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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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AOTA: 10/10 Would Recommend


April 9, 2022

Community Getting Involved

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Back in February, Dr. Rafeedie sent me an email with the subject “Free AOTA Registration” — which was weird because I never win anything — apparently, I had won a free registration for the AOTA Inspire 2022 Annual Conference & Expo. As I was entertaining the idea of buying a flight ticket to Texas for this conference, Bianca and Dr. McNulty did the most to convince me: they told me about the USC Trojan Reception. And although they had me at party — I mean reception — I still had to con$ider other factor$. In her email, Dr. Rafeedie added, “Not sure if you would plan a trip to San Antonio around this . . . but virtual is also an option.”

Planning a trip meant I would spend money on my flight, hotel, and food, which I hadn’t necessarily budgeted for, and because I am working on not making impulsive decisions, I slept on it before accepting. The smart, financial friendly, option would have been to attend the event virtually. Did I do that? No — but listen, the hotel was discounted because I split it with friends, AND the experience was priceless. I should say that the only reason I’ve been able to remain cool, calm, and collected despite the hefty price tag attached to graduate school/USC is because I continuously tell myself that this is an investment I am making. Repeat after me: I am investing in myself and my future. So, truly, in the name of professional development and networking, I decided to book my flight and attend the conference in-person in Texas.

Here’s a little glimpse into the experience:


The conference started on Thursday and went until Sunday. Some friends arrived Wednesday to attend sessions that were happening on the first day of the conference, while others arrived on Thursday night. We downloaded the AOTA app which allowed us to view the different session topics and times, making it easier to create our “AOTA session lineup” (Plevack, 2022). My lineup included “conversations that matter” and “short courses” on topics such as collaboration between OTs and behavior analyst, meeting the mental and behavioral needs of children, moving into mental health practice, and sexuality as a meaningful occupation, to name a few. We also attended the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lecture as a group. In case you missed it, Dr. Mary Lawlor became the “16th USC-affiliated recipient of the [AOTA Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship] award, and will deliver her Slagle Lecture during the 2023 AOTA conference in Kansas City.”

Girlfriends in front of AOTA backdrop

Friends at AOTA: Silvia Hernandez-Cuellar, Daniela Flores-Madriaga, Michelle Plevack, Monica Martinez

Slagle Lecture award

A proud moment: Dr. Mary Lawlor winning the Eleanor Clarke Slagle Lectureship award

AOTA selfie with friends

AOTA day 3, but first #SELFIE


I was taking my first sip of coffee, sitting in an NBCOT session, when I received a text that read: “Hi! Just confirming you’re working the booth this morning . . .” Woops. So yes, I might’ve forgot that I was supposed to be working a shift and arrived 15 minutes late, but everything worked out. I talked to many OT peeps — students, faculty, staff, alumni, fieldwork educators, vendors, the list goes on. I also I put my networking skills to work and felt the power of being part of the #TrojanFamily. Good things await and it is exciting!

Sitting at the USC booth

Me at the USC both; working hard or hardly working?

Trojan Family Reception

I can’t say much because what happens in Texas, stays in Texas. However, I will say that even if you don’t win one of the raffled prizes (remember I said I never win anything), you will still have a night to remember.

A picture with Bianca

Bianca, I, and the view from the balcony of the Trojan Family Reception

A picture of some Latinx students with Dr. Diaz

Una foto con el Dr. Diaz

Students with Dr. Rafeedie

MA2 students with Dr. Rafeedie



If you ask me, I would 10/10 recommend that you attend an AOTA conference.