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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


Pedagogy and Passion ⟩
February 27, 2024, by Sheryl


I remember my nerves as I stood in front of a class full of eager and unfamiliar faces for the first time as a pedagogy resident to present a portion of the class that I had enthusiastically signed up for. The topic, ironically, was explaining the Zones of Regulation which is a social-emotional learning curriculum using coloured zones to represent feelings or emotions like blue for feelings of sadness or boredom, green for happiness, calm and pride and red for terrified, panic or elation etc. Oh boy was I feeling RED!

As I began explaining the topic, adding my stories and experiences from working as an OT back in India and solving the case study with the class, I felt comfortable and at ease. I felt myself moving to another coloured zone. After my bit, I remember my preceptor gleamingly saying ‘You look as though you belong there, the students love you and find you very relatable’. Looking back now, I think that I was in the green zone. As I delve into my experiences, reflections, and the invaluable lessons I’ve learned along the way as a pedagogy resident here at Chan, my inner child is ecstatic and so grateful.

My mum, who has been a teacher for her whole life, often says that teaching is in my blood and takes full credit for this. There’s a profound truth to what she says because growing up in an environment where education was not just a profession but a way of life, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to nurturing young minds. While she may take full credit for this, her influence on me transcends mere conscious awareness — it’s a deeply ingrained part of who I am and how I perceive the world.

From the earliest days of my childhood, I was surrounded by the echoes of her and her teacher friends’ classroom tales. Through her actions, she taught me the value of patience, empathy, and resilience — qualities that are indispensable for anyone aspiring to become an educator. Yet, it wasn’t just her overt acts of teaching or the very strong influences of my own teachers that left an impression on me; it was the subtle nuances, the everyday interactions, and the unspoken lessons that shaped my understanding of what it means to inspire and empower others.

My mom and I in our elements, photographed 10 years apart

Pictured here: My mom and I in our elements, photographed 10 years apart.

From the outset, my residency at USC Chan was driven by this deep-seated passion for education and academia. I firmly believe that teaching is not merely a profession but a calling — a conduit through which we empower others to realize their full potential. At USC Chan, this ethos is palpable, permeating every aspect of the division’s pedagogical approach. One of the most striking aspects of my residency was the emphasis on collaborative learning where educators, students, and practitioners converge to exchange ideas, challenge assumptions, and co-create innovative teaching methodologies. Whether through faculty meetings, seminars, my faculty mentors, or small group discussions, I found myself constantly enriched by the collective wisdom of my peers.

Throughout my residency, I was challenged to reflect on my teaching methodologies, solicit feedback from students and teaching teams, and iterate upon my approaches in pursuit of continuous improvement. In doing so, I not only refined my pedagogical techniques but also deepened my understanding of the transformative power of education. I had a newfound appreciation and regard for the subtlety of labor that goes into curriculum development, classroom management and lectures.

I am filled with gratitude for the myriad experiences, challenges, and insights that have shaped my growth as an educator. From collaborative learning environments to inclusive pedagogical practices, from experiential learning opportunities to reflective practice, from nerves to knowledge, each facet of my residency continues to leave an indelible mark on my professional journey. I continue to embrace the lessons learned and nurture the belief that education, like occupation, is not merely a means to an end but a quest of discovery, empowerment, and transformation.


From Curiosity to Commitment: A 7-Year Quest to Unveil the Essence of OT ⟩
February 5, 2024, by Sheryl

International What are OS/OT?

As I introspect upon my journey as a pedagogy resident and doctoral student in the Post-Professional OTD program here at Chan, I reignite my glowing passion for occupational therapy and hope to do so for you.

Despite creating so many elevator pitches summarizing an answer to the question ‘So, what is Occupational Therapy?’ I still struggle doing that question justice. Among many stories that contributed to choosing my path to becoming an OT was the story of a younger version of me yet to discover occupational therapy.

It was at the age of 17 in high school where I would first hear about Occupational Therapy. One of my electives in high school created an opportunity to observe a Special Education School. It was here where I would continue to meet the most resilient and brilliant children whose diagnosis did not hinder their potential and a team of teachers and physical therapists working effortlessly to create a safe space for them to flourish. There was a need for OTs that echoed in those corridors that I notice now, and after a very invigorating experience, I proceeded to request to meet with one of the physical therapists at the school. She spoke to me about this famously untapped potential of Occupational Therapy and the very growing need for OTs. That was the conversation that brought me to my very first ‘So, what is occupational therapy?’ which would then go on to launch my dream of becoming an occupational therapist.

As my vague goals shaped into specific inquiries, my curiosity became insatiable. After extensive research about Occupational Therapy, I began to comprehend how this field was truly radical.

That day, this younger version of me in my home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia would go on to make a road map of my life with a list of OT schools all around the world with the only intention to learn the most so that she could answer her first burning ‘So, what is occupational therapy?’ I remember sticking that piece of paper on the mirror of my dresser.

It has since been 7+ years of OT school, 7 World OT days, 3 degrees in Occupational Therapy and an unquenched thirst to fathom the true power of occupational therapy and repeatedly answer that same question passionately.

After graduating from the Post Professional Master’s (PP-MA) program at USC, my inquisitive mind continued to implore me to gather knowledge about academia, the curriculum and understanding the potentiality of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. I hope to contribute to the lineage of excellence at the Division and propagate the importance of Occupational Therapy as a Post-Professional OTD student here at USC Chan. This remains my driving force as I add another pit stop on the road map I created 7 years ago.