What Student Organization Should I Join?
August 4, 2020
As the summer semester is coming to an end and the fall semester is quickly approaching, many students become aware of the various opportunities they have to get involved. Emails start to trickle in informing them of volunteer opportunities, student organizations, student council, student worker positions, and much more. Looking back on my first year, I recall this being one of the most overwhelming times for me because I didn’t know which organization would be the best fit for me. For that reason, I have gone ahead and reached out to individuals in our program who are involved in each organization. I asked them why they chose to be a part of this organization and what they have gained from or learned about by being a member. Hopefully, this helps you decide what you want to be a part of!
I do want to echo Calvin, Lamoni, and Marilyn’s blog posts by reminding you all that it is ok to say no and that it is important to maintain a proper work-life balance. You do not have to be a part of multiple or any organizations for that matter! I urge you to invest time in things that matter to you. For the first three semesters of graduate school, I only committed my time to schoolwork and my job as a gym receptionist. It wasn’t until the Student Ambassador position presented itself at the end of my Spring semester that I found myself getting more involved in the Chan community outside of class. Whether your meaningful occupations fall within or outside our program, find one or two activities or organizations that you are passionate about. Try your best not to overcommit yourself and do not feel like you have to rush into a decision. If you are unsure about an opportunity I can promise you that a new one will be just around the corner! With that being said . . . here are students’ insight on their student organizations.
- OTs for OuTreach: “I chose to get involved with OTs for OuTreach because I wanted to be able to connect with other people in the program that aligned with my queer identity and be able to talk about our shared experiences throughout the program together. I was really searching for a sense of community and also a way I could get involved with the LGBTQ+ community in Los Angeles through community services/volunteer opportunities. I have always been involved in some way with queer organizations in high school and in undergrad so having a queer org in graduate school was essential for me to find community at the start of a new chapter in my life.” — Gabe Cravens; President of OTs for OuTreach
- Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD): “My COTAD team knows about the importance of representation. Many people do not apply to programs like ours because they don’t see anyone like them. And a lot of people don’t know about occupational therapy because it’s mainly a white, female, heterosexual, middle-class profession. So, establishing a COTAD chapter at USC felt really important (I think every OT program should have a chapter). Along with those points, the OS seminar has really emphasized cultural values and how that shapes people’s occupations. COTAD can bring more insight into those views by advocating for diversity. Taking on the role of chapter president made me nervous because of the time commitment but so many people have reached out saying that they want to get more involved, they’ve pitched in ideas on what our chapter should do, helped plan events. It truly ends up being a team effort. Because of that, Its a lot less overwhelming than I thought it would be. And we’ve only been established for a few months. We’re coming off the ground (which is the hardest part) so I can’t wait until the future when everything is rolling.” — Lamoni Lucas; COTAD Chair
- USC Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC): “Being a part of OTSC has taught me how important it is to listen to the student body’s values and what they truly want from a governing student council, being the social media chair has taught me how important connection is, especially during this global pandemic in which we are all undergoing remote learning and our connections are no longer in person. We have been able to create a strong virtual bond regardless of external factors we have no control over, and that is why I decided to join OTSC, to connect and create the best graduate experience possible for all students!” — Samantha Coelho; OTSC Social Media Representative
- Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE): “I was interested in PTE because it was different from other organizations. PTE has a major focus on scholarship and research opportunities. As a research assistant, I have learned more about all of the cool things OS and OT research labs are working on, so I wanted to get involved in an organization that focused on conversations surrounding these topics. As a PTE member, I can utilize the division’s expansive resources to learn from a variety of Chan faulty and staff. Although we aren’t following the regular events we usually put on due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are taking more time to implement interdisciplinary programming with students in other health disciplines. We have developed an OT and PT forum to talk about case studies and build treatment plans together, and we are also adapting events to work with other PTE chapters. This organization takes its own spin on promoting scholarship and fostering opportunities to work in transdisciplinary teams.” — Renee Reinberg; Co-President of PTE
- USC Student-Run Clinic (SRC): “Before coming into OT school, I worked in an interdisciplinary clinic for children who’ve experienced trauma. I shadowed an OT and observed how she worked alongside a team of health professionals to tackle very complex situations. When I came into USC, I was very excited to be a part of the SRC, where different disciplines could also come together to work on healthcare cases for vulnerable populations. Being in SRC challenged my assumptions of other health professions and brought me more understanding of the unique role that each healthcare member contributes to the team. This experience also helped me feel more comfortable advocating for the importance of OT, both with clients and with other health professionals, as a means to serve complex populations more effectively as a team.” — Katherine Tao; JWCH Clinic Site Coordinator
- The Chan Community Commission (CCC): “Joining CCC was kind of serendipitous because my friend Sarah Morris and I wanted to create a peer mentorship program for incoming students during summer. We reached out to Dr. Rafeedie with the idea and were added to the taskforce that ended up evolving into the CCC! I have definitely enjoyed working together with such wonderful passionate people to make CCC a reality and share ideas and bring them to fruition.” — Kayla Jahari; Co-Leader of the Peer Mentorship Circles in CCC
- The Chan Community Commission (CCC) Continued:“For me, being a member of the Chan Community Commission (CCC) this summer has been a wellspring of hope and positive energy in the midst of the most tumultuous socio-political period of my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the CCC team to create opportunities for Chan students and faculty to build community and practice wellness together. I am looking forward to continuing to strengthen our OT community this fall as part of the OTSC Philanthropy Committee!”
— Adam Strizich; CCC Health & Wellness Sub-Committee Lead
**As Adam has mentioned the CCC will no longer continue under this title in the Fall, so please click here to learn more about the future of CCC and how they are uniting with OTSC and Global Initiatives.