Good Days on My Mind ⟩
May 3, 2021, by Calvin
Wow, time sure does fly by, huh? I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, but graduation happening next week still seems so crazy to me! Almost two years have gone by since I officially started this program and so much has happened since then. I’ve made amazing, life-long friends, overcome so many obstacles to get here, developed an even stronger love and passion for occupational therapy, and I’m happy! I’m happy with where I am today and I’m happy with the person that I’ve grown to become.
And, of course, I couldn’t have gotten this far without my support system — the people that have truly made my experience here special and made me feel like I belong.
To my friends: You know exactly who you are!!! Thank you for always being there for me and for making graduate school such an unforgettable experience. Thank you for the late-night talks, the vent sessions, the hangouts, the crying and the laughter, and the what-the-heck-am-I-going-to-do-in-the-future panic conversations 😅. Thank you for everything, and I can’t wait to celebrate with you all very very soon 😊!
To my ambassador team: We really put in the WORK this year and I’m so blessed to have been able to collaborate with all of you. I really wish we could’ve been together in person, but I’m grateful that we made it work out and even found time to hang out with each other recently! If it wasn’t for this student ambassador position, I feel like I wouldn’t have had the chance to talk with y’all as often, and for that, I am beyond grateful 😊. AND thank you, Kim Kho! You have always been such a supportive, caring, and understanding supervisor while having to juggle so much on your plate. You’ve really helped make my ambassador experience memorable and it’s been wonderful getting to know you! Also, big thank you to the Admissions Team, Dr. Mike McNulty, Bianca Ojeda and Paul Bailey — what would we do without all of you?!?!
To my mentors: I’m so thankful to all of you — faculty and student mentors alike. Graduate school was a scary thing to jump into, but because of your unwavering support, I was able to navigate it with more ease and develop that sense of confidence and belonging. I also really want to give a huge thank you to Dr. Daniel Park. Danny, you’re just the best! I’ll never forget the day when I first met you and was introduced to your kind and approachable personality. I was just a lost, new student that was interested in participating in Global Initiatives, and you welcomed me with open arms. I always feel like everything is going to be okay when I talk to you, and you’ve absolutely made a positive impact on my experience here. Thanks so much for your guidance, mentorship, and friendship, Danny!
To my family: I don’t think saying “thank you” is ever enough to express my gratitude to you. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are and help me get to where I am — I’m just forever grateful for everything you’ve done for me. Although I rarely say it, I love you, and even though you still don’t really know what occupational therapy is 😂, you’ve been a huge part of my journey and I could not have done this without you. Thank you and love you!
My time spent in the Master’s program has been incredibly meaningful, and I know that good days will continue to be on the horizon. However, this definitely isn’t goodbye yet haha! I’ll be sticking around for one more year to pursue the policy and administration track of the occupational therapy doctorate, completing my residency with the USC Chan Division China Initiative!
As sad as I am that this is the last time I’ll be writing these blogs, I’m super excited for this opportunity and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me! Thank you to all of you for reading my blogs and watching my videos. It means so much to me and I hope that we can all cross paths someday. For now, stay well, take good care, and I’m wishing you all the best! Fight On!
Hot Off The Press!!! ⟩
April 19, 2021, by Calvin
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Here at USC Chan, we actually have our very own magazine! The USC Chan Magazine is the division’s premier publication and releases twice yearly. The Fall 2020/Winter 2021 issue was recently published, and I had the pleasure of contributing to it as a writer and interviewer. Major thank you to the man behind the magazine, Dr. Mike McNulty, for his guidance, support, creativity and flexibility throughout the entire process, as well as for being such a driving force in making these magazines come to life! So much work gets put into crafting each issue and his collaborative efforts to piece everything together with all contributors is 👏!
Here are links to some articles included in the latest issue:
- The Longest Year, by Dr. Carnie Lewis
Reflections on the frontline pandemic experience from a hospital-based occupational therapist.
- Lessons Learned, by Calvin Lee (me!)
A new course helps make sense of the pandemic by studying it.
- Pain and Pleasure, by Jamie Wetherbe
Face to face and through the screen, a USC occupational therapist helps a client better manage her everyday pain to improve quality of life.
- To Do Unto Others, by Dominique Como
Narrowing oral health disparities gaps of Black/African American children with and without disabilities.
I’m also very grateful to have been able to tailor this experience towards my OT 540: Leadership Capstone Externship Project. The externship is an experience where students are provided with the opportunity to build leadership skills and explore an area that is of interest to them. I’ve always been fascinated with the USC Chan Magazine and I was very interested in learning about how an OT lens can contribute to the realm of copywriting and advertisement. I highly recommend giving the magazines a read 😊! Reflecting back, it’s amazing to see how much we’ve accomplished and overcome together as a USC Chan community.
Fighting Feelings of Imposter Syndrome During Fieldwork ⟩
April 9, 2021, by Calvin
Just last week, I completed my first Level II Fieldwork at Prototypes: A Program of HealthRIGHT 360! I was placed with the agency’s Adult Full Service Partnership (FSP) Program and Children’s Program where I was able to provide individualized occupational therapy services to clients across the lifespan who struggle with mental health concerns, needs, and barriers.
This was my first full-time fieldwork placement. I was expected to be there every day from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM, whereas my previous Level I Fieldwork placements did not require me to come as often. Although I had heard amazing things about Prototypes from previous fieldwork students, I knew that things would be different given the pandemic situation, and also just that everyone’s experience is different. I was feeling anxious about taking on telehealth services, potentially meeting clients in-person, documentation, and more. I wasn’t sure how I would fit in with the team or if I was going to represent OT well enough in the mental health field. The imposter syndrome was real. However, after my first few weeks of fieldwork, those feelings of impostorism gradually began to fade away. I was able to build my confidence to thrive in what turned out to be a beyond-stellar fieldwork experience.
My clinical instructor (CI) was the only occupational therapist at my site, but they truly advocated and raised OT awareness within our client and provider population. I am so fortunate to have had their supervision because they helped further my understanding of what occupational therapy’s role in mental health is. I also appreciated how they always challenged me to ask questions and tested my clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills. At first, I was nervous about making mistakes, but I kept reminding myself that it’s okay and that I should take those as opportunities to learn and grow. Additionally, with the rest of the agency team (inclusive of case managers, clinicians, administrative support and program directors), I felt very well supported and empowered to make an impact as an occupational therapy fieldwork student. It wasn’t long after the beginning when I started to more confidently plan clients’ treatments, document my sessions, present cases to my fellow colleagues, and really highlight the unique capacity of occupational therapy within the mental health community.
It was this sense of community and appreciation for OT that made me feel like I belonged, and uplifted me to bring my skills and knowledge of resources to the table. I was able to creatively collaborate with my caseload of clients to address hygiene management, budgeting their finances, accessing resources, accountability with task completion, social participation, engaging in habit change, and building and maintaining routines so that they can independently participate in their daily lives. I realized that this is the beautiful work of occupational therapy in mental health (and of course there’s so much more to it)! These are meaningful occupations that may be difficult for individuals to participate in because of their mental health needs and barriers. As occupational therapists, we have the power to use occupations as a means and as an ends, as well as to support our clients with health promotion and education, holistic interventions, and our therapeutic use of self.
Overcoming self-doubt and persevering through my own imposter syndrome enabled me to come out of this fieldwork with a wealth of insight, about OT and about myself. I’m grateful for My Mental Health Immersion Experience for providing me with such a solid foundation that prepared me well for this experience. Also, the interprofessional collaboration that I experienced here was extraordinary, and I am incredibly thankful for all the mental health practitioners that I was able to collaborate with. Finally, thank you to my CI, my new West Coast University OT student friends, and especially my ambassador teammate, Bethany Yew, who was placed there along with me — WE DID IT, BETHANY!!!
I am very much looking forward to transitioning into my next, and final, Level II Fieldwork for the Summer 2021 semester, and I can’t wait to continue translating everything I’ve learned through my experiences! Whether if it’s our first or last, or if it’s Level I or Level II, good luck to all of us going into fieldwork. Let’s continue to support one another and make the most out of our experiences!
Restorative Occupation on R(OT)ation ⟩
March 15, 2021, by Calvin
Last week was the Week of Restorative Occupations! This eventful week encouraged all students, faculty and staff to engage in restorative occupations. There were daily division-hosted events not limited to baking sessions, cardboard loom-weaving, salsa dance breaks, and joke writing! There’s also a compiled list of General Resources that includes restorative occupations outside of USC that we can all continue participating in. Shoutout to our amazing Webmaster, Paul Bailey, because I’m sure he put in a lot of time and effort to put all of that together 😊! You rock, Paul!
Although the event itself is over, that doesn’t mean we should stop engaging in restorative occupations! This past week was a time to highlight and celebrate the importance of participating in those occupations, and I’m definitely going to keep mine going. One of my favorite occupations is listening to music, so I decided to create a Spotify playlist that really reflects what “restorative” means to me: good energy, happiness, and relaxation. I love to share what I listen to, so I’ll include a preview to my playlist below!
I was actually introduced to a few of these songs in my OT 578: Therapeutic Communication: Facilitating Change in Clients course because Dr. Jesús Díaz would invite students to play music during breaks. He even asked some faculty to send over their playlists — thanks for the new music Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh and Dr. Sook-Lei Liew, we love good taste!
Feel free to comment down below if you discovered a new song you like or if you want to share some of your favorite songs!
Dear Waitlist Applicants, ⟩
February 15, 2021, by Calvin
How are you? I wanted to check in with you all to see how you’re doing. I know that being placed on the waitlist was probably not the ideal situation you were hoping to be in, but I want to commend you for making it this far. You’ve accomplished so much, from completing the entire application process to your experiences leading up to this moment. Congratulations and thank you for taking the time to apply to USC Chan, as well as for your dedication towards pursuing a career in occupational therapy.
I know that the waitlist entails a lot of uncertainty and that it’s not necessarily a yes or a no. However, although it is a very gray area, there is still a chance for you to be admitted off of the waitlist! Quite a number of my classmates were actually admitted off of the waitlist. The thing is that there’s the wait. The wait varies between each applicant and each application cycle. Along with other factors, it also depends on how much space is available to fill the incoming class. That’s the catch with the waitlist though — it’s very unpredictable and really, anything can happen at any time.
Some of you may have applied to USC Chan as your only option and others of you may have offers from other programs. I’ve been in very similar situations and can imagine that you might be feeling frustrated, disappointed, or even heartbroken. When I first applied, I was rejected with no option to be part of the waitlist. It was a devastating moment, but it gave me the opportunity to take a gap year and reapply the following year. I felt that it was a chance for me to show how much I grew from that experience and how ready I was to take on this new journey. Then, after reapplying, I was placed on the waitlist. Except this time I had other schools waiting to hear back from me about their offers, and I was just so conflicted. “Should I accept the offer from this other school, or should I keep waiting?” I decided to wait all the way until the start date of the program, and I’m very grateful that it ended up working out for me. However, it was incredibly difficult for me to wait that long, and I know that not everyone can afford that amount of time.