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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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Unity in the CommunOT


August 7, 2020

Getting Involved

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With everything being fully remote this summer, there was some worry about how the Chan community would stay connected since we’re all so used to seeing each other in person. The new first-year students were also feeling uneasy because of their unexpected introduction through the online platform. There was an apparent need for support within the division, and thus the Chan Community Commission (CCC) came to fruition!

The CCC was designed to support and promote a positive environment for all students, faculty, and staff of the Chan Division to come together. We partnered closely with Global Initiatives Team and the Diversity, Access, and Equity (DAE) Committee in hopes of creating events and spaces that were welcoming for all and that fostered improved health and well-being through greater interaction and social support. Over the course of the summer, the CCC offered events and activities that surrounded four categories: social experiences, advocacy, peer mentorship, and health and well-being.

Having witnessed the Chan community unify and continue to stay connected during these times was such a special experience. I had the pleasure and opportunity of being a part of the phenomenal CCC team and am very excited to recap on some of the things we’ve done these past few months!

1. Social Experiences

OT Trivia Night

OT Trivia Night

Students in the Chan community came together for a night of trivia in support of the Black Lives Matter movement

Around a month ago, students collaborated for a fun night of OT Trivia to raise money for organizations that support Black lives! There was a huge turnout for this event and we were able to donate over $600 to organizations including Color of Change, The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Loveland Foundation, and Black Trans Travel Fund. As future occupational therapists, it is our responsibility to stay educated on anti-racism and stand in solidarity with our Black clients, colleagues, and neighbors. Thank you to Master’s students, Jeffrey Palomino, Nora Dixon and Ellie Bendetson, for taking the lead in organizing and hosting this tremendous event!

The Passion Show

Passion Show

Here are some crowd favorites from the night of The Passion Show! | Pictured from left to right, top to bottom: Abraham Ramirez, Loree Pham, Shawyon Aminirad, Camille Chapus, John J. Lee, Dr. Myka Persson

The Chan community was invited to create 5 minute PowerPoint presentations on what they’re passionate about and, WOW, did they deliver! Individuals shared their passions ranging from potatoes, photography, Coldplay, trail running, cake, kombucha, sparkling water, fishing, art, conspiracy theories, wine tasting; the list LITERALLY goes on! Thank you to the presenters and audience members for coming through that night! Thank you to Dr. Kelcie Kadowaki, Dr. Kristin Nxumalo, and my boss, Kim Kho, for coming through too; you all rock 😊! Shoutout to Dr. Myka Persson for her unforgettable presentation on ocean swimming and for sharing about her encounter with a shark! Overall, it was such a fun time putting together and hosting this event with Jeffrey Palomino, Shawyon Aminirad, Maggie Goodfellow, Brendan LaScala and John J. Lee!

2. Advocacy

Advocacy Committee Presentations


Representatives from student organizations hosted information sessions to inform everyone about OT’s role in advocacy. | Pictured from left to right: Heidi Lee, Lamoni Lucas, Jenna Freeman, Sarah Morris, Mil Wajanakunakorn, Kayla Johari

In the “Let’s Talk About Advocacy” information session, student representatives from AOTA, OTAC, OTSC, OT Speaks, and COTAD united to discuss why advocacy is important in occupational therapy and what students can do to get involved. In the “OT Speaks Discussion Forum”, the Chan Advocacy Committee and OT Speaks collaborated in holding a discussion forum to educate students on legislative bills that will impact the future of OT practice and provide tangible ways to advocate. Thank you to these wonderful student leaders for opening up a dialogue about OT’s role in advocacy and for empowering students to pursue their advocacy interests!

3. Peer Mentorship

Mentorship Circles

Peer Mentorship

Some mentorship circles met up on Zoom to hang out, share some advice, play games, and just destress overall!

This Mentorship Circle program was organized to help incoming first-year students transition to becoming a part of the USC Chan community, facilitate social connections with their peers, and have access to mentors! The circles provided, not only mentorship opportunities but also a space for students to get together and have a good time. This was such a unique opportunity for my co-mentor, Jessie Tien, and I to get to know the first-year students and be there as their support system. Although the CCC is coming to a close, we are happy to announce that Global Initiatives will be housing this program, which will be called “Friendtorship Circles”, and will continue to enhance them by including students from ALL Chan degree programs! Thank you to Master’s students, Kayla Johari and Sarah Morris, for all their hard work and dedication in facilitating and organizing these Mentorship Circles!

4. Health and Well-being

Terrific Tuesdays

Terrific Tuesdays

Second-year Master’s student, Sydney Bast, hosted Zoom workout sessions for all to join! | CCC Newsletter Page by Heidi Lee MA ‘21

Along with being a student, Sydney is also a Certified Functional Strength Coach and we were very excited to have her on board to lead “Terrific Tuesdays” on behalf of CCC health and well-being! Everyone that joined her workouts said that they were amazing and you can actually check out her fitness Instagram @sydbastfitness. Thank you so much to Dr. Ashley Halle for taking the time out of her busy schedule to join in on the exercise fun!

Wellness Wednesdays

Wellness Wednesdays

Three OTD Residents hosted wellness workshops where they informed students on specific lifestyle topics! | CCC Newsletter Page by Heidi Lee MA ‘21

We invited doctoral residents from the USC Chan Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice (OTFP) to host “Wellness Wednesdays” workshops in order to inform the Chan community about how we can live optimal lifestyles, especially during this time. Topics were related to managing time and focus strategies while sheltering in place, setting up an ergonomic workstation at home, and managing stress and anxiety (especially in the unknown). We were so grateful to have, soon to be official OTDs, Serena Hobson, Vanessa Miller and Erin Bussell, impart their profound knowledge and expertise! Shoutout to master’s student Adam Strizich for avidly connecting everyone and for bringing these gatherings to life!

If you asked me a few months ago what I anticipated the summer semester was going to look like, I definitely would not have mentioned any of this! Seeing people really come together this summer was very reassuring and reminded me that we can overcome so much as a community. Thank you to Dr. Kristin Nxumalo, Dr. Daniel Park, Dr. Julie McLaughlin Gray and Dr. Samia Rafeedie for their unwavering support and for all the behind-the-scenes work they were involved in! Thank you to the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC) and Global Initiatives for graciously offering to continue the work of the CCC! Thank you to the CCC for working so hard to bring everybody together and for making this summer one for the books! Finally, CONGRATULATIONS to all who are about to officially wrap up this semester. Whether it be with work, classes, teaching, fieldwork, research or doctoral residencies, WE DID IT!!!!!