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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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Better Late Than Never: The MA ’22 White Coat Ceremony


October 7, 2021
by Alyssa

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The White Coat Ceremony for the entry-level-MA class of 2022 felt like a long time coming. With everything moving to Zoom, many of us were concerned that our ceremony scheduled for August 2020 would also end up in the virtual void. Luckily, my class voted to postpone the ceremony instead.

Speaking honestly, I had not been looking forward to the white coat ceremony. You can’t look forward to something you didn’t know about. So at first, missing the experience did not feel like a big deal. Upon learning more about the meaning behind the ceremony as the uncertainty loomed, I felt more and more disappointed. The White Coat Ceremony is a tradition to induct and welcome occupational therapy students into the profession — what a sad thing to miss out on.

We were sent our white coats in the mail. Since we could not try on samples in person, the division had a few students from the class of 2021 virtually show us their different sizes of coats so we could make our best guesses for our sizes (as you can imagine, the accuracy of our guesses were mixed). Opening the white coat package felt like it should have been a big moment, but honestly, it felt kind of empty. I wished I was receiving it with my classmates, most of whom I had only ever seen shoulders-up in a Zoom screen box.

The limbo of if/when the ceremony was going to happen felt endless. A whole year later, in July 2021, we received the save-the-date email — it was finally happening! On a very warm late August day, under a huge tent on the lawn outside of CHP, the excitement was palpable. Dr. Rafeedie stepped on the stage 5 minutes before the ceremony even started to set up water bottles and everyone started cheering. After a hard year of online/hybrid classes and fieldwork, the class of 2022 got our in-person ceremony surrounded by our friends, family, and faculty. My voice felt croaky afterward from cheering my friends on.

I can’t speak for the rest of my class, but I think the ceremony would have felt really different if we did it at the beginning of the program. Doing it in the middle of the program was an opportunity to look back, look ahead, and look around at all of the friends and colleagues I have come to appreciate so much over the last year. It was definitely worth the wait.

5 MA OT Students at the White Coat Ceremony

MA ’22 friends left to right: Elizabeth “Lizzo” Bowers, Maggie Young, Alyssa Matlosz, Mariamme Ibrahim, Daniela Flores

3 MA OT Students at the White Coat Ceremony

With my fellow Chan student ambassador friends Silvia Hernandez Cuellar and Teresa Pham