Tips & Tricks for Undergraduates! >
July 29, 2016
While walking across campus last week, I ran into some of the new Bachelor’s to Master’s OT students who were attending their Freshman Orientation. It was so exciting to learn a bit about the newest members of the OT/Trojan family and SO crazy to think that I was in their shoes less than a year ago! This run-in also inspired my next blog post—some Tips & Tricks for those interested in undergraduate life here at USC!
Last Year’s Freshmen OT students
Although the majority of OT students at USC are applying to the Entry-Level Master’s Program, we also have the Bachelor’s to Master’s program in which students are immersed in the occupational therapy profession throughout their undergraduate experience. Because students start this program as freshmen, they are often overwhelmed with both excitement and uncertainty regarding the transition. A lot of the questions prospective undergraduate students ask me about this program are ones that I, myself remember laboring over as well. “What will my undergrad coursework be like as an OT major?” “What can I get involved in?” “How can I prepare?!”
In the hopes of easing some of these concerns, I have compiled a list of of advice I learned over my freshman year at USC—as well as an inside look into undergrad student life!
TIP #1 Get Involved!
The Involvement Fair and Service Opportunity Fair are two great ways to learn about different organizations on campus. These events provide great insight into the mission of each group and ensure that you see all of the (many) clubs and various groups that USC has to offer. I found that these fairs allowed for me to find organizations I was truly passionate about—and may have otherwise of missed out on!
The opportunities available to you vary from service organizations, to on-campus jobs, to sororities/fraternities, to religious and cultural organizations… and on and on—USC has it all! Check out http://campusactivities.usc.edu to see some of the available opportunities on campus!
And one of the best organizations out there (in my slightly biased opinion)...the Pre-OT club!
TIP #2 Take care of yourself!
Try not to spread yourself too thin!! USC does offer a plethora of ways to get involved, but don’t feel pressured to join every group on campus! The first few weeks on campus can be a little overwhelming—I would recommend taking your time to find organizations you are truly passionate about and really devoting your time to those groups! Make sure to sleep, eat nourishing food, and take time to relax!
Which brings me to my next tip…
TIP #3 Hand Sanitizer!
It is so easy to get sick while living and working around so many new people. Try and avoid germs by keeping your hands clean… and, again, try to SLEEP enough!
Tip #4 Get to know your professors!
This especially applies to OT professors and faculty members! We are fortunate to have nearly 100 OT faculty members, each one of them with a rich knowledge about the field and a passion for helping you be the best OT you can be! Office hours are a great way to meet with professors one-on-one and ask specific questions. Try and take advantage of these opportunities, I promise your professors won’t bite 😊
TIP #5 Don’t Stress—Everything will work out!
Now I will admit that I am someone who often stresses out over the smallest of things… however, I wish I could go back and tell myself to not be so worried about everything! Whether you worry your favorite classes will fill up, that your roommate won’t shower daily, or even that you might sleep through your first class—I urge you not to panic! If there is one thing I can say, it is that everything will work out! Besides… as OT students, we are great are coming up with creative solutions to any problem we encounter, right?! 😉
Tip #6 HAVE FUN!
At USC, the students value hard work and devotion to academic success, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to unwind and have fun! From football games, to the beach, to quirky cafes, to scenic hikes—there is always something to do in LA!
And here is a sneak peek into living on campus and a typical freshman schedule!
An example of an on-campus dorm room
My Schedule during the Fall of Freshman Year: You can see it is pretty balanced between OT courses and GE courses!
Undergraduate life at USC is jam-packed with excitement and endless opportunity…and it is such an amazing time to develop a passion for OT! Hopefully this post helps to paint a better picture of life as a USC OT undergraduate. Have a great weekend, everyone!!
My Favorite Summer Occupation! >
July 15, 2016
One of my all-time favorite occupations is working with kids. This week, I was fortunate enough to help out at a summer day-camp program. I have been involved with this program for 8 years now, and I have got to say it is one of the highlights of my summer. This year has been exciting and different, also, in that I have been able to apply material from the Lifespan Development and Psychology courses I took last semester. Both of these courses (which we take in the Bachelor’s to Master’s program) address fundamental aspects of the development of children, and have been so applicable in daily life this week.
One of my favorite parts about studying to become an OT is how the coursework can be applied to individuals I meet each day, across the lifespan. Even simple activities like working for a summer day-camp are able to reinforce and practically display the material I have learned as an OT major thus far.
I was especially excited this year to be working with a group of crazy, cautious, and adorable TWO-year-olds!! These little ones take a lot of energy and patience, but my heart just melts to see them grinning from ear to ear as we do various crafts, games, lessons and songs.
Not to mention, craft time this week looked a lot like the classrooms here that are currently set up for Creativity, Craft and Activity Analysis—a course the Entry Level Master’s students are currently taking! 😊
Another aspect of OT I have needed to use this week is creativity. Just as an OT takes each patient’s needs into consideration to establish a meaningful treatment plan, I have had to alter my approach when working one-on-one with each child. The toddlers in my group vary in their ability to verbally communicate, follow directions, complete activities… or even sit still for over 30 seconds. With this in mind, creativity has improved my ability to communicate with each child and ensured that our group has a productive and fun week!
Nothing I would rather do this week than hang out with these cute kids! Two-year-olds can be tiring, but SO much fun at the same time! If you have some free time and love kids as much as I do, I highly recommend volunteering at a day-camp or summer program!
Summer is in Full Swing! >
June 17, 2016
Today, the sun is shining and the hallways are buzzing with new OT students!
This past Monday was orientation for all of the new Entry-Level Master’s Students, and I could not be more excited for them to be here! It has been such a pleasure getting to meet some of these students and to learn a bit about how they found their way to USC’s OT program. Each student has such an interesting (and often vastly different) history that has led them to this point, and I think it is so fun to hear how their undergraduate major/ volunteer experience/ personal encounters with OTs have changed their lives and brought them here!
Sadly the only picture that I have from orientation, but so fun to be in an auditorium full of such amazing students and faculty!
It has also been so amazing to meet prospective students at our summer Info Sessions. These prospective OT students always impress me with their knowledge and passion for the profession—and some have luckily discovered their love for OT at quite a young age! I would have to say one of my favorite parts about being an ambassador is talking with prospective high school students. They often have the most interesting stories about how they found OT and have developed such an early passion for the profession. Plus, it is always fun to go on and on about how much I love the Bachelor to Master’s Program! 😊
Happy Friday, Everyone! Try and stay cool this weekend. And to all the new students…Welcome to the Trojan Family!! We are so excited for you to start this journey.
My Road to OT >
May 19, 2016
For my first blog post, I am going to share a little about how I discovered occupational therapy! Now, I would be lying if I said that I had always known that this was my dream career. In fact, I spent most of my life dreaming of becoming an elementary school teacher. This dream may have been slightly influenced by the fact that my Mom and Grandma were both elementary school teachers—but, regardless, I was confident that I would follow in their footsteps. With a love for working with children and a desire to make an impact, I figured this was the most practical career for me to pursue. However, when I began volunteering as a preschool teacher, I could not help but feel as if something was missing. I loved being surrounded by children, watching the wonder in their eyes with each new discovery—but I felt restricted by the four walls of the classroom. I found myself frustrated by the generic approach I had to take to effectively teach all children, and desired a more individualized approach. What I truly loved about teaching were the one-on-one moments with students, the times when I could truly understand and engage with each student. However, because I started volunteering at this preschool at quite a young age, my dreams about the future seemed rather premature. I decided to put all this career planning on the back-burner until something truly caught my attention.
Almost as soon as I made this decision, I stumbled upon occupational therapy. The word “stumbled” could not be more accurate—I found OT through an experience I never saw coming. In the spring of 2009, I was admitted to the hospital following lapses in memory and irregular changes in behavior. Following two grand mal seizures, I was admitted to the hospital where I was diagnosed and treated for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. While receiving chemotherapy transfusions and attending various rehabilitative sessions, I was exposed to a large variety of healthcare professionals. However, the endless support and reassurance I received from my occupational therapist has impacted me to this day. At a time where I felt so scared and helpless, she was able to bring peace. I remember feeling so triumphant when I was able to tie my own shoes or sign my name on a piece of paper. This occupational therapist was a source of light to my family in a time of such hardship. Once recovering and being discharged from the hospital, I could not stop thinking about how much this occupational therapist impacted me. I did know, however, that I wanted to be like her. I wanted to give back to others, to offer the same hope that I received all those years ago.
To be honest, I did not ever expect to find my future career this way. However, I am so thankful to have found such a fulfilling profession. I am equally as thankful to have had the opportunity to be a patient, and to have experienced firsthand how much impact an occupational therapist can have in someone’s life.
With each day I learn more about occupational therapy, I become more in love with the profession. Rather than feeling generic or formulaic, occupational therapy breeds creativity and innovative thinking. This profession is able to combine my fascination with the complexity of the human body with my utmost desire to give back to those in need, and I could not be more thrilled to be on the path toward becoming an OT!