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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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Leah Mary

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Leah Mary

SCHOLARSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS, SCHOLARSHIPS! >

by Leah Mary

Admissions Life Hacks School/Life Balance

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Congratulations! You made it into USC’s Occupational Therapy Program, you should feel incredibly proud of yourself. I have no doubt you will go on and do great things.

But…. how the heck are you going to pay for this program??? Being a topic program doesn’t come cheap. I wish I had a handbook to guide me when I was first navigating this program. I was often confused from the website and overloaded with information. Because of that, I missed important deadlines for big scholarships. So I find this topic extremely important and I want to make sure that this information is easily digestible and available to students.

I’m going to highlight a couple of websites, scholarships, and strategies.

1) Scholarships and Financial Aid USC and other Scholarships and
Awards

a. https://chan.usc.edu/education/financial-aid/other-scholarships
b. This link will take you to a comprehensive list of scholarships. It will tell you the amount the award is worth and the eligibility requirements. (I USED THIS SO MUCH).

2) OT External Scholarship Opportunities Columbia University
a. https://www.vagelos.columbia.edu/education/student-resources/ 
student-financial-aid-and-planning/important-resources/external-
scholarship-opportunities/ot-external-scholarship-opportunities

b. This is another website I used from Columbia University with another comprehensive list of scholarships.

3) Town and gown of USC Scholarship
a. $15,000 for the academic year for graduate students and PP-OTD students and it is renewable! Deadline for the application is December 1st.
b. https://townandgownofusc.org/students/scholarship-information/

4) Division Internal Residencies
a. If you decided to do the PP-OTD and an internal residency, those come with a scholarship of 2/3 tuition. The deadline for the internal residencies is the end of Oct 1st.

5) Merit-Based Scholarship
a. If you decide to do the PP-OTD but do an external residency, students admitted to the program will be automatically considered for Merit-based scholarships which cover around 1/3 tuition.

6) Residencies External to the Chan Division
a.If you are a licensed and registered therapist by the time of your residency, you can negotiate with the residency sites on paid positions. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions to your site because it is important that both your educational and financial needs are met.

My biggest advice is to apply to everything and ask questions. The famous Michael Scott once said “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky”. It’s a funny but very true quote. I know these scholarships take a long time to complete or asking for paid positions during your residency can be an awkward conversation, however if you don’t apply or ask, I can tell you 100% you won’t get them. So I urge you to take those shots.

Leah Mary

Thank You, Occupational Therapy >

by Leah Mary

Classes Fieldwork What are OS/OT?

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The first time I heard about occupational therapy was during my Freshman Year (2016) in my seminar class with Dr. Jesús Díaz. One of our classes was dedicated to introducing us to occupational therapy. At the time, I was volunteering in different research labs studying the brain and thought I wanted to get my PhD in Neuroscience. I didn’t want to pursue occupational therapy (I know, what was I thinking!?).

Fast forward to the end of my Sophomore Year, I was pretty unhappy. While I found the research fascinating, something was missing. Most of the time, I was behind the computer, not interacting with individuals (and I’m a huge extrovert). I felt utterly lost. This was around the same time my grandmother was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer that impacted her overall well-being, requiring multiple brain surgeries and significant therapies.

My grandmother had a PhD in education, was a biology teacher, and my best friend. I was devastated seeing such an incredible person go through something so terrible. But my grandmother was determined and motivated to stay strong and healthy as long as possible. That summer, she went to inpatient and outpatient therapy at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. This was the second introduction I had to OT, however, this time in its most authentic form. I witnessed how OT positivity impacted her life. The therapist used meaningful occupations to motivate and connect with my grandma (she loved OT the most). And because the therapy was embedded into her daily life, she could continue at home when discharged. OT changed her life.

Right then, I knew that pursuing a career in OT was my calling. I loved the therapist’s interactions with their clients, the creativity involved in incorporating meaningful occupations, and their impact on people’s lives.

Fast forward again to now. I just completed my last II fieldwork at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (on the same floor my grandmother was on) and graduated from the Entry Level Master Program. OT changed my life. It’s weird, but every time I engage in fieldwork or OT courses at school, I feel connected to her, so thank you OT.