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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 Building Blocks of the Pre-Master’s Program ⟩
February 14, 2020, by Japeth

Admissions Diversity International Videos

Coming from a country where English language is not the official language may be difficult for some students who intend to go abroad for continuing education. This is what I also felt when I was still applying to the program. Questions such as “Will I be able to speak confidently?” or “Can I express myself and my thoughts properly?” were always on my mind. International students also need to take an English Proficiency Exam (IELTS or TOEFL) and must reach a score that is accepted by the department. This requirement is difficult, to be honest! Aside from this, students who are planning to enter graduate school must also take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), which includes questions about analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. This exam is just equally difficult, if not more, as the IELTS or TOEFL.

For interested international students who might be worried on their performance on these tests, don’t fret! I am happy to share about USC’s Pre-Master’s Program, which aims to help students improve their performance and scores!

Below is a video featuring Yen Ting Ni and Yi Fan Lin, both went through the Pre-Master’s program before joining this year’s Post-Professional MA in OT cohort.

I hope this video is helpful to future applicants and students! Also, I would like to share with you about what changes the Admissions Team has been doing! The admissions team headed by Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh, together with Dr. Kristin Nxumalo and Dr. Amber Bennett, has changed how admissions look like! USC Chan has moved towards what we call the “new admission holistic process”, where all components of the admission criteria are given equal importance and value.

Fight On!


Lifestyle Redesign®: From Theory to Reality ⟩
February 1, 2020, by Japeth


One of the many reasons why I came to USC is because of the Lifestyle Redesign® course elective. As an occupational therapy practitioner in my home country, I felt as though my role in targeting health and wellness promotion is still quite unclear. I knew that OTs have a huge role in such area, but to me, I just did not know where, when, and how I can advocate for myself in this field.

I learned about Lifestyle Redesign® — an approach in occupational therapy that allows clients to achieve health, behavior, or lifestyle changes — through a friend who also took this course years ago. Finally, this semester, I am taking this elective course and all I can say is it is just amazing! Dr. Dieterle teaches with so much passion and she makes sure that the class is interactive. The class flows this way:

  1. On the first day of this class, we started with a little introduction about ourselves and our reason for taking this course; during the second session and onwards, we start the class with a recap of last week’s session.
  2. Dr. Camille Dieterle will discuss the topic for the day. It could be about how to use different assessment tools or how to utilize specific strategies and intervention.
  3. We also get to practice this approach with our classmates. We are grouped into a triad and let’s name the students as A, B, and C. So, student A will be the therapist of student B; student B will be the therapist of student C; and student C will be the therapist of student A.

My therapist and I are now on our third week of session. During the first session, she interviewed me to create an occupational profile that was very holistic. During that session, I informed her about my adjustment with the new semester. I find this semester quite overwhelming, but still very manageable. We are working on a goal about rest and sleep, which includes creating a night routine.

I appreciate how my therapist gives so much attention to me and to my goal. She makes sure that every session that we have is interactive and client-led. She gives me worksheets about rest, sleep, and even drafting a routine. Last session, she gave a sleep checklist that I can fill up at night before I sleep and the morning after — this is to keep me in check!

Here’s to achieving a healthier mind and body this 2020!! Fight on!


Winter Break with the cohort! ⟩
January 17, 2020, by Japeth

Life Hacks Living in LA

After the stressful finals week, some of my classmates organized an out-of-state trip to Utah to visit two national parks: Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. Driving to Utah takes about 8 to 9 hours, depending on the traffic, speed, and of course the rest breaks! So, we decided to do a stop over in Las Vegas and to eat lunch there, since Las Vegas is also known for its sumptuous buffets everywhere. By the way, driving from LA to Vegas takes about 4 to 5 hours.

Everyone smiling after eating a sumptuous meal!

A groufie after eating so much!

After having lunch, we all decided to go back on the road and head to Utah. From Las Vegas to Utah, it took us almost five hours to get there. On the way to Utah from Vegas, we passed by Arizona — and the view is very relaxing! I am sharing some snaps of the view but my apologies if they are unclear, since the car was moving when I took them. 

The photo shows the view while passing by Arizona on our way to Utah.

We didn’t mind the long drive from Las Vegas to Utah since the view while passing by Arizona was really beautiful.

Another photo that shows the view while passing by Arizona on our way to Utah.

Naturesque indeed!

We rented an Airbnb and surprisingly, the house was big enough to accommodate us all. One thing that made the house extra special was the hot tub that was available for use!

Just a group photo of those who are enjoying the hot tub.

My friends living the life! What better way to enjoy the hot tub than by pairing the experience with some juice and chips?

First day: Off to Zion National Park

In this national park, you can choose as many trails a you want to enjoy; but given our time shortage, we chose one of the easiest but beautiful trails there was: The Watchman Trail. This trail typically takes about less than 3 hours going back and forth. However, it took us more than four hours because we enjoyed so much on taking pictures almost in every good spot we find along the way.

The author's photo after finishingthe trail with the trail's name on the sign.

This is just my happy face after we finished trailing!

A group photo with the mountain on the background.

This is one of the group photos that we took while trailing. We don’t look tired here . . . yet!

Another group photo with the mountain on the background but with more snow on the ground.

Another group photo! This time, it was colder since we encountered more snow while trailing. We had to wear our snow chains because there were some areas that were covered with ice, and it is so easy to slip when you don’t have the chains on. The cold bothered me, as seen on the picture I can’t even concentrate and look at the camera. LOL

When we finally reached the top, of course, we took more photos! We stayed on top for 30 minutes, enjoying the view while eating our snacks. The snow covering the mountains made the view extra beautiful. The sun being extra sunny that day, helped so much in braving the cold weather.

A group photo as we reached the top of the trail.

We are finally at the top! Tip: according to the locals, the best time to visit is winter since not a lot of people visit because of the very cold weather.

To end the day, we looked for a local coffee shop to warm ourselves up; and even the coffee shop did not fail to surprise us! The place was so beautiful, and they have a balcony area where you can sit outside, have your coffee, while looking at the lake and mountains.

The author's picture at the coffee shop's balcony. The background shows the beautiful scenery.

Good view + good coffee = good mood!

Day 2: Bryce Canyon National Park – Sunrise Trail

This trail was amazingly beautiful as well! We started from the top and we trailed down. Just when I thought that in order to see the beautiful view, we need to reach the top first, this trail proved me otherwise. Going down from the top made me appreciate the scenic view too! It goes to show that sometimes, we shouldn’t just focus on the beginning or the end; rather, we can also focus on the journey and enjoy every moment with the people we are with.

The author with two of his friends while they go down the trail.

A groufie with my classmates Elijah and Maggie. Everyone went ahead of us at this point.

Here are photos of us before and after the hike!

Group photo before going down.

This is our group photo before we started trailing down. The amazing people made the view extra beautiful!

Group photo after going down.

Mixed emotions after finishing the trail. LOL

From the visitor center near the starting point of the Sunrise Trail, we drove a few miles from there going to Sunset Point — another point at the national park where the sunset is really gorgeous.

Group photo at sunset point.

Although the sunset may not be clearly seen in this picture, I can still vividly see it in my memory. Everyone was just busy enjoying the view, and of course, each other’s company.

This trip will always have a special place in my heart and memory. Being with my classmates outside the classroom was a different kind of experience. It was a joy to be with them for several days and I certainly wish for more trips with them. Also in this trip, two other Trojan friends joined us: Nana Lin who is a Masters in Microbiology and Immunology student, and Eden Lin who is also doing her Masters in Computer Science.

Until our next adventure, Fight On!


I am thankful for . . . ⟩
November 25, 2019, by Japeth

International Living in LA

November is thanksgiving season in American culture, and what better way to celebrate it than by having dinner with friends at the USC Chan division? Last Friday (November 22), the Global Initiatives team was thoughtful enough to organize an early thanksgiving dinner with the students and some faculty and staff of USC Chan. It was a wonderful way for us to de-stress and be with everyone. Everybody found something to do to help as we prepared the food!

Everyone doing the Fight On sign before getting started with the meal prep

Before doing the meal prep, its always best to start it by taking a group photo while doing the Fight On pose! In this group photo, Dr. Emily Ochi, the MA1 Program Director and Bianca Ojeda, USC Chan’s social event program coordinator, showed the inner Trojan in them by also doing the fight on pose!!

Students posing with some ingredients

Katie Miller, MA2 student and also a member of USC Chan’s Global Initiatives together with MA1 students, Raffy Wagas, Lin Hung-Yi, Pan Yen-Wen, Hasmin Palo, and Yvonne Lin (from L-R).

Student doing design-your-own cookie

MA1 students designing their own cookies! That’s me right there!!

Japeth Dia, the student ambssador showing his finished product. The cookies say I love OT

Here’s my photo showing the cookies that I designed . . . well I am not artistic to begin with and that’s the best that I could do! LOL

MA1 girls just posing with their best smiles

MA1 ladies showing their “girls just wanna have fun” look! Indeed, they look like they’re having sooo much fun!

Picture of the turkey

Of course, this is everyone’s favorite — turkey!!

I asked my friends who grew up here about thanksgiving and their answer in a nutshell is . . . it’s a time for us all to think of what has been great and why you’re thankful about it; some may also consider what did not work out or what failed if they see it as a blessing in disguise.

Honestly, when you’re facing a lot of stress and tons of schoolwork to do and on top of that, life gets in the way — what is there to be thankful about, right? But again, how we perceive things greatly affects how we feel and how we react to them. Last week too, while I was hearing the mass, the priest was preaching on how to live not on the ‘what if’, but live on the ‘even if’. Is this the universe trying to intervene? Hmmm.

With that being said, I took some time to do a thanksgiving reflection, and what I realized is something that I cannot discredit myself: one thing that happened to me this year that I am most thankful for is being able to take my MA and being able to thrive in a totally new environment. It’s difficult but it’s doable, especially if you are with the right people!

Group photo of everyone who joined the dinner

Life may be difficult at times, but being with the right people helps a lot. To me, these are the right people and I am so blessed to have them!

If I may ask you, what are you thankful for?


We don’t want tricks; we just want treats! ⟩
November 13, 2019, by Japeth

International Living in LA

As someone from the other side of the world, I haven’t had a legit Halloween experience. So when my cohort asked if we were down for some trick or treating, we immediately said yes! Everyone was just so excited because it was something that’s new to most of us.

Last Halloween, we had two celebrations: the first one was during our Quantitative class and the second one was when we went to Pasadena to do trick or treats. Dr. Myka Persson organized a potluck lunch for the MA1 cohort. We brought our food to share to everyone and Dr. Myka baked Halloween pumpkin cookies using their own family recipe! It was really delicious . . . like I ate 4 of it. I love how our professors at USC Chan practice occupational balance.

Now this is the part that I always look forward when blogging – sharing with you all the pictures!

Andrea Abad channeling her inner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson!

This is Andrea Abad channeling her inner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson!

A couple who dressed up as each other

This is one of my personal favorites! These classmates of mine are actually married to each other and for their first Halloween experience, they decided to dress up as each other! Mr. Lin Hung-Yi dressed up as Ms. Pan Yen-Wen and vice versa!

The man is dressed up as a target salesperson and the lady as student loans

The guy in red is Elijah Ramos, a target salesperson; and the lady is Prutha Satpute, dressed up as student loans!

The man is dressed up as a soy sauce brand named Kikkoman and the lady dressed up as a sushi

Reuben Raynes as Kikkoman and Czaria Biagtan as a sushi. This made me crave some Japanese food!

Group class photo

This photo was taken after our occupational science class.

Until our next adventure, Fight On!

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