University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog | Kat

Kat

February is Over, Black History is not!
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“Black history is American history” — Morgan Freeman

February is over. But that does not mean that we as a country should stop celebrating Black history and Black culture. During February, many events took place on campus at USC to celebrate Black History Month. Clubs such as the BGSN, the CBCSA, and the BSA held a variety of festivals, hosted guest speakers, and career networking opportunities in the spirit of Black History Month.

One specific event that I participated in was the Black Pharmacy Society’s “The Black Experience in Healthcare: Challenges and Opportunities”. This event was a panel composed of current Black students from various disciplines that spoke on their experience of being a student of color at USC. I am honored to say that I was on this panel. The fields of occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistants, medicine, pharmacy, and dentistry were all well represented. Meaningful conversation surrounding imposter syndrome, the importance of mentorship and representation were a few of the topics discussed. Seeing people who look like you in different fields is very important. For those that may not know, imposter syndrome is “the feeling that you haven’t earned your success, you simply got lucky, and you’re a fraud or ‘imposter’ around people who actually earned it and know what they’re doing” (cited from empowerwork).

Imposter syndrome was discussed from the perspective that sometimes Black students feel as though they are imposters in their respective fields due to the lack of representation within their fields. These students feel as though they are not and will not be able to compete with their counterpart peers. These feelings can be overwhelming, isolating, and can have rippling effects to the success of Black students, or any student experiencing imposter syndrome.

However, I believe Maya Angelou’s quote, “the more you know of your history, the more liberated you are,” calls students, in this case specifically Black students, to look to history for empowerment. Students may be the first in their family to go to college, graduate school, or may be the only Black student in class. But let’s take a look at history:

These are only a few of the firsts in America that belong to the Black community. I do not mention these first to compare the Black community to other communities. I state these facts to empower all minority students to stand together, be great, and keep breaking barriers. Be the first. Be the best. Black history should serve as an inspiration to us all.

“Black history is American history” — Morgan Freeman

Pictured are 9 Black students who spoke on the panel

Pictured are the panelists from the Black Pharmacy Society event. (All individuals pictured agreed to be shown with this article.)

Kat

I was running (Forrest Gump voice*)
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Pictured is an Apple Watch with the distance of 5 miles, pace 9 minutes and 53 seconds, and total run time 49 minutes and 59 seconds.

I found my Zen after this run yesterday!


50 minutes of running? Wild right?! Just 3 months ago, I would have laughed that I could have ran for this long. Balancing school, work, a social life, and self-care can be mad difficult at times. There is always readings to do, emails to send, and people to text. But I have recently found that running helps clear my mind. Running helps keep me sane and active. I feel accomplished when I make time to run because I feel like I am managing my time well, I feel more confident in my ability to take care of my body, and I feel empowered when I do something for ME! Before starting my running journey, I had no idea how much stress I carried in my body, both mentally and physically. On my runs, especially the long runs, it is just me, my thoughts, and my music. Eminem said it best, “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you better never let it go”. I do get lost in the music and the moment during my runs. Everyone needs a way to release and relieve stress. Running is my way. Staying organized, working ahead on assignments, and prioritizing my responsibilities helps me take care of me. When I run, it means I am taking care of all of these things. It is easy to get lost in the sauce of grad school. Don’t be afraid to try out new activities and explore what helps keep your well-being balanced. I had no interest in running growing up. Now I am up to 5 mile runs and love it. Almost to Forrest Gump status. Time to catch these miles!

 

Kat

Electives and Field Trips
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Second semester of your second year in the OT program at USC is the freedom semester! This is when you are tasked with a difficult yet rewarding, complicated yet exciting, cut throat task of choosing… drumroll pleaseeee… your own electives!! Having the freedom to choose electives is kind of a double edged sword. There are so many great electives to choose from. There’s early intervention, acute care, motor rehab, to name a few. You can even opt to take elective courses on the main campus in other departments. Let’s say you are interested in running your own clinic one day, so maybe you take a business course. Second semester of your second year is meant for students to take lead in their learning and pursue topics and subjects that align with their interests and their future careers. If you are like me though, every class sounds interesting, which is why making a decision on what to take can be so difficult. There are still a few courses that are required, however, you get to choose how to fill up the rest of your credits.

Anywaysss…one of the classes I am taking right now is OT 571 Assistive Technology with Dr. Colin Lenington. Today in class we had the opportunity to go to Mobility Evaluation Program in the city of Bell where we met with individuals who specialize in helping people with disabilities be independent with their driving. During our field trip (Field trips in grad school? What??), my class and I were able to learn about some of the cool adaptive equipment that can be used to help people with varying disabilities to drive. If you think about it, driving is such an integral part of our everyday occupations, especially here in LA. It was such an eye opening experience for me. I had no idea this type of equipment was out there. As a class, we even had the opportunity to see the assistive tech we learned about in use with 2 clients that were there to demonstrate their personalized equipment.

I am not sure the specific realm of OT I want to go into yet. But I do know that I was blown away by the impact that helping someone with a task that I take for granted, driving, can have on an individual who navigates through the world differently than I do. Long story short, I am excited to see what else I learn in OT 571 Assistive Technology, along with my other courses. Cheers to an exciting semester… and to hopefully figuring out what area of OT I want to go into.
Check out my class and some assistive tech! 

Pictured is the current Assistive Technology class with two clients from the visited site

My Assistive Technology class with 2 clients that shared their experience with us. We are so grateful for their willingness to share with us! (Photo shared with permission from all individuals depicted)

Pictured is an adapted steering wheel to allow clients to drive in the horizontal plane instead of the usual vertical plane

Here is an example of an adapted steering wheel a client may need to allow them to drive in a horizontal plane versus the “typical” vertical plane. This type of steering wheel is similar to what is seen on school buses. The steering is situated over the client’s lap as opposed to being mounted on the dashboard. On the floor of the car, you can also see where a wheelchair can be secured in place instead of the original car seat.

Kat

Fight on in Fieldwork ✌
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October 21st -October 25th… my full week of fieldwork…
This semester, for my adult rehab level I fieldwork, I was placed at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. A moment of honesty… prior to this placement I had little knowledge about what OT’s did in the hospital setting. I remember walking in on my first day in scrubs and not knowing what to expect. On my first day I got put to the test though! My CI (clinical instructor) had a patient that was in the ICU (intensive care unit) who she was going to co-treat with a PT. The patient’s case was quite complicated and they needed help. I helped manage the patient’s lines (meaning I helped with all of the IV’s and tubes) as the OT and PT helped the patient sit on the edge of his bed. This small task of managing a patient’s lines gave me great insight into the impact that an acute inpatient OT can have on a person. Throughout my time at St. John’s I have learned that OT’s in the hospital setting are essential to the safety and quality of life of patients. Not only do they ensure that a patient can be safe with their self-care routine, but they also help develop or fine tune the skills necessary for patients to be able to continue participating in the activities that are important to them—their meaningful occupations!

During my full week, I was able to see so many things. I was in the inpatient wings, the NICU (with the wittle babies!), and also had a trip down to the ER to see what a respiratory therapist does and how their work can influence the work an OT does. I was busssyyy! But I had so much fun. Also, how cool is it that my CI is an alumni from USC?! I can honestly say that I am blessed to be shadowing and working with the AMAZING Ally Buescher. I have learned so much from her. She has high expectations for me as a level I student which is pushing me to develop my clinical reasoning skills. She also has so much knowledge about the field and about the program at USC, which is helpful when I have a million questions.

USC has a deep line-up when it comes to networking. USC releases talented OT’s into the world and many of them host students for their fieldwork. We literally have people everywhere! National and international possibilities are available. It is nice to know that as a student, I am well taken care of by the fieldwork coordinators here in the Chan Division. The fieldwork opportunities I have been able to experience so far have been one of a kind. My first ever level I fieldwork experience was a competitive Skid Row Housing Trust position where I was mentored by the renowned Dr. Deborah Pitts! This specific mentorship was made possible because of a city grant that was established for the Fall of 2018. Here’s a little more info about level I fieldwork

Long story short, my full week of fieldwork was a blast and USC offers remarkable fieldwork experiences!

Pictured is me with my CI from fieldwork holding up the Fight On sign

Ally and I reppin that Trojan life! Fight on! ✌  PS, we coordinate our shoe game

 

Kat

Finding my Squad in Black Excellence
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This past weekend I went to the Black Graduate Student Network’s (BGSN) Kick the Day Back event. It was lit and I had so much fun! I had the opportunity to meet other Black grad students, network, and had a great time doing so. USC BGSN is a student organization that emphasizes “building a family we can utilize as a network”. This resonates with me as a Black student in the OT program. Finding community and belonging can be difficult. But having student orgs like BGSN that put on events that promote unity and community make it a lot easier for a minority student like myself. This past weekend I met PhD pharmacy, law, and masters of education in PASA students. It was an incredible feeling to be in a room filled with Black excellence. The BGSN hosts a variety of events throughout the school year such as their upcoming tailgate that will be held on the quad at the main campus this Saturday (10/19/19). They even have Spotify playlists you should check out for great music

During my undergraduate studies, it was easier to find communities I belonged to because of living on campus, sports I participated in, and having classes everyday. Graduate school is a whole new ball game when it comes to finding your niche. Luckily USC offers a number of student orgs specifically for the minority population such as the LatinX Student Assembly (LSA) and the Sistah Circle. The Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs (CBCSA) is a great resource for Black students looking for empowerment and engagement with campus life.

After this weekend, I know I found my crew with the BGSN! Periodt!
Don’t be afraid to branch out, be social, and find your squad, if you haven’t already.

Pictured are friends I made this week at the BGSN event, Cas Walker and Celeste Brown

Friends I made this week at the BGSN event (Cas Walker and Celeste Brown) #blackgirlmagic

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