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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


Lovely Day Spent on UPC ⟩
September 7, 2018, by Serena

Life Hacks Living in LA

USC has a few campuses. As an OT student I find myself at both the University Park Campus (UPC) and Health Science Campus (HSC).

University Park Campus, more commonly known as Main Campus, is most likely the campus you think of when you envision USC. It is where the undergraduate programs are located. Doheny Library, Tommy Trojan, and the main bookstore (which has 4 levels!!!) are all located on UPC.

HSC, Health Science Campus, is where most of the healthcare graduate programs are located, like the medical school, physical therapy department, and OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY department! It is also where Keck Medical Hospital and La County Hospital are located. As an OT student, you have all of your classes on HSC.

A few times a week, I take the free intershuttle tram or drive to study on UPC which takes about 20-30 minutes. I travel to UPC for MANY reasons but below I have listed three of my favorite places on UPC.

1. Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity (KCLC)
Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity (KCLC) is an academic support center for USC students. As graduate students, we can receive their services during walk in hours. KCLC holds individual academic guidance sessions, workshops, academic support groups, and quiet study spaces with yoga mats, ear plugs, and highlighters. They even have fidget toys that you can borrow when you are studying in the center! Academic coaches’ focus is on but is not limited to enhancing time management skills, goal-setting tips, and self care strategies to promote optimal academic success. Their website has many useful resources that you can access on their Tools and Resources page. The academic coaches are in the Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs, Marriage and Family Therapy, Education in Educational Counseling, and of course Occupational Therapy program. I will be completing my Level I Fieldwork at KCLC this semester so I am looking forward to blogging and sharing my experience as an OT student at the center.

2. The Writing Center
The Writing Center is another great resource for USC students wishing to enhance their writing abilities. Their lovely writing consultants help you understand and problem solve using strategies that will allow you to be more self-efficient writers in the future. The Writing Center offers services in the form of both individual consultations and small-group workshops. As an OT student, you may find The Writing Center to be helpful with your in class papers, projects, and scholarships. In addition, if becoming a writing consultant is of interest to you while you are in the OT program, you can even apply to work part-time at the center and help other students excel!

3. USC Village
The USC Village opened in 2017 as a huge relief to many students who were missing their everyday shops like Trader Joe’s and Target. At the Village you can shop, dine, and exercise. You can even get your nails, hair, and eyebrows done because we all know the importance of self-care! 😊 For me, the relaxing and peaceful environment is the most attractive aspect of the newly built complex. Sitting under the umbrella tables next to the beautiful water fountain is one of my favorite places to study on UPC. It is also a nice area to meet other students pursuing other professional degrees.

Here I have highlighted just a few of my favorite places on UPC. As an OT student at USC, the number of resources are endless, which is one of the many reasons why I decided to complete my Master’s in Occupational Therapy at this wonderful institution. What a beautiful experience it is to be a part of a community that is always providing the best support and resources to their students. The USC community is always developing new ways to enhance their students’ ability to learn! If you have any questions, like always, please feel free to reach out to me!

USC Village on University Park Campus (UPC)

USC Village on University Park Campus (UPC)


My Dream Career ⟩
August 27, 2018, by Serena

What are OS/OT?

How did I choose OT? Honestly, I am very fortunate that USC has one of the top ranked Occupational Therapy programs in the world because I actually selected USC first. I know it sounds backwards and different but it led me to the profession I always wanted to pursue, yet did not know existed.

Upon graduating from UCLA with my degree in Psychology, I had no idea what I wanted to do except for 3 things: 1) I wanted to go back to school (yea . . . I’m a nerd and actually love school); 2) I wanted to work with children; 3) I desired to attend USC for graduate school. The research based institution and strong sense of community at USC is what drew me to look into the programs they had to offer. I looked at the vast list and instantly paused and did a quick Google search when I saw Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. I became intrigued and wanted to learn more about the profession so I reached out to USC faculty members Dr. Shelby Surfas, Dr. Beth Pyatak, and Dr. Camille Dieterle, who kindly gave me their time to passionately inform me of the vast settings and populations OTs can serve. The profession further piqued my interest when I noticed the genuine love the professors had for their job and it would only make sense since occupational therapy is ranked #9 as the Best Health Care Job.

I began shadowing and volunteering in schools, private practices, and hospitals where I fell more and more in love with the care that the occupational therapists provided. Under the mentorship of Dr. Jazminne Orozco and Dr. Alex Nishi, I volunteered in the AltaMed general pediatrics clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with a comprehensive behavioral family-lifestyle intervention program, BodyWorks. This is where I found my love for the unique lifestyle intervention occupational therapists can practice. I observed how the intervention brought a unique lens to the healthcare system by helping families prevent and manage chronic diseases by focusing on their habits and daily routines. Empowering, aiding, and educating individuals to live a happier and healthier life by addressing the areas in their life that mattered most to them was what further drew me into OT and confirmed my commitment to the field.

I could go on and on about why I chose OT because I am absolutely in love with the profession. Since studying OT for the past year, my interest has expanded to treating the entire lifespan. With every class I attend, I seem to learn about a new area of practice that I could see myself going into. I truly feel like it is a dream come true to be able to pursue a profession that is dedicated to helping people do what they want, need, and love to do. It’s so rewarding to be able to place the client first and acknowledge their health with a holistic lens. If you have any comments, questions, or clarifications, please feel free to reach out or comment below!

After receiving my acceptance letter, I quickly drove down to the Health Science Campus to take a picture in front of my dream OT school, and a year later, it still feels like a dream!

After receiving my acceptance letter, I quickly drove down to the Health Science Campus to take a picture in front of my dream OT school . . . and a year later, it still feels like a dream!

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