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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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7 BEST Photos from my PP-MA Classmates >

by Marvyn

Diversity International Living in LA

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In light of the 7th day of Blog-mas, I decided to show off 7 of my wonderful classmates who make our class as unique as it could be. I am so honored to be part of their class, and I figured they needed to be highlighted as well. I asked them what their BEST photo is here in LA so far, and why they think they chose that photo. Check it out!

Cindy Teow: “I really enjoy nature, so hiking at Eaton Canyon with my classmates was the highlight of this season for me! They made hiking enjoyable though the hike was tougher than expected. The same could be said for this semester, their cheerful and helpful disposition made this semester manageable.”

Nandita Raman: “This picture was taken at a place I recently visited place called ‘The Last Bookstore’. It is truly a paradise for book lovers like me. The atmosphere is so warm and cozy, and it brings out the magic of books. This is one of the best places I have been to in LA!”

Tristenne Ocampo: “This photo captures what life has been as an international student in LA — so much life, art, and color! this applies to the food, places, and people I have encountered.”

Florence Yang: “Exploring nature, practicing yoga, and taking photos are all things that bring me joy and energy, and this photo encapsulated my most joyful moment. I took this photo while I was hiking through Switzer falls trail with my friends. I love how this trunk was lying beside the trail, which created the perfect spot for a split!”

Godfrey Lok: “This photo is my personal best in MA-1. It was taken when we had an Halloween celebration event. All of our class dressed up and we were having so much fun in the patio! Could you tell what characters are we mimicking?”

Vanessa Mesa: “This is my best photo because it reminds me of the good days that spontaneity can bring about. Saying yes to last minute events can sometimes turn out to be one of the bests I can look back to!”

Jean Chen: “My new life in LA has become brighter because of getting to know new friends at USC. We could freely share our ups and downs together. Here we are enjoying a meal at my house.”

I would like to thank my classmates for participating in my blog! Living in LA has been a blast for us, international students, and I believe there will be much more adventures to be found along our journey.


Things I Learned from Falling Down >

by Marvyn

Life Hacks

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Remember my very first blog post when I said my OT journey wasn’t cookie cutter? Click here if you haven’t read it yet. I had a lot of setbacks before I became an occupational therapist back in my home country, the Philippines. But as many people would say, nothing worth having comes easy. It is really those setbacks, that led me to be who I am today. Here are just a couple of things I learned from these setbacks.

#1, Everything happens for a reason.
Setbacks suck. You planned to achieve your goal and worked so hard, only to have it crash down and fail. So now, you feel disappointed in yourself for letting this happen. You feel like you failed a lot of people’s expectations. You then go down a slippery slope that sets you up on a dangerous snowball of hurt. I remember being in that snowball many times, and the crash landing hurt the most.

I think there is a sense of calm in understanding that some things, whether good or bad, MUST happen for your personal growth. I mean, who wants to watch a movie without conflict? I remember when I was struggling and eventually failed to meet my undergraduate professor’s expectations, I did nothing but blame myself for it. But later when I realized that this needed to happen, I understood that had there been no setback, there was no room for growth and improvement. Now that I know the feeling of disappointment, I did everything I could to not experience it again.

#2, It’s useless worrying about things you cannot control.
“Oh no, my plans failed! My life is over!” You start worrying about what comes next. You think relentlessly about the problems you will face. You start panicking because you have no backup plans and have no idea what to do. To some extent, you even start to contemplate giving up on your goal.

I am the type of person that plans out what I want to do in my life. But when life plans do not go the way as planned, I used to panic and worry about things that haven’t even happened yet. It’s like dodging a rock without anything being thrown at you. I just ended up being very tired. Instead, I found that learning the art of “letting go” lifts the weight off my chest. Now while I reflect on my mistakes, I learned that in failing to meet my undergraduate professor’s expectations, I am unable to influence what others will think of me. I am also unable to change what I did because what’s done is done! So instead of worrying about anything and everything, I started thinking about the small things I need to do to improve, like tweaking my schedule to fit the demands, calculating small steps to take to get back up.

#3, Revenge is so sweet.
And by revenge, I meant I developed a strong internal motivation to become stronger, more resilient. I always tell my friends that a small setback is only setting you up for a major comeback. When I found out my life didn’t go the way as planned, I took that as an opportunity to grow. Like in any movie, the protagonist fails and experiences hardships, but they always find ways to come back stronger. The internal flame that burned inside was my motivator to stand back up and to keep fighting for my goals. I took all the necessary steps to be better than I was, and I was determined to not repeat the same mistakes. I made sure I prioritized self-love and focused on strengthening my personal relationships as well.

Overcoming these setbacks is the best type of revenge you can make. The feeling of “Nothing is going to stop me now!” is exhilarating, most especially if you start succeeding in achieving your goals! It’s like winning an arcade boss fight after losing over and over again. After your self-reflection, growth, and improvements, you can see yourself fighting back much stronger than you had before.

Every superhero has an origin story. And it seems like failure must be a major prerequisite to become one. After countless setbacks and continuous life tweaks, you would think I would gain a sense of tolerance, but quite frankly life doesn’t work that way. I’m not here to say, “There there. It’s okay.” Instead, I’m here to remind you that although things could and will get rough, never lose sight of your goals in life. Had I not experienced what I have had in my past, I wouldn’t have been able to be where I am today: achieving my dreams here at USC. My OT journey is definitely not a linear path, but I learned to be grateful for every experience I am getting, all the good and bad. After some time when you look back at where you have been and gone through, you’d be proud of how far you’ve gone and what you have accomplished. Keep at it, you superhero, and always Fight On!


From Manila to Los Angeles and Beyond! >

by Marvyn

International Living in LA

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When I was younger, I always dreamt of experiencing life beyond the borders of my country, the Philippines. This isn’t because I hate my country, but it is because I always felt like I knew there was more I have yet to explore and learn from around the world. And frankly, when I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy, I didn’t think I could.

So, before I became a student at USC Chan, I have been already a pediatric occupational therapist for almost 2 years. But because of the lockdown situation from COVID-19 in Manila, I was forced to be in my own thoughts: to reflect and contemplate about my life beyond the four walls of my bedroom. After some time, and most importantly with the help and support of my family and friends, I realized that USC Chan was my next big step. And the rest was history!

I have always had experience traveling with either my friends or family, but this was my first time traveling to a very long distance all by myself. After a couple of months of preparation and goodbyes, I boarded the plane from Manila and moved to Los Angeles. It is from that moment I knew that my life will be much different from what it was.

Student sitting on airplane

On my first ever long haul flight all by myself!

If there’s anything anyone needs to know when they arrive in a new, foreign environment, it is to find people you can connect with. I took every opportunity I can get to meet new people and to dig my feet deep in Los Angeles. I was able to meet a couple of familiar faces from the Philippines, which is amazing, and I was fortunate to be in such a diverse class at PP-MA (I made a blog about them last time here).

Friends sitting outdoors for ramen

Filipino PP-MA students represent! Had great ramen at Koreatown with great company.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be in USC because I get to do what I have always been looking for. It is crazy to think that a couple of months back I was stuck in my bedroom back in Manila, and now I am (safely, of course) exploring life in LA and taking that chance to experience life that is beyond the boundaries of the Philippines. And while I’m still in the thick of it all, I am most certainly relishing every single moment I can get.

Friends hanging out on beach

PP-MA hangout in Santa Monica beach!


My Class is a Nexus Point >

by Marvyn

Diversity International Living in LA

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A nexus is a connection of multiple links into a common point or place. In the Post-Professional Master’s program, it’s just that.

If you read about my previous blog post (OT was not my first choice . . . but I have no regrets), I mentioned that time and destiny have their unique way of bringing people together. The program I’m in is no exception to this. For the most part, it’s almost serendipitous. Can you imagine that more than 30 unique individuals, having each their own personal experiences and life stories across the globe, flew into Los Angeles to study OT? On top of that, we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic!! It sounds so crazy and thrilling to me that I have classmates from India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Colombia, the Middle East, and of course my home country the Philippines. Being at class in person, it’s essentially a melting pot of unique stories and personalities: flavors from all around the world! It still baffles me that despite all the circumstances we were all dealing with individually, life just situates us to be together in a class to learn and grow from each other.

You see, experiencing LA is one amazing thing. But can you imagine exploring it with a class that’s as diverse as this? Check out this hike we did at the Eaton Canyon we did on our second week of class! Some say the trail is pretty basic, but it’s much less about the hike but more about the company you’re with. And if you’re hiking with this bunch, you will always run out of breath from having endless, great conversations (oh, and from hiking too of course).

Classmates on a hike

The PP-MA class on our first hiking trip in Eaton Canyon! Photo credits to Yu-Hsuan (Florence) Yang.

On top of that, Dr. Danny Park along with the Global Initiatives team has been very hands-on in support of International Students at Chan, like us in our class. We had events like social mixers and support groups to emphasize togetherness in a culturally diverse environment. A chance to meet and learn from somebody else’s stories and experiences are really irreplaceable, and they are doing an amazing job at that. Fun fact: Did you know that Mooncakes symbolize togetherness and prosperity? Look at some of my classmates celebrating the Mid-Autumn (Mooncake) Festival at the CHP Patio!

Classmates in patio celebrating Mooncake festival

One of the many events hosted by Global Initiatives: Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival! Photo credits to Joshua Digao.

In my classes so far, I have learned the importance of togetherness and community as a crucial part of a person’s optimal occupational performance. My class is the epitome of that. I thought that coming into a class full of foreign students would isolate me, but I was wrong. It is in our different backgrounds and experience that actually makes us even more together! I found an even bigger, cohesive community that is PP-MA. A home outside of home, as you may say.

So to my classmates at PP-MA, you’re all awesome. I am so honored and thrilled to be part of this class as if I haven’t made that clear in this blog post. We all come from different parts of the world, but USC Chan was the nexus point that linked us all together. How cool is that?? I am looking forward to learning more from each of you and to taking even more unforgettable adventures and experiences together this school year. Fight On!

Class on white coat ceremony in front of the CHP building

Our White Coat ceremony! Photo credits to Godfrey Lok.


OT was not my first choice … but I have no regrets >

by Marvyn

Admissions International What are OS/OT?

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Occupational therapy wasn’t my first choice. There. I said it. But hear me out:

Medicine was the only field of choice if you want to help people. At least, that’s what I was told growing up in the Philippines. I have plenty of family members who are successful physicians and well-known professionals in the field of health sciences, but occupational therapy was never part of that extensive list. I always knew that helping people was the impact I wanted to make in this world, and the only option at the time was to pursue medicine. But time and destiny have other plans.

It wasn’t until I was applying for university where I first heard about occupational therapy. It was a week before the deadline for applications, and I still haven’t decided on a program to apply to. I was rapidly going back and forth on the list of programs and stumbled on “BS in Occupational Therapy”. I can’t believe I overlooked this! Quickly, I did a Google search on the program and rapidly grew interested in OT. And the rest was history! I sent my application and went on to my journey to become an OT.

My journey to becoming an OT was not cookie-cutter. Saying it was challenging was an understatement. There were many set goals and aspirations that ended up being broken. Schedules and timelines were being shaken and delayed. The motivation was at an all-time low. But despite all that, time and destiny have their way of steering you in the right direction. I eventually became an OT Intern (fieldwork). I started to work with individuals and their families of all ages — pediatrics and development, adult physical rehabilitation and geriatrics, mental health, and community-based rehabilitation. I learned that this was my life’s purpose after all: to help people and make an impact in their lives as an occupational therapist. My initial notions of becoming a doctor have faded, and I knew that I have a greater purpose in the field of occupational therapy. From there, I steered full gear to become a licensed occupational therapist in the Philippines.

After working as a licensed OT for almost two years, I realized that there was more to the world of OT that I still don’t know. I joined an information session of the Post-Professional Master’s program at USC and understood that this was my next big step. Fast forward a couple of months and here I am writing this blog post for you to read. It was a scary, giant leap forward, considering that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. I truly appreciate the great help of Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh and Dr. Danny Park with the Global Initiatives team in making this process the smoothest it can be despite the circumstances. I just started my journey here at USC, and I already have tons of stories to share. But I won’t make this blog post any longer, so keep a lookout for my next blog entries to tell you more about it.

If you have ever watched Marvel Studios’ Loki, the TV series, you can consider me as a “variant” of myself in the universe’s Sacred Timeline. There is a Marvyn in another universe who is a medical doctor, there’s another Marvyn who ended up being a pilot, and then there’s me: Marvyn the occupational therapist and a proud master’s student of the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Things might not have turned out the way it was initially planned, and that’s the beauty of this whole thing! I am so glad to be where I am today, most especially in USC, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

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