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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Winter Break with the cohort!
Posted , by Japeth

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After the stressful finals week, some of my classmates organized an out-of-state trip to Utah to visit two national parks: Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Driving to Utah takes about 8 to 9 hours, depending on the traffic, speed, and of course the rest breaks! So, we decided to do a stop over in Las Vegas and to eat lunch there, since Las Vegas is also known for its sumptuous buffets everywhere. By the way, driving from LA to Vegas takes about 4 to 5 hours.

Everyone smiling after eating a sumptuous meal!

A groufie after eating so much!

After having lunch, we all decided to go back on the road and head to Utah. From Las Vegas to Utah, it took us almost five hours to get there. On the way to Utah from Vegas, we passed by Arizona – and the view is very relaxing! I am sharing some snaps of the view but my apologies if they are unclear, since the car was moving when I took them. 

The photo shows the view while passing by Arizona on our way to Utah.

We didn’t mind the long drive from Las Vegas to Utah since the view while passing by Arizona was really beautiful.

Another photo that shows the view while passing by Arizona on our way to Utah.

Naturesque indeed!

We rented an Airbnb and surprisingly, the house was big enough to accommodate us all. One thing that made the house extra special was the hot tub that was available for use!

Just a group photo of those who are enjoying the hot tub.

My friends living the life! What better way to enjoy the hot tub than by pairing the experience with some juice and chips?

First day: Off to Zion National Park

In this national park, you can choose as many trails a you want to enjoy; but given our time shortage, we chose one of the easiest but beautiful trails there was: The Watchman Trail. This trail typically takes about less than 3 hours going back and forth. However, it took us more than four hours because we enjoyed so much on taking pictures almost in every good spot we find along the way.

The author's photo after finishingthe trail with the trail's name on the sign.

This is just my happy face after we finished trailing!

A group photo with the mountain on the background.

This is one of the group photos that we took while trailing. We don’t look tired here… yet!

Another group photo with the mountain on the background but with more snow on the ground.

Another group photo! This time, it was colder since we encountered more snow while trailing. We had to wear our snow chains because there were some areas that were covered with ice, and it is so easy to slip when you don’t have the chains on. The cold bothered me, as seen on the picture I can’t even concentrate and look at the camera. LOL

When we finally reached the top, of course, we took more photos! We stayed on top for 30 minutes, enjoying the view while eating our snacks. The snow covering the mountains made the view extra beautiful. The sun being extra sunny that day, helped so much in braving the cold weather.

A group photo as we reached the top of the trail.

We are finally at the top! Tip: according to the locals, the best time to visit is winter since not a lot of people visit because of the very cold weather.

To end the day, we looked for a local coffee shop to warm ourselves up; and even the coffee shop did not fail to surprise us! The place was so beautiful, and they have a balcony area where you can sit outside, have your coffee, while looking at the lake and mountains.

The author's picture at the coffee shop's balcony. The background shows the beautiful scenery.

Good view + good coffee = good mood!

Day 2: Bryce Canyon National Park – Sunrise Trail

This trail was amazingly beautiful as well! We started from the top and we trailed down. Just when I thought that in order to see the beautiful view, we need to reach the top first, this trail proved me otherwise. Going down from the top made me appreciate the scenic view too! It goes to show that sometimes, we shouldn’t just focus on the beginning or the end; rather, we can also focus on the journey and enjoy every moment with the people we are with.

The author with two of his friends while they go down the trail.

A groufie with my classmates Elijah and Maggie. Everyone went ahead of us at this point.

Here are photos of us before and after the hike!

Group photo before going down.

This is our group photo before we started trailing down. The amazing people made the view extra beautiful!

Group photo after going down.

Mixed emotions after finishing the trail. LOL

From the visitor center near the starting point of the Sunrise Trail, we drove a few miles from there going to Sunset Point – another point at the national park where the sunset is really gorgeous.

Group photo at sunset point.

Although the sunset may not be clearly seen in this picture, I can still vividly see it in my memory. Everyone was just busy enjoying the view, and of course, each other’s company.

This trip will always have a special place in my heart and memory. Being with my classmates outside the classroom was a different kind of experience. It was a joy to be with them for several days and I certainly wish for more trips with them. Also in this trip, two other Trojan friends joined us: Nana Lin who is a Masters in Microbiology and Immunology student, and Eden Lin who is also doing her Masters in Computer Science.

Until our next adventure, Fight On!


Winter in Los Angeles
Posted , by Kevin

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“Winter in Los Angeles”…pretty much an oxymoron because it feels like summer here all year. So, how do winter enthusiasts such as myself get my fill of the cold seasons? It’s not easy, but here are some of my favorite winter activities to make this warm weather at least feel a little colder.

My first major strategy to get some winter vibes in my life is to change the decorations in my apartment. When I first moved here, I did not have many decorations, but after missing out on the seasons, I started changing my apartment decorations based on season I wanted my home to feel like. Right now, I am transitioning my fall decorations of pumpkins, spice-scented candles, reds, oranges, and browns to my winter decorations. The first thing I do when I get home to get in the winter mood is to light a pine scented candle, then I turn on the TV in the living room and play an ambient visual of a fireplace with crackling noises. While my apartment has a fireplace, I almost never use it because it just does not get cold enough, so the fake fireplace does wonders to give me the relaxing feel of a cozy fire. After setting the winter mood, I start busting out our winter décor including snowflake pillows, holiday lights, and pine-wreaths! It does not take much to create the feel of winter inside even though it’s still that perfect 65-70 degrees outside all year.

After my apartment has been transformed for winter, I start planning my winter themed activities. This includes blowing the dust of the board games for rainy days, making winter-themed crafts, and finding the best outdoor ice-skating location. Last, but certainly not least, I try to make a trip down to Disneyland because if there is any place that decorates for winter, Disney is sure to deliver.

With the changes to my decorations and leisure activities, “winter in Los Angeles” feels just as cozy and cold as I need!


Being Waitlisted
Posted , by Marilyn

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The feelings one has when learning that they are waitlisted from a top-choice school can vary among each student. However, the reality is that there is still a possibility of gaining admittance to the institution. In this video, three MA-II 2nd year students (Nicole Yoon, Daniel Padilla, and I) discuss our experience with being waitlisted for the USC OT program. I am definitely not tech-savvy, so bear with me. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and hear about how we navigated this experience.

Fight on!


Becoming part of the 4.2%
Posted , by Marilyn

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According to the 2018 U.S. Department of Labor – Labor Force Statistics there are 116,000 employed Occupational therapist (OT) in the nation. Of those employed in the U.S. the demographic percentage breakdown by ethnicity is 91.1% White, 6.4% Asian, 4.2% Hispanic or Latino, and 2.5% Black or African American. As a Latinx occupational therapy master’s student who was recently admitted into the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at USC, I am looking forward to becoming part of the 4.2% in the near future.

As a student ambassador for the division, I have been able to work with the admissions and ambassador team on diversity related events, in hopes of increasing awareness about this healthcare profession. Throughout the semester, I tabled at conferences, presented at middle schools, and met with leaders in the division who are passionate about diversifying the profession. These opportunities coupled with my zeal for changing the current statistics on sociocultural diversity in the profession, make me excited to highlight a couple of those events.

Latino College Expo @ Pomona

latino college student exposition

Annual event where Latinx students, parents, guardians, and admissions representatives from public or private colleges, universities, and community based organizations are able to forge partnerships. This year Daniel Padilla (2nd year Master’s student), Kat Hylton (2nd Year Master’s student and Student Ambassador), and I were able to table at the event.


Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy @ USC (OT Visit on Campus)

OT middle school presentation on campus

Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh (Director of Admissions for the Chan Division) and the ambassador team were able to provide 50 middle school students from Washington STEAM the opportunity to learn about OT right in our classroom!

Press Friends Newspaper @ John W. Mack Elementary School

USC press friends presentation at an elementary school

I was introduced to USC Press Friends by the previous student ambassador Jessica Pederson. I presented to the school newspaper journalist about what led me to choose OT as a career path and supported them with writing an article about OT. 

These specific events remind me of the questions I find myself pondering on:

  • What can I do as a student in the division to make a shift in the demographic percentages of students applying to the Master’s program?
  • How can students in the program support one another with forging relationships that are long lasting?
  • Who do I need to collaborate with to really be able to understand how to make a shift in the current statistics on sociocultural diversity in the profession?

Accepting my Doctoral program admissions offer is my first step in answering these questions. Being a future healthcare provider with an OT lens makes me excited, especially when there are limited professionals who represent a broad range of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. I am certain that with continued mentorship, I will be able to further understand barriers impacting students of diverse backgrounds from applying and ultimately choosing OT. Concurrently, I will be better equipped to deliver culturally sensitive OT services by learning about my client’s sociocultural backgrounds and supporting them with achieving their goals.




Totally Worth It
Posted , by Catherine

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Having a family with two school aged children to take care of, and leaving the comfort of a steady income from having a job, was not an easy decision that I had to make before coming to USC.  Yes, the financial burden of paying the cost of attendance was one part, but another part of me felt guilty about not being home for my nephews, who I co-parent.  I was worried if I could be successful in my academic pursuits, while also maintaining a household. However, I knew that I had found a profession that I was passionate about, and would somehow make it work. As I reflect on my first semester in the OTD, I can confidently say, it has.

If you are like me and decide to pursue the standard progression of courses in the OTD, the OT-620 core course is the only one you are required to take this first semester.  Because most of your week is dedicated to your residency, and your hours are negotiable with your site, this provided me a certain amount of flexibility.  I have been able to continue to maintain my morning school drop off routines, and come home to have dinner, do homework and be present for my nephews consistently.

Taking advantage of the benefits of technology has also made my life a lot easier.  Subscribing to their school calendars, and knowing in advance important school events has allowed me to not be thrown off-guard if my fourth grader forgot to tell me “Pastries with Parents” is tomorrow.  And even though I may not be able to volunteer for every class event for my Kindergartner, the share sites teachers and parents utilize have kept me in the know.  Not to mention the grocery delivery apps that have often saved me when I forgot to stock up on a lunchbox essential.

I am not saying that this process has been easy.  It was not easy to study for my boards exams while negotiating with a five year old to take his bath.  I have been lucky to have had wonderful support from other adult members of my family, the school (mine and theirs), and to be able to access the comforts of modern technology.  However, looking back at my experience in the OTD so far, it has not only been manageable, but totally worth it.  If you are like me when I was considering applying to graduate school; worried about how you are going go through graduate school and be a caregiver, I am here to say you can do it!  If you have any questions about my experience, or want to know more about the OTD program, i am here for you, and would love to hear from you. 

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