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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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A Love Letter to the OS Minor


October 27, 2021

Classes What are OS/OT?

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With USC course registration coming up, let’s chat about the occupational science (OS) minor and why it’s the best dang minor ever (Let’s be real — it’s part of my job to promote our programs . . . but I promise this is my honest opinion and I’d say all of this for free).

Undergrad was a very stressful time for me. My major courses involved many overlapping creatively-demanding projects, and I spent plenty of late nights glued to my computer to keep up with it all. For me, and for many others, the OS minor was a refuge. Beyond their obvious application to OT school and life in general, I thought they were all really fun and often were a stress-free few hours of my week. AND I actually remember what I learned in them. Here’s what I took & my favorite project from each class:

OT 250 (4 units): Introduction to Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

  • What is it? The only class required for the minor. It was like a sampler of everything OT has to offer — we learned about healthy habits and routines, flow, motivational interviewing, lifestyle redesign, OS research, neuroscience, stress management, sleep hygiene, creativity, exercise, sensory systems, and (still somehow) more!
  • My favorite project: We wrote a paper to reflect on occupations that bring us into a flow state — I wrote mine about Zumba. 💃

OT 251 (4 units): Across the Lifespan: Occupations, Health and Disability*

  • What is it? The OT department’s lifespan development class. This class was great preparation for the Team-Based Learning format used in several of the OT graduate classes. *(Bonus: it covers a prerequisite for the graduate program so it’s like a 2-for-1 deal.)
  • My favorite project: Individually, our final assignment was to read a memoir by a person with a disability and relate it to the course — I applied the person-environment-occupation model to Tara Westover’s Educated and it was the first time I got to practice this kind of analysis.

OT 330 (4 units): Perspectives on the Daily Life of Families

  • What is it? A class dedicated to the roles within and occupational impact of family life.
  • My favorite project: A family tree diagram to identify occupational connections within our families. We could make it as extensive as we wanted, and I had a blast. My final tree was 23 pages wide 😮

OT 350 (4 units): Disability, Occupation, and the Health Care System

  • What is it? Amazing guest speakers and meaningful discussions surrounding the varied experiences of living with a disability and navigating the health care system.
  • My favorite project: We had weekly journals to reflect on our developing understanding of disability — my favorite journal activity was an accessibility scavenger hunt around USC’s main campus.

OT 370 (4 units): Understanding Autism: Participation Across the Lifespan

  • What is it? This class was so different from psychology classes I had taken that included content about ASD. We focused on neurodiversity, lived experiences, and advocacy.
  • My favorite project: My ‘media representation of ASD’ group project. I got to illustrate a children’s book and explore ways to help typically developing children understand their peers with ASD.

If I could have fit more in my schedule, I would have. Specifically, the human-animal interaction class. A few weeks ago, my friend’s dog was a guest speaker in that class — he was excellent.

Dr. Ashley Uyeshiro Simon and Guest Speakers Samantha Kosai (human) and Oliver Kosai (small dog)

Dr. Ashley Uyeshiro Simon and guest speakers Samantha Kosai (human) and Oliver Kosai (small dog). The start of Ollie’s long career in academia, I’m sure.

As a student ambassador, I recently got to go back and give brief presentations to some of this semester’s OS minor courses, and it made me really nostalgic. When I feel nostalgic, I get emotional. When I get emotional, I write letters and never send them (usually because they are addressed to real people. Since this one is addressed to a non-sentient academic program, I’m ok with publishing it on the internet. So, here we go).

To my beloved OS minor,

I wish we could have spent more time together. I miss a lot about being an undergrad at USC, and your classes are no exception.

Thank you for classes that brightened my afternoons when I’d usually be needing a nap. Thank you for faculty mentors who have supported me through ups and downs both academically and personally (shout-outs to Linsey, Kate, & Kristy). Thank you for literally assigning some of my closest friends, Leah and Dakotah, to me as part of my group for OT 251 — they’ve stuck with me all the way til the MA-II program, and now they’re stuck with me for life.

Thank you for guiding me into the best career in the world.


1. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | October 27, 2021

Oh, Alyssa, What a heartfelt note and blog. You are on your way to becoming a sensitive, smart, funny, and amazing occupational therapist who will make a difference in countless humans’, and perhaps animals’, lives.
We treasure you and am confident in your success.