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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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Soaking up the Sun! ⟩
November 15, 2014, by Kristy

Admissions Living in LA

One of the fantastic things about being in Southern California is getting to enjoy the sun all year long! I love being able to walk outside, go for hikes, and just enjoy the sunshine. 😊

Dogs enjoying the sun while I study

Dogs enjoying the sun while I study

Why you might ask? Well . . . I am from a very tiny town in Northern Minnesota. So while I’m out here soaking up the sun, my family and friends back home are fighting with 1 foot of snow and 20 degree weather! Yup — you read that right! It’s that cold, did someone say Polar Vortex??? Needless to say, I am thankful to be in Los Angeles! So how did I get here? Let me tell you about my journey from a small town to the big city!

Drive across the country

My pups and I on our 2100 mile journey to California!

A few years ago, I decided I was ready for a change from my job working with patients and assisting them through the process of making the appointment, preparation for, and getting the results. I loved working in the healthcare field, but I didn’t feel like I was actually making a difference in their life. More so, I was just helping them along; but I wanted to be apart of the process in their journey of getting better and living life to the fullest! So I started researching different healthcare professions. I came across your standard: pharmacist (tried that, next), nurse (shots, no thanks), doctor (length of school, meh), psychologist (hhmmm . . .), physical therapist (anatomy, too much), occupational therapy (TELL ME MORE). As I began researching occupational therapy, I just kept thinking to myself – this is it, this is me, this is what I’ve been waiting for! So I went to the AOTA webpage and started looking for schools. I knew I needed a change in my life, so what better change than to head to the west coast for graduate school! Then it was just figuring out all the prerequisites and requirements for each school and begin the application process. I was really going to do this!!! I took two courses that summer that I needed to fulfill the prereqs, and then planned a trip to visit a few colleges in California, obviously one being the University of Southern California! I fell in love! It was better than I could have dreamed, everyone was so great and USC had so much to offer! As soon as I returned home I began working on my applications and OTCAS. My goal was to submit them all and be finished by October 30th, since USC had an early deadline of November 30th and said to submit 4 weeks ahead of time! I’m happy to say I met my goal, so next was the waiting game!!! How long could it really take? Let me tell you — awhile!!! Even though I applied to several schools in California and Washington, I had already ranked them in my head, but still I wasn’t sure who I would hear from first. I waited . . . and waited . . . and waited, and then finally on Christmas Eve, I got home from work and checked my mail . . . and there it was . . . an envelope from USC. Now if you all watch TV shows, they always say you want the “big” envelopes, because “small” ones are rejection letters. Mine was a small envelope. Shakingly, I opened the letter, and much to my relief I had been accepted!!! Overcome with feelings of joy, excitement, determination, and fear, I didn’t know what to think! Was I really ready to move across the country, all by myself, where I didn’t know anyone, and pursue my dream? Fast forward a few months, I flew out to California again to find a place to live and attend the admitted student reception and knew this was absolutely the place I wanted to be! I was so excited to begin this journey.

With all that being said, I have never been happier with a decision I made. It has been one of the best thus far in my life! So never think a dream is too big, or too difficult! You can do it! And be successful! Take a risk, make a change, live your life to the fullest! That’s what we tell our patients to do, isn’t it? You can do it too! Dream big! I did. 😊


Application Season ⟩
October 13, 2014, by Leila

Admissions Community Housing and Transportation Life Hacks Videos

It’s been a while since I’ve placed my blogging lens on, but here I am! Our fall semester has made it to the midpoint and I’m sure most of you know application deadlines are fast approaching (at least for early decision). This past week I attended my first information session here at our division, but this time as a student ambassador! It’s crazy to think that nearly 2 years ago, I too, was a prospective student, nervous and excited to hear about occupational therapy at USC. I remember meeting Ricky, a student ambassador at the time, talking about his student experiences. For me, it was also refreshing to hear that he also had an undergraduate degree in business. At the time, I thought having a degree outside of the health sciences realm would hinder my application. Little did I know that the program welcomed (and continues to welcome) individuals with varying undergraduate degrees!

It was a great first time experience being on the other side at the information session, helping prospective students by answering questions and sharing my student experiences. I remember one individual asking me about my living situation and commute. For those of you that don’t know, I live in Chino, CA. It’s about 33 miles from the health science campus in Los Angeles, CA. I typically drive now due to my work hours, but some days I continue to take the metro. In fact, my first year in the program I primarily took the metro. For those of you considering our program but live or want to live in the surrounding LA area, there’s hope! I would recommend looking into public transportation. It definitely beats LA traffic!

LA city view from Metro

LA city view from Metro

I thought it would be fun to make a mini video of my commute to LA Union Station.

For those of you thinking of OT school, in the application process of OT school or anywhere in between, I wanted to let you know to not give up! I know the process can be grueling at times, but you will get there. When I decided that I wanted to pursue OT, I didn’t even know where to begin! One note of advice I do have is to seek out support. Whether it’s through a family member, a friend, a professor, an OT student, an OT, a mentor, etc. Find someone that will support you through the process.

I remember meeting Bill Wong, a former OT student at USC and asking him to be my mentor! I literally found him through an OT blog post and emailed him asking if he could share his experiences at USC. It sounds a bit creepy, but he was more than willing to and luckily, he became my mentor in the process. (Make sure to do your due diligence on the person before connecting with him or her.) Bill and I still continue to meet on a routine basis, and it’s always great to share what is going on in both our lives.

Here’s an impromptu video Bill and I made this past Sunday. Enjoy!

Last but not least, I have been suffering some migraines and neck pain, most likely due to computer work strain. I went OT on myself and ergonomically optimized my workspace! :cheese:


Eyes on the Prize ⟩
October 2, 2014, by Jonathan

Admissions Life Hacks

Hey everyone! Can’t believe it’s officially Fall already! This means a couple things — cooler weather (hopefully), Fall sports (go Lakers, Dodgers, and Trojans!), and application season! For this blog, I’m dedicating it to the hopeful prospective students in the middle of their application process. The application process is a long road, requiring patience, diligence, and sheer determination. Reflecting on my own journey, I can definitely admit that I ran into my own share of challenges. Yes, it can be tedious — taking the GRE, fulfilling prerequisites, requesting letter of recommendations, etc. — at times it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself in this situation, all I can say is, remind yourself what is fueling all your efforts. I think at times, we get so caught up in the process and the end product that we forget why we are doing things in the first place. In my personal experience, I would do my best to give myself daily reminders of my dream. Some ways to do this, which worked for me, include the following:

Reading this blog: I remember meeting Ricardo, a past USC OT student ambassador at OTAC two years ago, and told him that whenever I found myself too caught up in the application process, I would visit this blog to envision what it was like to be a student. In doing so, this would remind me of what I was working towards, and the experiences I would eventually look forward to one day.

Keep immersing yourself in occupational therapy: Listen, you’ve already found your calling, which some people spend their whole lives looking for! Now that you’ve found that OT is for you, then all I can say is start living OT today! Whether that’s volunteering, reading up on research, attending conferences, advocating for OT, etc, it’s never too early to start practicing your calling in life!

Stay balanced: Balance is something we preach in OT everyday. Surround yourself in the meaningful occupations that define who you are, because those occupations will provide perspective, especially if times get rough. I understand that the application process is monumental, but so is living and enjoying your life! In addition, by living a life of balance, you’ll be immersing yourself in a concept that you’ll be emphasizing to all the people you will eventually help one day.

Surround yourself by people who will fuel your fire: By surrounding yourself by people who will support you unconditionally, they’ll be able to give you reminders of why you’re working towards your dream. These are the people who truly understand your passion, and will give you that extra push that you need. Whether that’s family, friends, or a mentor, I can honestly say that without these people in my own life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Dream big: Finish this line: When I am an occupational therapist one day, I want to ________. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish as an OT. In doing so, you’ll give yourself that extra motivation as to why you’re engaged in the application process.

Patience, patience, patience: As i mentioned earlier, the application process takes time. It’s human nature to want instant gratification, but good things truly do come to those who wait.

Your best is all you can ask of yourself: Once you turn in your application, celebrate, blast your favorite song, and do your happy dance.  No matter the outcome, you’ve focused all your efforts over the last couple of weeks/months/years towards making your dream come true, which is all you can really ask of yourself. If that same effort shines through when you’re an OT one day,  you’re going to be an amazing clinician.

Acceptance Letter with Sister

One of the most happiest moments of my life — the day my acceptance letter came in. Here I am with my little sis, as we both got into our respective graduate programs on the same day!

Hope my words of encouragement serve you all well. Stay determined, stay hungry, and stay focused. It’s all worth it. Best of luck to you all!

— Jonathan


Prospective students, just some words of encouragement ⟩
September 26, 2014, by Brenda


A couple days ago, we hosted an information session for prospective students here on the Health Science Campus where our classes are held. It was my first information session as a student ambassador and I was able to talk about my experiences with the curriculum and about all the wonderful things I am currently involved with. In talking to those present that evening, it made me remember that not too long ago, I was in their same shoes. I remember being anxious, a bit overwhelmed, contemplating all the “what-ifs” of the application process.

But now . . . here I am! In my second year of the program!

I wanted to take some time to remind everyone who is currently in the process of applying to USC and/or other occupational therapies, IT IS ALL WORTH IT! Occupational therapy is an incredible field and while getting into a program may seem daunting at times, you have clearly chosen great profession. When you are done with submitting your applications, make sure to engage in your own enjoyable occupations! Whether it is treating yourself with your favorite food, taking a day trip to a local state park, or just relaxing while watching your favorite movie, you will have earned it!


The end is also a beginning ⟩
May 24, 2014, by Rob

Admissions Beginnings and Endings Community What are OS/OT?

Four years ago, I was a fishing reporter living in Arkansas. That version of myself would never recognize the me I have become. My life has forever changed, and I have been enriched by the imprint these two years have made on my life.

I learned how to open myself to life and the people that come into it, forming friendships I hope will last a lifetime.

We get silly for photo booth at End of Year party.

We get silly for photo booth at End of Year party.

I learned a lot about disability — in a sense, we are all disabled in some way or another — is there even such a thing as normal? I learned how to define occupational therapy. I did it so many times, I will probably have a dream where someone asks me “Does OT mean ‘overtime’?” And then I spend the next five minutes explaining what occupational therapy is. I’m not even kidding. This is going to happen.

I imagine coming to OT school at USC is kind of like going to school at Hogwarts, minus the wands, flying brooms and Argus Filch, of course. There is something special about being selected to the top program in the country and then spending two years getting to know every little nuance of the buildings, professors, and classmates that occupy the space with you. It’s like life stands still for two years — a period of shelter from the world of work, adulthood, and responsibility. Those things still exist in graduate school, of course, but they are different somehow — more temporal in nature.

For those about to begin the journey into the depths of the occupational therapy profession, good luck to you. For those that still dream about that journey, keep working towards it. What lies in the hallowed halls of USC’s Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is worth everything you put into it.

Fight on!

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