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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


Dear Younger Me, ⟩
May 6, 2021, by Bethany

What are OS/OT?

Dear Younger Me,

Where do I start? It is surreal that graduation is in one week! And what a ride this past year has been: home life, school work, and everything in between. I remember moving home at the end of senior year, frustrated at the lack of closure. But every cloud has a silver lining. Can I give you some advice? Hold tightly to every small moment. Cherish watching NCIS with Mom and Dad every night and the regular conversations with them over dinner and walking the dog. Have fun painting your childhood room a color other than purple. Talk with grandma over a socially-distanced meal. It’s amazing that you get to spend this year so close to your family support. And even though it’ll take some time to see them in person again, watch to see which friends you continue to text and FaceTime, the friends that you complain to when life happens. Rekindle old friendships (what better time than an online world?). And thank all of them for getting you through a crazy year.

You’re also a student ambassador! You get to work with an incredibly talented team (that you’ll meet in person eventually!) with the most supportive boss. These are amazing people. Take advantage of the time that you get to work with them, and learn from them. Be creative and honest in your work, and have fun!

This year will fly by faster than you know, and you’ll be closer to being an OT than ever before. During classes and during your first Fieldwork II, be observant and flexible. Build relationships with current (and future) OTs and learn from different perspectives. It’s scary to have to do actual OT things, but you got this! The fifth and final year of this program brings a lot to look forward to.

And keep growing as a human. Can’t wait to see where this next year and beyond will take ya. 😉

Fight On Forever.

P.S. To the others reading this letter: Thank you to my fellow ambassadors for being an amazing team and to Kim for bringing us all together. Thank you to my family and friends for being there for me. And readers, I hope you’ve had fun and learned about USC and OT; thanks for keeping up with me. Keep being your amazing selves. Much love. <3


The Choice is Yours ⟩
April 16, 2021, by Bethany


Congrats! To all of our undergraduate admitted students, you’ve made it! It’s been a long season of submitting applications and putting yourself out there, and now the power is in your hands. You get to choose where you want to go to school next fall.

Pursue your passions — With whatever choices you have available to you, remember that this is a time to learn. Part of why I chose USC as an undergrad school is because I was able to pursue OT, and at the same time, I didn’t have to give up my passion for music. I could be a part of the Trojan Marching Band and pursue a minor in Musical Studies. Since my faith is also important to me, I found Christian community at my school to support me. I looked for a school where I could continue to do what I loved. Consider what other classes you might want to take for fun, what clubs are available, and what life on and off campus might look like. You can even take a tour if you want to hear a student perspective!

Give yourself space to grow — I was nervous to choose such a large school. I came from a small city where the people I knew senior year, I had known since at least sixth grade, if not elementary school. But in the end, I decided that I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, to be okay with knowing when to advocate for myself and ask for help and to meet new people. Think about ways that you would like to grow. Even if a school doesn’t seem like a perfect fit for who you are now, would it push you to become someone you want to be?

Money, money, money — Finances are always a factor when considering schools. That’s why you should also consider that there are resources like scholarships, financial aid, and work study to support whatever decision you make. Personally, I found different scholarships and student jobs throughout undergrad and even now. The Chan Division provides some scholarships specific to the division. You can also find other scholarships associated with USC, and even more outside of the university!

It’s not the end — It may seem like you have to make a decision for the next four years of your life, so maybe it will surprise you to hear that whatever you choose, you’re not stuck in your decision. Many schools have transfer processes for both simple changes like switching majors to deciding to go to another university. Even beyond undergrad, you may have even more opportunities in your future choices (like which grad school you want to attend to pursue OT)!

Prioritize — There are many factors playing into your decision, and the ones listed above are only some of them. Maybe you want to stay in-state, or maybe you want to get as far away from home as possible for the next four years. Maybe you’ve had a dream school since you were little, but you’re not sure if it’s the right fit now. Take a deep breath. Figure out which of these factors is the most important for you to prioritize.

There’s a lot to think about, and it is a big decision. Be sure to get input from people you trust. But remember that in the end, this is your choice! And from here, there’s going to be so much to look forward to!


The A-Z’s of USC OT: Part II ⟩
March 22, 2021, by Bethany

Admissions Classes Living in LA What are OS/OT?

In a previous post, I began The A-Z’s of USC OT: Part I. So continuing right where we left off . . .

Occupation — Occupation is, of course, the focus of our profession and one of the focuses of our schooling. We do not compare ourselves to other professions, but rather learn how to advocate for the inherent value of our distinct perspective as OTs.

Program interconnectivity — As a BS-MA student, we get to meet a lot of OS minors through classes and the Pre-OT club. We join up with Entry-Level students for the graduate level curriculum. We get to learn alongside Post-Professional Master’s students and OTD students in our electives, and have PhD students as our TAs. From my experience, students get to interact with OTs in all programs.

Questions and answers — Questions about fieldwork? Scheduling? Applying to the OTD after finishing the Master’s? Clinical experience? Our faculty and staff (and student ambassadors!) are responsive to all of our queries. We are also paired with faculty mentors, who are matched based on our interests.

Rehab lab — In the Center for Health Professions, we have a lab for Adult Physical Rehabilitation that includes a hospital setting, a bedroom, bathroom, and fully-functional. We can practice creating and implementing interventions in a real space. You can check out the room on our virtual tour!

Shuttle — There is free transportation between campuses! The shuttle is accessible to everyone, not just students. And shuttle time is great for conversations, naps, or watching shows on your phone. One of the previous ambassadors, Noelle, recorded her shuttle trip.

Trojan Family — Whether it be cheering our team on to victory, ending up at a fieldwork site with USC alumni, or of course networking through the Trojan Network site, the Trojan Family is inclusive, extensive, and supportive.

Undergraduate Study — USC is one of the few schools to offer an undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy, which helped me claim my identity as an occupational therapy student and learn to advocate better for the field. We also offer a minor in Occupational Science.

Vibrant student life — Around campus, you will find a bustle of students, whether they be grabbing food at the farmers market or Trader Joe’s or going to football games amidst a sea of cardinal and gold.

Well-established — USC’s OT program lives up to its name. We were the first Master’s degree in OT and the first PhD in OS. We developed Lifestyle Redesign, and we continue to be a top-ranked OT school.

X-amine yourself — Within our classes, we are given opportunities for introspection about how our own beliefs, communication styles, and backgrounds can affect how we come into a client-therapist relationship. For example, we complete a values checklist and share our results with our classmates, leading to (1) introspection, (2) learning to understand and listen to other perspectives, and (3) understanding the position of vulnerability we ask of our clients.

You’re not alone — Whenever I needed help, I had support from faculty. They worked with me to make sure I could participate in band for my senior year while taking classes. They looked at which fieldwork placements best suited my preferences and transportation needs. I’m happy to have resources to go to for anything I need in the program.

Zeal — One thing I have always admired about USC students is their passion. And now, I get to pursue my passion in occupational therapy alongside others who share that zeal to find ways to creatively help others do what they love.

Whew! 26 letters. Felt like a long list, but even so. It cannot sum up the passion for OT and the community that I found these past years. Regardless, I hope that I was able to give you a good glimpse into the program. 😊


The A-Z’s of USC OT: Part I ⟩
February 24, 2021, by Bethany

Admissions Diversity Externships Getting Involved International

As a Bachelor’s-to-Master’s student, I have been a part of the USC OT community for nearly five years. While learning to call this school home, I have realized that I am so lucky to be where I am. I’ve decided to compile an A-Z list of USC OT attributes that drew me to the program and that I learned as a part of the Trojan Family.

Area — USC is located in the wonderful California city of Los Angeles. Not only can you find a lot of OT volunteer opportunities nearby if you want to check out OT, but you can also drive to the beach, hike to the Hollywood sign, or check out amazing eateries.

Beyond classes — Outside of classes, there are a multitude of student organizations and groups that allow students to encourage growth within the school and also growth in the community we serve.

Creativity — Creativity is so integral to occupational therapy that we have an entire Foundations course on creativity. Not only do we look at crafts occupations, but we use creativity to find new ways to approach and solve problems with engaging in these occupations.

Diversity — Our division places a high value on representation from people of all different backgrounds. Whether it be looking at ethic diversity in admissions, gender representation in OT, or even diversity in ages and stages of life, our students and faculty are open to difficult and perspective-building discussions.

Early Level II — Some OT schools have classwork first and both Level II Fieldwork placements after. But we have our first placement the summer in between academic years, getting to bring our fieldwork experience into our final year of classes to build on that new understanding.

Finances — Funding school can be a difficult discussion. The division offers their own scholarships and financial aid resources. In addition, USC has resources for their students and scholarships through the university itself and other organizations.

Global — Students can expand their global perspective by planning an externship abroad. Or we can increase our understanding of OT around the world through our very own Global Initiatives program!

Hands-on — Whether in labs or in fieldwork or even in practice activities in lectures, I have been grateful for learning-by-doing opportunities. Now in fieldwork, I can see how small activities that we may have done in class can be used with my clients.

Interdisciplinary — We study how OT fits with other health professions, such as PT and social work. Students can also take advantage of other incredible programs at USC by taking electives in other schools, such as the Davis School of Gerontology, the Marshall School of Business, or the Rossier School of Education.

Jobs — There are good job prospects in OT, as it is a quickly growing field. You can also pick up a student worker position while in school, like my job as a student ambassador.

Knowledgeable professors — Our professors are open to talking about coursework and the OT field outside the classroom. They work with us to make sure that we can get a full experience, working with different accommodations needed and through different life circumstances.

Lifestyle Redesign — Lifestyle Redesign was created at USC. Students can both learn about a unique framework and experience it, too. Our faculty practice offers services to students who can experience Lifestyle Redesign and its impact on their lives and occupations as students.

Mental health — This is an area of OT that is not often given enough space, but here, it has its own immersion. After this class, I was more open to the idea of mental health and how occupational therapists can impact mental health and therefore performance in occupations.

New perspectives — In our classes, we discuss how different people would approach different cases and how our various perspectives can be expanded through others’ experiences. We learn from each other to expand our own creative thinking.

Stay tuned for Part II. 😊


Welcome to the Waiting ⟩
February 3, 2021, by Bethany

Admissions Life Hacks

Hello to all of our undergraduate applicants who have now reached the Waiting: that awkward time in between application submission and decision where the choice is out of your hands. All admissions processes, whether for undergrad or graduate school, have that awkward, breath-holding Waiting. You’ve spent months trying to paint the perfect picture of yourself for each counselor that reads your personal statement. You’ve looked at schools and maybe you have that one ideal school in mind. You’ve hit the submit button. And now what? Whatever thoughts or expectations we have about our future education, we all at some point get stuck in the Waiting. So as you’re sitting trying to picture what the next four years of your life may look like, here are a few tips to remember.

  1. Breathe — With applications in, breathe in. Now, breathe out. You did it! You submitted! Good job! You’ve done your part, and now look at all this new time that you have gained! Take a breath and bake cookies or go for a night drive. Go back to your favorite activities, or find a new one. Or you can always spend more time studying for all those AP classes that you decided to take senior year . . .
  2. Celebrate — You have done your best, written your best, and put on your best show. Take time to eat some ice cream, since it’s hitting 80 degrees here in LA, or drink hot chocolate and watch a movie.
  3. Commiserate — Remember that other students are also waiting! Find your other friends who are in the same boat. Wait together, and rant together, if you need to. Remember that wherever you are in this journey, you’re not alone.
  4. Ask — If you still have questions about the college experience, use the time to reach out! Email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you want to ask me questions about OT undergrad life. Take an undergraduate virtual tour. Stay updated on the undergraduate Admission Blog to learn more about the “Now what?”
  5. Be present — The phrase “be present” is used frequently among my friend group. But it always takes a moment for the real meaning of the phrase to sink in. As you go throughout your day, be present in the moment. Yes, you can think about your future, but don’t let those worries take away from what you’re living right now. Make some good memories. Now is as good a time as any.

So. Welcome to the Waiting. Just remember, the Waiting doesn’t last forever. Your path may end up looking different than you expected. But know that somehow, someway, you’ll end up where you need to be.

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