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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


Leaving Los Angeles . . . ⟩
May 12, 2014, by Kate

Fieldwork Living in LA

This summer, I am embarking on an adventure! I will be completing my second Level II fieldwork in Seattle. I am pretty excited, as I’ve never really lived in the Pacific Northwest. My parents moved to West Seattle in 2006, right when I graduated from USC (the first time). I will be moving in with them for the summer, living in the basement apartment of their house. My fieldwork is in Puyallup, at a children’s therapy clinic. I’m excited for a little bit more green scenery and some occasional raindrops! I’ve lived in Los Angeles since I came to USC in 2002 for undergrad, and it has been a truly magical experience. I love the weather — there is no place else like it in the world!! I also love the variety of experiences that LA offers — from the best restaurants, to the magic of Hollywood, to sunny beaches, to great hiking, to art and history, this city has a place in my heart. I know I will be back in August to begin my doctorate work, but it is going to be welcome adventure to experience something new for 12 weeks!

Which reminds me . . . It is my last day as a Student Ambassador! I have loved the last 9 months writing this blog and representing the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. I have learned and grown a lot, and now I am ready to accept my diploma this Friday. So, here’s to the future!! Cheers!


OMG: It’s The Comps!!! ⟩
April 30, 2014, by Kate


As master’s students, we are all going to be taking a test this coming Monday called the comprehensive exam, or the “comps.” The test covers 6 courses that we have taken during our 2 years here:

  • Neuroscience of Behavior
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Research
  • Health and Wellness
  • Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science
  • Leadership Capstone

We have 25 questions on each subject, adding up to an exam that is 150 multiple choice questions. It is a beast of a test, no doubt, and I am in the midst of battling it. Our comps are on Monday, May 5th at 9 am!!!

Our class has worked together to create study guides that cover each semester. There is information on dopamine pathways, qualitative research theory, sections of Medicare, statistics, and occupational science history. The study guides average 80 pages per class, and it is difficult to take in so much information, especially if it was in the fall of 2012. But, I know this is my final push before graduation and I will get out what I put in!

Every night, I’ve been studying a bit more, just trying to get through the study guides and impart the important points in each subject. Please wish me and my classmates luck as I continue on my study journey — and on our big test next Monday!

Ambassador Rob is studying hard for the comps!

Ambassador Rob is studying hard for the comps!


Reflections of my OT Journey ⟩
April 16, 2014, by Kate

There are 4 weeks and 2 days until our graduation ceremony. I can’t believe my last 2 years at USC is coming to an end. This is the culmination of a 3 year journey for me. I took a year off to take my pre-requisite courses and the GRE, to volunteer and apply to OT programs. And in May, I will walk the stage to receive my diploma. I know I have one more year here to work towards my OT doctorate degree, but it is still mind-boggling that I will have successfully completed the program soon and achieved one of my life’s biggest goals.

It’s times like this when I am able to reflect on what lead me to this position. I remember feeling out of balance and unhappy. I was stuck in a rut where I dreaded waking up in the morning, much less looking at my Blackberry and fearing the red light flashing indicating a new email. I knew I had to change, and I am so glad I took the giant leap into a new career. Navigating my way through pre-requisite courses at local community colleges was intense, not to mention actually taking classes like chemistry and anatomy, subjects that I had not covered since high school. Despite taking the easy route of going back to my old job and what felt familiar, I trudged on. And then I was accepted to USC and my hard work paid off!

As I begin to tie up loose ends here and there, gather my studying materials for our last tests and projects, and gear up for the giant comprehensive exam, I feel nothing but warmth for my 2 years that I’ve spent at USC as a graduate student. I could not have been happier for making the decision to quit my job and dive into something completely new. I have new friends, new skills and new confidence. I am ready to tackle whatever comes my way, and being here at USC has been such a huge part of that.


Practicing What I Preach ⟩
April 10, 2014, by Kate

Life Hacks School/Life Balance What are OS/OT?

In the past 2 years as a graduate student, I have learned skills I will need as a clinician, including how to use therapeutic communication and different therapeutic modes with different clients. I have learned how to ask the right questions and inquire about my patient’s interests, occupations and goals. I have learned to speak realistically, yet positively, and help people live healthier, happier and more productive lives. As the weeks between now and graduation narrow, and I as take the necessary steps to plan for my future, I ask myself if I am practicing what I preach to others.

How am I speaking to myself? How am I treating myself — my body and my mind? How am I spending my time? Am I devoting time to the occupations I value? Am I treating my friends and family in the same manner in which I would treat one of my patients? I want to change the conversation I am having with myself, especially as I gear up for what might be a stressful transition from graduate school to the “real world.”

This means taking the time and making the effort to exercise, exploring a local farmer’s market, buying myself fresh flowers every week, writing in my gratitude journal, seeing nature by taking a hike, drinking more water, and spending time with my friends that will lift me up and encourage me. Negativity is out the door. Positivity only! I want to create a balanced life for my patients, and I know that I need to lead by example. Cheers to that!


April is OT Month! ⟩
April 2, 2014, by Kate

Getting Involved

First, I’d like to wish everyone a HAPPY OT MONTH! Yes, April is the month that is dedicated to everything occupational therapy. Here at USC, we kicked off the celebrations on Monday with a celebratory picnic right outside of our building. It was a great way to come together as students, clinicians and faculty to relax in the sunshine and eat some pizza. It is USC tradition to create pin-on buttons that we collect and wear throughout the month. We also hand these out to family and friends. It’s exciting because there are new designs every year, as well as more traditional designs. This year we have a panda expressing his love for OT on a button as well as a tyrannosaurus rex with reachers professing his love for the profession. I’ve attached a picture of my stylish button arrangement from Monday’s picnic below!

This weekend is also our professional organization’s annual conference which is being held in Baltimore, Maryland this year. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is a great organization that brings together future students, current students, practitioners and other health care professionals. You can learn more about their mission here. Clarissa, one of my fellow ambassadors, is traveling to the conference and I’m sure she will have a lot of fun updates for everyone.

I’ll be sure to write about some fun activities throughout the month that focus on OT and its awesomeness.

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