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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


The Trouble with Hello is Goodbye ⟩
May 13, 2020, by Japeth

Life Hacks What are OS/OT?

I have spent so much time just thinking about how to start this blog post. I do not exactly know what to say, where to begin, or how to turn my thoughts into words . . .

My experience at USC Chan has been amazing. It was a joy meeting new OT friends, learning from world-renowned researchers and experienced faculty, and awesome staff! Coming to USC I brought so many practical questions with me, as well as goals and target learning outcomes; and honestly, transitioning from being a practitioner to becoming a student again was quite a bit of an adjustment to me. But I thank the entire Chan community for creating a place where openness, passion, and compassion are intertwined; USC Chan felt like home to me and it will always be home to me.

To my favorite cohort — you all will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for a fun year!! I enjoyed every moment with you guys, from attending classes to having random korean bbq dinners! Some of your homes became our homes too (shoutout to Raffy and Lin!!!!) and I will surely miss trying out different food that you guys bring to class! Also, thanks to Dr. Ochi for leading the cohort and for guiding us since day 1!!

A collage of photos of the MA1 students

These photos were taken during the orientation, White Coat ceremony, and when we went to Dr. Ochi’s house for the Welcome BBQ Dinner. Time flies so fast when you’re enjoying!

A collage of photos of the MA1 students

I will miss walking around the campus with you guys! And if there’s one thing that could bind us all together, that is definitely food! (The photo on the top right was taken at Lin’s house when we went there to eat Taiwanese food that they cooked for us. Photo on the bottom left was taken when we went to Koreatown to eat seafood. Photo on the bottom right was when we tried Arabic food.)

To the amazing GI team — I have featured you in my previous blog posts and now I am featuring you again, and even if I were to write more blogs, I will never get tired of featuring you guys (cheesy I know LOL). It was a pleasure working with you all!! Your projects for Chan and for the international community are amazing.

A collage of photos of the Global Initiatives Team

No words can express how grateful I am to have worked with these amazing people! Here’s to more projects that aim to advance Occupational Therapy locally and internationally!!

To the best SA team — It was fun working with you in and outside of the office! Office hours did not feel long when we were at the office because you guys have so much to share and to talk about. To our boss, Kim, thank you for the opportunities you have given us! I will miss you, team!

Student Ambassador group photo

Student Ambassadors with Kim (Marketing head a.k.a big boss), Bianca (Events Coordinator), and Maggie (Events team member).

To these fellow Trojans who made sure that I am well and safe when I first got here — thank you so much for checking in always! I remember your overflowing support when I first applied to USC and I felt your excitement when my dream finally turned into a reality. I am lucky to have you guys. 

Student Ambassador group photo

On my left is Apple and on my right is Arielle; I met both of them during the WFOT Congress in South Africa and we became good friends. On the right most is Berry, who was one of my mentors back in undergrad in the Philippines and now my fellow Trojan!

To the Trojan friends I met outside of Chan Division — you guys made my year extra wonderful! I enjoyed every trip we did and every food we tried. I am proud to have friends like you who will surely become great researchers and health professionals!

To my friends from the MA2 program (especially Maggie, Calvin, and John Jae), and the OTD program (Michael, Emma, and Valentina) — You guys are awesome! Thanks for being an external source of happiness! I wish you good luck on your studies and professional careers!

USC Chan is a community where growth is fostered and a place where your potential is discovered. I am happy to be part of this community, now and forever. To everyone I met here, I will never regret exchanging our first hellos that led us to becoming lifelong friends. We may say goodbye for now, but I know we all can’t wait to say our next hellos.

I want to greet you all with “Mabuhay!”, a Filipino term that means “long live”. Mabuhay ka, USC (Long live, USC!) and Fight On, Trojans!


Courses at Chan: What Makes Each Trojan OT Unique ⟩
May 5, 2020, by Japeth

Classes Videos

One thing I really love about the Post-Professional Master of Arts in OT program at USC Chan is the liberty that we have as students to learn what we are really interested in. The program takes a year to complete and consists of two semesters: the Fall semester includes the core courses (these are the courses that you take together with the entire cohort) and the Spring semester includes two core courses and elective courses (these courses are specialty courses and students take what they are passionate about).

This spring semester, I decided to take the following courses: OT 560 Contemporary Issues in School-Based Practice, OT 583 Lifestyle Redesign, OT 565 Sensory Integration Interventions, and OT 568 Sensory Processing and Sensory Integration: Special Topics.

OT 565 and OT 568: I want to take this chance to say thank you to Dr. Janet Gunter and Dr. Joan Surfus for being amazing! The Sensory Integration Theory is not an easy theory to learn, and it even gets more difficult when you start learning how to use it during assessment and intervention, but these two professors made sure that we learn every concept and encouraged us to ask questions when we were quite confused. They give us coursework that are practical and useful and are very helpful in making us integrate theory into practice.

OT 560: Dr. Linsey Smith is a great teacher for me. Each module was equipped with up to date information about OT in the school setting, evidence-based interventions, and standardized assessments! I love how the course is properly organized according to the grade level from Early Intervention to High School transition, and it also included contents about interprofessional collaboration, professionalism management, and advocacy!

OT 583: Another “only at USC” course and also one of the best at Chan is the Lifestyle Redesign® elective. This course taught me how to manage myself as a person and as an OT, how to manage individual and group sessions that are very client-centered, and how to establish routines and habits through behavior change. This course is very empowering, and I appreciate how Dr. Camille Dieterle allows us to do return demonstrations during class.

(Disclaimer: You can take 10-12 units of elective courses, and mine is more than that because as a student, we are also allowed to overload.)

And finally, I am sharing this video project that USC Chan’s Post-Professional Master’s in OT 2020 created! We hope that this will be a useful resource to future students!


GI’s IG takeover! ⟩
April 14, 2020, by Japeth

Diversity International

First and foremost, I want to say that this blog post is dedicated to Global Initiatives, headed by Dr. Danny Park together with his team members James, Mariah, LiShan, Maggie, Katie, and Prutha. They have been doing a wonderful job in making the international students at USC Chan feel at home by organizing different activities (not to mention the free food that they always prepare!!!).

Some of the activities that we all enjoyed were:

  1. Global Corner (Meet and greet with local and international Chan students)
  2. Beach bonfire (I remember this happened around November and it was one of the best activities for me!)
  3. Thanksgiving dinner (It was their way of letting us feel the American culture during this occasion. I actually made a blog post about this!)
  4. Chinese New Year dinner (We had dinner in Chinatown together with faculty and staff; they also prepared games and activities)
  5. International Alumni Panel: Life after Graduation (This was supposed to be an in-person event, but due to the work-from-home set up, we had this online. It was an informative session where current international students like me, learn from alumni from different batches about tips on finding jobs, OPT processing, visa sponsorship, and many more!)

Sharing with you some snaps of the Life after Graduation event:

Actually, below is the highlight of this blog post — their latest Instagram Takeover where each of the team member has a day to show what their life is like! Being far from them and not having the usual bonding time that we used to enjoy makes me (and I’m sure the other students as well) really sad; but this takeover project made a way for us to know each other more despite the distance!! The photos below were just screen-captured from their official Instagram account. You may follow them on instagram (@uscchanosotglobal).

A picture of Maggie, a Global initiatives team member

This is Maggie, one of my good friends here in LA! We became close because we see each other often at the office and extended our hangouts by drinking boba and eating Asian food! I couldn’t agree more with you on your explanation about OT, Maggie!

A picture of Areli, a Global initiatives team member

Although Areli and I only started seeing each other at the office during spring semester, we already had fun conversations about life, school, and everything in between. She’s also a coffee lover! Nothing that a coffee can’t fix, right Areli?

A picture of LiShan, a Global initiatives team member

This is my small group leader LiShan! She was one of the first people who welcomed me at USC Chan and she also prepared a birthday cake for me last year during my birthday — that’s how thoughtful she is! Thanks for sharing some ergo tips too! We all can’t thank you enough for your thoughtfulness, LiShan.

A picture of Katie, a Global initiatives team member

No one can ever balance life better than this lady! Katie has organized many activities outside of school just to make sure that we are all enjoying our time here in LA. From oganizing fun activities to study session, Katie does it best! Thank you for allowing us to “Grow Together”!

A picture of Mariah, a Global initiatives team member

Greetings from Minnesota to the world! Mariah is one of the Doctoral residents under Global Initiatives (together with James, another good friend!). She always fascinates me with her insight about life, politics, economy, and many more! And oh, you just made me crave tacos, Mariah!!

And that’s just the first wave of their Instagram activities. Rumor has it that they will do another takeover where they will share their travel pictures — exciting!! I hope they have pictures where they do a Fight On pose!! LOL


A Whole New (Quarantine) World ⟩
March 30, 2020, by Japeth

Life Hacks

As occupational beings, we long for social interaction with family, peers, and even with unfamiliar people; we want to explore the world and be with nature; we want to establish our routines, plan for the coming weeks and months as we enjoy life day by day; and definitely, we all want to live life to the fullest! Can you imagine life when we can all do these things? Doesn’t it look perfect? Can you now imagine a life that does not allow us to do any of the said activities? Honestly, for me, I don’t need to imagine anymore — it is actually happening right here and right now.

The quarantine life has affected us in many, many ways: universities transitioned to online classes, companies decided to implement a work from home set up, restaurants and coffee shops are now only available for to-go orders, and so on. But what can we really do? As my wonderful professor Dr. Emily Ochi had told me before, this is something that nobody wanted, or this is nobody’s fault; but its effects and consequences are left for us to endure. And I think she is right — we are innocent victims of such circumstances and yet here we are still trying to keep things going! (Just a quick shout out to Dr Ochi, Dr. Danny Park and his Global Initiatives team, and the rest of the faculty and staff of USC Chan for checking in with us and for making sure that we are doing okay despite everything!!)

Just when I thought that my previous blog post was the most personal that I’ll be posting ever, I think this pandemic proved me wrong. Here are some tips (all based on my personal experience, so please don’t judge LOL), that you can do while being on quarantine:

  1. Check in
    The power of checking in has never been this appreciated to some people, including myself. Who would ever thought that a simple “Hey, how are you?” would mean the world? In stressful times like this, we do not know who to contact or communicate with since everyone is actually going through the same battle. We don’t want to give additional emotional or psychological baggage to our friends and family, because surely, they are also going through a lot. But I think having a support group or being with certain people (virtually) around you and making them feel that you are there for them and vice versa, makes a huge difference!
  2. Escape but always go back
    We are humans and humans as we are, the effects of stress can easily penetrate our mind and body. We should learn when to stop, when to take a break, and when to continue again. When you have so many things at hand and you feel overwhelmed, remember this saying: “Rest if you must but never quit!”
  3. Enjoy today and always try look forward to better days
    I know that when times get rough, it is just not easy to have fun and enjoy every moment. I know that uncertainty always has a way to ruin our mood, but I also know that we are bigger than our uncertainties in life. If today does not feel okay, maybe tomorrow will, or the day after tomorrow, or maybe next week! Funny how this sounds like, but there is always something better that is coming our way. Maybe my plans for this week or next week are ruined, but who said I don’t have the next month to make another set of plans?

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” — a line that represents all of us right now. We are tough and we will continue to thrive, even in the darkest of times. Fight On!

A screenshot of an online hangout by the post-professional master's students

Here is a group zoom photo of some of the students from the post-professional master’s cohort. Fight on from our screens to yours!


Sometimes life gets in the way — and it’s ok! ⟩
February 28, 2020, by Japeth

Life Hacks

Spring semester is almost over and my blogging life is halfway through. This area of work as a student ambassador has been a privilege and has served as a good way for me to share a bit of my life to all. This post is, by far, the most personal that I am posting; I am not one to post my thoughts and emotions online, but I feel like this post could be inspiring to everyone who might be going through a lot, all at once.

2019 was a good year to me: I was able to come to LA and take my MA at my dream university; I met so many friends from my cohort and other cohorts, and even outside of the Chan Division; I got the ambassador position which I really wanted; I am now specializing in the areas of OT that I am most interested in, and etc! So, how can one think that 2020 would be not so nice, right? When 2020 started, I had the most positive of thoughts I could ever think. However, as days and weeks unfold, I feel as though bad news just keep coming.

January-February have been really tough, not just for me but for most of the people I know. When bad times occur, we need to trust our coping mechanisms to help us get through the obstacles. Mine happens to be doing a lot of stress eating, retail therapy, or something spiritual like hearing a mass. In addition to these well-established coping strategies, I explored a new one this semester: self-talking. I think that it has been really helpful to me, especially in shaping my thoughts from a negative standpoint to becoming more positive, or at least to see the positive side of every awful situation.

My two takeaways in this entire two-month emotional and psychological rollercoaster ride would be:

  1. There will always be things and situations that will come our way and are definitely out of our control; but what we do have control in is how we react to them. One example I can share would be the cancellation of our international externship. I am sure that everyone is frustrated and sad about this. But when I thoroughly reflect on the situation, I realized that nobody wanted this to happen and we are all victims of such circumstance. Maybe the healthiest way to deal with this is to accept that we cannot change it; rather, we can find a solution.
  2. It is all about perspective. This is really difficult to practice because when we are under high levels of stress and tension, our perspective gets blurry. For me, it took me a long while to be able to really do this by heart. One time, Dr. Milman, one of USC Chan’s best professors, greeted me while we came across each other in the hallway. She asked me if I was having a good day since I was really smiling at her. All I said was, “You will have a good day if you think that it is a good day . . . perspective is everything!”

I have been using “Fight On” many, many times when I end a blog post, so now I want to end this one with the line that I have been telling my friends lately: “When you hit rock bottom, there is no way to go but UP!!!”

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