I have been receiving a lot of questions about “concentrating” or “specializing” in certain setting within the field of occupational therapy. The wonderful part of graduate coursework to becoming an occupational therapist is that you gain knowledge and skills to treat every population. You will graduate from the program as a “generalist,” which means you know a little bit of everything. Throughout the program students are able to explore three separate settings through their level I fieldworks in pediatrics, mental health, and adult rehabilitation. Then students will choose two of these settings to be placed in for their level two fieldworks.

If you take a look at the course sequence and the course descriptions you can see that the Entry Level Master’s program exposes you to various setting and provides you with a strong base for your first job!

One way the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is special is the ability to choose electives your final semester of coursework. Although all students from our program will graduate “generalists” this freedom to choose classes that allow you to delve into certain areas, populations, or skills gives us the chance to specialize and learn more about topics we have a particular interest in! See Caroline’s post to learn more about what this final semester could look like!


Los Angeles Living! ⟩
February 9, 2018, by Ali

Housing and Transportation Living in LA

The ambassadors and I have been receiving a lot of questions about where we live in Los Angeles to commute to the Health Science Campus (HSC) for class! I wanted to shed some light on my living situations and hopefully answer some of your questions.

My first year in the program I lived in a house within a five minute walking distance to the University Park Campus (UPC). I loved living near the main campus of USC with the undergraduate community I still wanted to be a part of. Around the main campus there is the new campus village which has everything from Target to Trader Joes to two Starbucks locations! I took the USC Intercampus Shuttle to and from the main campus to the Health Science Campus each day. The shuttle was convenient and a great place to take a nap or finish up some last minute homework. Living near the main campus was great for me because I loved running around that campus and taking the ten minute drive to downtown LA for some great food and nightlife!  The OT House is also located near UPC, so there was a lot of OT friends nearby which is always great. See Caroline’s post to read more about the OT house!

For my second year I decided to move to Palms, which is a small neighborhood on the Westside of Los Angeles. The rent is affordable and I love being closer to the beach as well as the benefits of learning a whole new part of Los Angeles. My commute ranges from twenty minutes to fifty minutes by car depending on traffic. Although I am from a small suburb in Sacramento, California, I am already used to the traffic that Los Angeles throws at us. I’ve learned that leaving at 7pm versus 5pm can make the world of difference. I either stick around campus after class and study at the library to wait for traffic to die down or I turn on a podcast and use the longer drive as a time to recharge alone!  I also live right on by a metro stop and can take the metro to explore LA easily, which is an added bonus to my relocation. To read more about moving to LA and navigating a this city without a car read Linah’s post! Living in Palms has also been a nice change because it is a little further form downtown so there is less congestion around my apartment and it feels more like a neighborhood!

USC OT students live all over Los Angeles. People live anywhere from across the street in Currie Hall (Pro tip: see Kaitlyn’s post about living in Currie Hall!) to Orange County. Everyone has his or her own solution to find the right space and place in order to be successful in graduate school. If you have any questions about housing please feel free to reach out!


The Power of Play ⟩
February 2, 2018, by Ali

Living in LA

Hello! Since I am originally from Northern California, I am still learning about all that Southern California has to offer with beaches, food, entertainment, and so much more. This is my fifth year living in Los Angeles and each weekend I find something new and fun to do. My friends and I took the two hour drive to Joshua Tree National Park for the first time, and I fell more in love with what this part of the state has to offer. This park is full of the infamous Joshua Trees and huge boulder structures. The landscape was so different from the Redwoods and mountains I grew accustomed to in Northern California. We spent two whole days climbing over boulder structures, crawling into caves, and jumping over cacti. This semester I am signed up for OT 564: Sensory Integration and OT 565: Sensory Integration Intervention, which means that I have been given the opportunity to study play in action and the science of play.

This past weekend was the first time I engaged in play in so long. Joshua Tree provided me an adult play structure to explore a new environment and engage in an occupation for the sake of joy, creativity, and fun! I explored a new environment with friend and was able to experience first-hand the power of play as an occupation even at the age of 23 years old. This weekend I was reminded once again how glad I am to be a student studying occupational therapy at USC. I was able to use my occupational lens to appreciate the meaning that the hiking and climbing brought to my life all in 80 degree weather in Southern California!


Winter Break: Perks of still being a student! ⟩
January 12, 2018, by Ali

Life Hacks

Hello and Happy New Year! After the stress of finals, we had four weeks off from school to rest in order to come back for spring semester rejuvenated. Being a graduate student comes with doing homework every night after class, studying over the weekends, and managing your schedule around group projects and your professors’ office hours. Although being a student has some less than desirable aspects, one major perk of still being a student is having breaks! Anyone that knows me will tell you Christmas is my favorite time of year. There is no chance you will find me listening to anything other than Christmas music or sitting in my room without a holiday scented candle lit. This year I was especially grateful for the time off and the chance to fully immerse myself in the holiday season!

This extended period of time to travel and rest is something that I was reminded time and time again not to take for granted. This time next year I could be hitting the ground running in a full time job with a limited number of vacation days, so I took extra care this break to enjoy the full holiday season. I had four weeks to visit my family across the country, go to New York for the first time, celebrate my birthday at home in northern California, be with my family for Christmas, ski in Lake Tahoe for the New Year, and spend some time in Los Angeles enjoying LA winter! I engaged in some of my favorite occupations that get put on the back burner when I am busy such as baking, reading for leisure, and gardening!

I am excited to be back at school for new classes and open to all the new experiences this semester might have in store!

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