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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


Looking Back: 2nd Year → Graduation! ⟩
May 14, 2010, by Mari

2nd Year of OT school!

There is so much that I could talk about within the last few weeks, let alone, my whole second year! I can’t believe that’s it’s already time to graduate! Have you ever felt that you had so many things to do and just not enough time to do it all?! I imagine many people can relate. That’s how I felt for the last month of this past semester. Not only was I trying to keep up with my weekly school work, I was preparing to take our comprehensive exam at the end of the year and thinking about my summer fieldwork, which I will be going to Hawaii (my home) for. Just a few weeks ago, I was wondering how I would ever get it all done, and now, I will be graduating! The comp exam, which covers all our second year material and is required to pass in order to graduate, is finally done — what a relief! Although I was really nervous for it, as I am with any exam, I felt assured that I had learned all the material once before, so I should do well. To find out that I passed was the last thing before graduation! Tomorrow, we will be graduating as the USC OT Class of 2010!! We’re making history! Next for me is my last level II fieldwork, which will be on the outpatient service at a hospital in Hawaii where I’m from. I’m so excited to be moving home! It’s really weird because I’ve been in California for a while, but I think I’m about ready to move on to this next chapter in my life! Looking back on my second year, there are so many things that happened, it’s hard to capture it all in one blog. I will post a few pictures of some of my favorite memories!

In November, last fall, I had the opportunity to attend the AOTA Student Conclave, which was held in Baltimore. I travelled with Grace, a fellow OT student and along with going to to conference, visited friends, toured D.C., and lobbied on Capital Hill Day at Senator Boxer’s office (see picture below). It was a lot of fun and a good break before the semester finished. I enjoyed spending time with my classmates outside of class and getting connected with the OT community. It was a great experience and I highly recommend it if you get the opportunity to go to something like that!

Another fun break toward the end of the fall semester was going to my very first and only USC football game! It was so much fun to hang out with friends and have the “real” USC experience! I was able to go to the USC v. UCLA game, and we won!! It was a great end to the semester, even though the football team didn’t do as great as they usually have done in the past! I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go to another USC football game, although USC does play UH (University of Hawaii) at Hawaii in their season opener next season! So, we’ll see!

Throughout the whole second year, as you probably already know, I was a student ambassador for our department, along with Sarah, Michelle, Myka, and Gus. It was truly a great experience for me to work close with our recruitment office. We were all able to do grad fairs, information sessions, recruitment for our Occupational Science minor classes, tabling events at the main USC campus, and many more fun events to promote OT! Having the opportunity to do this has made me even more passionate about my profession! It gets me so excited to talk to others about what OTs do because of the great services that OTs can offer almost everyone! Besides work, it was a great time to get to know the other ambassadors and we have really become a lot closer through our experiences together!

And finally, OT banquet! What a beautiful way to end the semester, year, and OT program — yummy food, great people, fun music and dancing!! Although not everyone in our class could attend, it was a fun night to get together and just relax after our comp exam! We only talked about the exam a little, but we were able to fully enjoy the night anyway, despite not knowing if we had passed yet!

Thank you for reading our blogs! I know the ambassadors next year will do an amazing job to continue what we have been doing! I hope you’ve enjoyed it! =)


April is OT Month! =) ⟩
April 10, 2010, by Mari

Community What are OS/OT?

Happy OT Month Student Ambassador Photo Shoot!

Yes, as Myka said, April is OT Month! Happy OT Month! The other day, all of us ambassadors decided to do a photo shoot to show off our awesome OT buttons! Here are some pictures!

Gus & Myka!

Gus & Myka!

Me & Sarah!

Me & Sarah!

Myka & Michelle!

Myka & Michelle!

And, all of us together! Yay for the Class of 2010 Student Ambassadors!

And, all of us together! Yay for the Class of 2010 Student Ambassadors!

OTs encourage people to “live life to its fullest” by helping them to maximize their participation in their occupations, or meaningful activities!


Looking Back — 1st Year ⟩
April 7, 2010, by Mari

Classes Fieldwork International School/Life Balance What are OS/OT?

Fall ’08 – Spring ’09

The transition from summer to fall semester was nice because we had a little more free time since we weren’t in class as often. The classes that we took were in Pediatrics, Physical Disabilities, Psychosocial Dysfunction, OT Skills, Gerontology, and Occupational Science. We also had labs for “Phys Dis” and Skills, and our Level I fieldwork (FW) during the fall and spring semesters. So, although we were spending less time in class, we were still quite busy. I chose not to work during my first year, which gave me more time to hang out with friends, help coach a club soccer team, and of course, study. 😉

Priscilla’s Surprise

Early on in the fall semester, we celebrated Priscilla getting married and threw her a surprise bridal shower! We try to find as many excuses as we can to hang out and have fun outside of school! I think she was definitely surprised!

And here’s the whole group!

Casa Colina

Our first Level I FW was in the fall — I spent a full week at Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation in Pomona, CA, in the inpatient rehab unit. There are different departments at Casa — inpatient rehab, pediatrics, and transitional living. In the inpatient rehab department, the therapists were split into different teams, who generally treated a certain type of patient diagnosis. For example, there were teams for such diagnoses like spinal cord injury and brain injury/stroke, my team being the latter. My Clinical Instructor (CI) was Lisa and she was very knowledgeable and friendly! It was great to be able to work with her and see what it was like to be an OT in that setting. Casa had been pretty recently remodeled, so the facility was very impressive!

Here is a picture of the “Stroke” team on Halloween! It was a great way to end my fun week visiting Casa!


My second Level I FW was in the spring — me, along with 32 other USC OT students, and 6 CIs spent two full weeks in Ghana! We worked with children with disabilities at the Mephibosheth Training Center (MTC), which is a boarding school for the children. This ministry was started by a Ghanaian pastor and his wife, who is a PT from the US. When we were there, there were 20 children, ages ~5-21 years old. In Ghana, they didn’t really know exactly how old the children were, and it made it tough to tell because many of them looked much younger than they really were. In Ghana, much, if not all of their livelihood is from physical labor or skills that a person has, therefore, people who have disabilities are looked down upon and seen as useless and hopeless. It is very sad, but infanticide is quite common if a child is born atypically, despite it being against the law. So, this is why MTC is such a wonderful place!

The children are taken in and they live at the boarding school for three months at a time. They will go home or to the orphanage they came from for one whole month, every three months. This is to encourage the children’s parents and the orphanage staff to be involved with their children’s health and well-being. At MTC, the children live amongst each other in a dormitory and they attend school and church together. Most of the children have chores and they are able to take care of themselves for the most part. It was so great to see how they truly act as one big family! What we were there for, was to help the children to increase their ability to do their everyday occupations. Two or three USC students were assigned one or two children. We assessed and observed them while they were in school, eating, and doing chores and self-care, in order to pinpoint what was going on with them and what they needed the most help with. We then developed a treatment plan, which we implemented during the week. And we created home and classroom programs (that were mostly pictures), which we taught to the children’s parents/orphanage staff and their teachers.

Going to Ghana was one of my most favorite experiences since I’ve been in OT school! Everything about it was amazing — the OT aspect: I learned so much in the short time that we were there and it really challenged my clinical reasoning skills and ability to think out of the box; the Christian aspect: being in a Christian environment was powerful as I saw some of my non-Christian USC friends being touched by the love that the Ghanaian children and people have for Jesus; the Ghanaian aspect: I absolutely loved Ghanaian culture — people were so laid back and friendly, it reminded me of home in Hawaii! We have so many stories and great memories from the trip, but here are a few pictures.

Meet Amanquah (~13 years old) — isn’t he so cute!? Sarah (another student ambassador) and I were partners on this trip and we had the opportunity to work with Aman! He didn’t have a specific diagnosis, but he had CP-like symptoms and malnutrition. He was very weak — he had to use a wheelchair to get around and would scamper on the ground on his elbows, hands, and knees to get around. He had a difficult time holding his head up, which inhibited him from efficiently participating in many of his occupations — eating, self-care, and doing schoolwork. He also didn’t speak much, but we could tell he was very bright!

Barb was Sarah and my CI — it was her first time to Ghana as well. She was great! She brought a lot of good ideas and insight into our treatment and care for Aman!

Here is Sarah and Aman taking a break between one of the exercises that we were doing to increase the strength of Aman’s neck extensors (to lift his head up).

And here’s Aman and me doing one of his other favorite occupations — drawing and writing!

24th Birthday

Also, during the spring, my birthday, which happens to be Earth Day, came around, and of course, some of my friends and I used it as a reason to get together after class!

OT Banquet/Prom

And another great way to end the year — OT Banquet/Prom! A fun night of dressing up, good food, dancing, and great company!

So that was a glance back at my first year. It definitely flew by quickly! To sum up the school portion of it — FW, labs, group projects, practicums, and site visits!


Looking Back — Summer 2008 ⟩
March 7, 2010, by Mari

School/Life Balance

When it all began . . .

As we’re nearing the end of our OT school journey, I can’t believe we’ll be graduating so soon — I have mixed feelings of excitement to be done, sadness to leave the comfort of student life, and anxiety about where I’ll end up in the future. I can just remember when I was in the process of applying to OT school and deciding where to go, when I had my weekly email and phone conversations with Sarah Kelly to ask her my list of questions and help with the decision process! It’s definitely true that time sure flies by when you’re having fun! Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the amazing times I’ve had at USC in the past couple years. So, for my next few blogs, I thought I would take you back through my experience as an OT student at USC!

First, we start with the summer of 2008 when we were immersed in what it really meant to be a full-time student! We didn’t know if we were going to make it out of the summer still being able to think and function during our fall semester classes, but of course, it was completely fine!

As we were lined up to go into the auditorium, I’m sure everyone remembers the first people they befriended! For me, it was Wendy and Miriam!

Here’s Wendy and I pretending to be happy right before our Kinesiology final. 😉

Although it was a lot of studying, we definitely found time to have fun too! We love celebrating birthdays!

Here’s Tina blowing out her candles at the Wine & Dine event hosted by the OT House.

And this is a group picture from Miriam’s birthday — we went to a modern-day play of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and ate at the Tofu House in Korea Town!

We also had fun in Dr. Fazio’s Skills class, which worked out to be the perfect stress reliever from Kinesiology and Neuroscience!

Here’s an angel pot holder that I made from ceramic tiles and grout — probably one of my favorite pieces!

And who knew Neuroscience could be fun too (sorry, Myka — she’s another Student Ambassador who was a Neuroscience major)?! At the end of the summer, I brought in a cake that was in the shape of spinal bone, marking a few of the tracts that ran through it. A little nerdy, I know, but I always think there’s some way to incorporate food into your projects — it just makes it more fun for everyone!

And that’s about it for the first summer. It was definitely a busy summer, but filled with fun as a great start to OT school! =)


A Wonderful Day of FUN! ⟩
February 16, 2010, by Mari

Community Getting Involved What are OS/OT?

PTE’s 3rd Annual Occupational Extravaganza!

Last weekend, USC’s Pi Theta Epsilon (National OT Honor Society), aka. PTE, put on our big event of the year — The 3rd Annual Occupational Extravaganza! This is an event that has been hosted every year by the current 2nd year Master’s students in PTE. It was held at USC’s Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign, a beautiful Victorian-style house, just up the street from USC’s University Park Campus. It was a special day to show off our wonderful profession through yummy food, crafts, research projects, speakers, and panelists from Good Samaritan Hospital in LA. As a part of the PTE board, it took a lot of planning and organizing, but the event turned out great, and despite the expected rain, there was a pretty big turn out! Those who attended the event were USC OT 1st/2nd/OTD students, USC OT alumni, CSU Dominguez Hills OT students, USC OT faculty/staff, OTs from our students’ fieldwork sites, staff from Good Sam Hospital, students admitted into our OT program, and children from ENGAGE. ENGAGE is a volunteer community organization to help children in the area participate in meaningful occupations, and it is run by the residents of the OT House. So, it was definitely a huge OT event and a great way to kick off OT month in April! Our PTE members were able to put together a wonderful day of fun! Here are some pictures!

We made Valentine’s Day trinket boxes using tiles and grout.

Here’s Dr. Florence Clark, the head of our OT department, as well as the President-elect of AOTA (American OT Association), sharing some of her wisdom with us as we make beautiful origami cranes.

And we also made stress balls using balloons and flour.

Here’s a small view of the research that was displayed. Research projects were done by current USC faculty (Well Elderly Study, PUPS), OTD students, and current Master’s students.

We also had three wonderful speakers, each owning their own private practice (Susan Harris, Tammy Richardson, and Erna Blanche), and below, is our interdisciplinary panel from Good Sam, consisting of an OT, OT student from CSU Dominguez Hills, a rehab director, a nurse, two PTs, and a SLP. Using a case study of an actual patient they all had treated, they discussed the treatment plan and role of interdisciplinary care with this patient.

Here’s a picture of me with Dr. Jeanne Jackson (a faculty advisor of PTE) and Phoebe (co-president of PTE).

Overall, it was a very enjoyable and successful day! =)

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