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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


Calvin’s Declassified Chan Division Survival Guide ⟩
, by Calvin

Life Hacks

As much as I’ve been enjoying my time spent in grad school so far, I confess that there have been, and definitely still are, moments when I struggle to keep up. Back when I had just started the program, I felt a daunting amount of pressure to be that student who had good grades, who was getting involved, and so on. I didn’t want my peers to think that I was falling behind or that I wasn’t as passionate as them. I had put up a front as if everything in my life was balancing out perfectly. In reality, though, all of my self-doubt and imposter feelings had knocked me down to a low point where I felt undeserving of being here.

I needed to pause and reflect in order to understand why I was experiencing these feelings. As I collected my thoughts, I realized that my reasons weren’t aligned with my values. I associated an “A” grade with the incentive of validation and I connected heavy involvement as the only method of gaining opportunities. However, the truth of the matter is that I don’t need to be reaffirmed by letter grades to know that I’ve worked hard, and there are multiple avenues to finding opportunities and getting involved. We’re all here to become occupational scientists and occupational therapists! How we get there is up to us, so let’s live our lives to our fullest!

I wish I had guidance on this earlier on, so I want to provide some tips and reminders that I think will help with treading the waters of graduate school:

Your health comes first:

  • Being a student means keeping ourselves academically accountable, but we should also be prioritizing our wellness. I’ve found that setting boundaries and understanding my own mental and physical capacities have enabled me to excel in so many ways!

Get involved for you:

  • Last week, I co-presented at the Student Organization Fair on behalf of the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC). During the Q&A portion, first-year students expressed their concerns about getting involved in terms of time management, overcommitment, and staying on top of school. In response, we second-year students, along with Dr. Rafeedie, echoed sentiments of doing what you can and how your experiences are what you make of it. However you choose to get involved will ultimately help you and respective organizations move forward in leadership!

It’s okay to say “no”:

  • You may feel like turning down opportunities will hurt your chances of getting more in the future, but really, sometimes we just have to say “no”. There are moments when I feel so overwhelmed and unsure about taking on more responsibilities, that saying “yes” may only exacerbate the outcome. By giving myself options, I’ve become a more effective communicator and a better manager of my time.

Reach out and check in:

  • Now more than ever, getting in touch with peers, faculty, and staff, has proven to be an essential aspect of my life. Feeling sensitive, vulnerable, and in need of support, is natural. When I allow myself to open up, I feel a sense of relief and find that others may even connect with my feelings on a mutual level.

You don’t have to have all the answers:

  • As a second-year student, I’ve been feeling the pressure of having to provide the best responses to questions that come my way. Realistically though, I don’t know everything, and that’s okay. There is beauty in not knowing and even more so in the adventure of learning and being curious!

Embrace your qualities:

  • I am a huge overthinker! I had always seen this as a weakness, but more recently, I’ve redefined it into a quality that I cherish. Now, I see it more like thinking thoughtfully and putting in the effort to understand. We all have our own unique set of qualities, so let’s appreciate and celebrate them!

Be real with yourself:

  • I used to be such a people pleaser, but I realized that I can’t give everyone what they want. It’s still hard, but being more realistic with myself has helped me cope with my struggles and it’s reminded me that I should be doing things for me. Stay true to yourself because you are the only you and no one else knows you better than you do!

This journey of self-discovery is never-ending. I’m growing and learning more about myself every day and, although graduate school can get tough at times, it has taught me valuable lessons that I will carry on throughout life. So, to all of you prospective students, current students, and anyone else: we are in this together and you are not alone!


A Day in the Life (Zoom Edition) ⟩
, by Calvin

Classes Videos

Calvin is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: Calvin’s Corner

Connecting . . .

Hey everyone! Today, I’ll be unmuting and starting my video to show you all a day in my life as a USC Chan Occupational Therapy Student (Zoom Edition)! In this vlog, I invite you into my typical Tuesday where you can see what courses I’ve been taking, what student organizations I’ve been participating in, and so much more. I was actually inspired by our division’s very own Student Vlogger, Caroline Kim, when she posted a day in the life video on the USC Chan YouTube Channel! You can go check out her video here!

I hope that this gives you a good glimpse into my Zoom life and what the program is like right now. Hopefully, I can continue finding the time to make more videos for the “Calvin’s Corner” series, but for now, please enjoy!


Black Lives Matter ⟩
, by Calvin


It’s been an extremely unfortunate time right now and I know that so many of us are going through a lot of emotions. Like many of you, I feel disappointed, angry, frustrated, and scared by the current events surrounding the unfair deaths of Black lives. As I’m watching the news on the ensuing nationwide protests for social justice, I’m witnessing the collective trauma being experienced by many, and I am also reflecting on how I can help.

I am proud to be part of the Chan Community, where the USC Chan Division has been committed to addressing these matters by fostering an inclusive educational environment, sharing multiple resources, and holding safe space meetings. It’s reassuring to know that our community is being supported by the division and I’m very much looking forward to attending these meetings.

As an Asian American, I used to believe that this was not my place to speak up and that this was not my fight. I believed that if I felt like I was going to say something wrong, then I shouldn’t say anything at all. In the past, I was silent and scared to have these difficult conversations with my friends and family. I remember times when friends would use derogatory language against certain communities and when my immigrant family members would share their opinions without first attempting to understand. I didn’t say a word to try and correct them. I wasn’t able to resist my complacency.

Throughout my upbringing, I had internalized anti-blackness and my mind was shrouded by the model minority narrative that continues to divide Asian and Black communities. This myth grants exploitative privileges that are weaponized against Black and Latinx communities. I was ignorant to be part of such a detrimental perception that downplays racism in the struggles of other minority groups, especially Black people.

However, as I have grown and reflected on myself and my privilege, I have come to realize that there are many ways to practice allyship in solidarity. By acknowledging the internalized racism embedded within myself and my culture, I have been able to reflect on my actions and challenge my assumptions. I’ve also been trying to promote this dialogue with my family to educate them on the injustices that Black people face. While I am grateful that they are gradually starting to be more open to talking about these topics, I also know that this is just the first step.

Black communities continue to experience barriers to their occupational rights and they continue to have their lives senselessly taken away by authorities who thrive off of this unjust system. It’s very clear that we are still fighting against systemic racism and acts of oppression, and it is so important, and has always been, that we organize and mobilize together in order to educate ourselves and support the Black community.

As future OTs, part of our work is to create a space to listen to the voices of those who are marginalized and oppressed, and to those who don’t have a voice, so that we can help advocate for them. However, we must also challenge people’s assumptions, acknowledge when there is boundary-crossing, and utilize our leadership to foster a supportive and safe environment for our clients and colleagues.

I hope that you can join me in taking this time to reflect and ask ourselves these questions:

  • What can I do to continue putting in this effort?
  • How can I use anti-racist knowledge to start this dialogue?
  • How can I inform myself to continue thinking about these topics?

Here, I share with you all a document that contains links and additional resources to educate yourself, sign petitions, donate, and so many other ways for you to take action. I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy and that you’re able to take care of yourselves as needed.

Thank you.


How High School Got Me into OT School ⟩
, by Calvin

What are OS/OT?

Hi everyone!

First and foremost, I hope that you are all doing well; staying safe and healthy during these times. There’s been so much unprecedented change in such little time, but know that we will all get through this together! I am very excited to be writing my first blog post as a student ambassador, and what better way to start off this new journey than to talk about how I got here at USC’s #1 ranked occupational therapy program!

So as you can assume through the title, I was actually introduced to occupational therapy pretty early on. During my senior year of high school, one of my courses required me to present on a potential career that I wanted to pursue. However, I was just a high school student, so what did I know? The thought of a career had never fully crossed my mind, plus I hadn’t even started college yet! I had the general idea of working in healthcare and helping people in some capacity, but I didn’t necessarily know the specifics.

Thankfully, a good friend of mine was aware that I was struggling and suggested that I look into occupational therapy. She thought that my personality would be a great fit and even introduced me to their cousin, who is actually a pediatric occupational therapist that completed USC Chan’s Entry-Level Master’s program. I was able to interview them and, during our conversation, I was captivated by their passion for the profession. Later on, I was able to volunteer at their outpatient pediatric clinic where I witnessed occupational therapists helping their clients live life to the fullest in such fun and creative ways. The innovation, holistic approach, and unique lens were all factors that resonated with my values and interests, and at that moment, I knew that OT was my calling.

Afterward, I went on to complete my undergraduate education, took a year off, traveled, worked, and I also volunteered in various occupational therapy settings, such as inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient pediatrics, and hand therapy. Then, I got into OT school, and the rest is history (of course, I’ll elaborate more about this in future blog posts, so stay tuned)! To this day, I am so grateful to that senior project and to my friend for introducing me to occupational therapy. Because of that one experience, I grew to understand the complexities and multifaceted layers of occupations and that my every day, taken-for-granted activities actually hold so much meaning. I am blessed to be at this tremendous program where my commitment to OT is consistently affirmed by faculty, staff, and my fellow colleagues.

I’ve learned beyond what I expected throughout my first year in the program, and I am so excited to continue learning more about the profession as I enter into my second year! There are many more stories I have to tell and I honestly can’t wait to share them with you all! Thanks for tuning into my first ever blog post and please feel free to reach out to the student ambassador’s email, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), if you have any questions or concerns; we are here to support you!

Fight On and Stay Well!

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