Maintaining wellness results from a good balance of work, rest, and play so I’m getting a good amount of play before my last fieldwork starts!!!
Looking Back — 1st Year ⟩
April 7, 2010, by Mari
Fall ’08 – Spring ’09
The transition from summer to fall semester was nice because we had a little more free time since we weren’t in class as often. The classes that we took were in Pediatrics, Physical Disabilities, Psychosocial Dysfunction, OT Skills, Gerontology, and Occupational Science. We also had labs for “Phys Dis” and Skills, and our Level I fieldwork (FW) during the fall and spring semesters. So, although we were spending less time in class, we were still quite busy. I chose not to work during my first year, which gave me more time to hang out with friends, help coach a club soccer team, and of course, study. 😉
Early on in the fall semester, we celebrated Priscilla getting married and threw her a surprise bridal shower! We try to find as many excuses as we can to hang out and have fun outside of school! I think she was definitely surprised!
And here’s the whole group!
Our first Level I FW was in the fall — I spent a full week at Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation in Pomona, CA, in the inpatient rehab unit. There are different departments at Casa — inpatient rehab, pediatrics, and transitional living. In the inpatient rehab department, the therapists were split into different teams, who generally treated a certain type of patient diagnosis. For example, there were teams for such diagnoses like spinal cord injury and brain injury/stroke, my team being the latter. My Clinical Instructor (CI) was Lisa and she was very knowledgeable and friendly! It was great to be able to work with her and see what it was like to be an OT in that setting. Casa had been pretty recently remodeled, so the facility was very impressive!
Here is a picture of the “Stroke” team on Halloween! It was a great way to end my fun week visiting Casa!
My second Level I FW was in the spring — me, along with 32 other USC OT students, and 6 CIs spent two full weeks in Ghana! We worked with children with disabilities at the Mephibosheth Training Center (MTC), which is a boarding school for the children. This ministry was started by a Ghanaian pastor and his wife, who is a PT from the US. When we were there, there were 20 children, ages ~5-21 years old. In Ghana, they didn’t really know exactly how old the children were, and it made it tough to tell because many of them looked much younger than they really were. In Ghana, much, if not all of their livelihood is from physical labor or skills that a person has, therefore, people who have disabilities are looked down upon and seen as useless and hopeless. It is very sad, but infanticide is quite common if a child is born atypically, despite it being against the law. So, this is why MTC is such a wonderful place!
The children are taken in and they live at the boarding school for three months at a time. They will go home or to the orphanage they came from for one whole month, every three months. This is to encourage the children’s parents and the orphanage staff to be involved with their children’s health and well-being. At MTC, the children live amongst each other in a dormitory and they attend school and church together. Most of the children have chores and they are able to take care of themselves for the most part. It was so great to see how they truly act as one big family! What we were there for, was to help the children to increase their ability to do their everyday occupations. Two or three USC students were assigned one or two children. We assessed and observed them while they were in school, eating, and doing chores and self-care, in order to pinpoint what was going on with them and what they needed the most help with. We then developed a treatment plan, which we implemented during the week. And we created home and classroom programs (that were mostly pictures), which we taught to the children’s parents/orphanage staff and their teachers.
Going to Ghana was one of my most favorite experiences since I’ve been in OT school! Everything about it was amazing — the OT aspect: I learned so much in the short time that we were there and it really challenged my clinical reasoning skills and ability to think out of the box; the Christian aspect: being in a Christian environment was powerful as I saw some of my non-Christian USC friends being touched by the love that the Ghanaian children and people have for Jesus; the Ghanaian aspect: I absolutely loved Ghanaian culture — people were so laid back and friendly, it reminded me of home in Hawaii! We have so many stories and great memories from the trip, but here are a few pictures.
Meet Amanquah (~13 years old) — isn’t he so cute!? Sarah (another student ambassador) and I were partners on this trip and we had the opportunity to work with Aman! He didn’t have a specific diagnosis, but he had CP-like symptoms and malnutrition. He was very weak — he had to use a wheelchair to get around and would scamper on the ground on his elbows, hands, and knees to get around. He had a difficult time holding his head up, which inhibited him from efficiently participating in many of his occupations — eating, self-care, and doing schoolwork. He also didn’t speak much, but we could tell he was very bright!
Barb was Sarah and my CI — it was her first time to Ghana as well. She was great! She brought a lot of good ideas and insight into our treatment and care for Aman!
Here is Sarah and Aman taking a break between one of the exercises that we were doing to increase the strength of Aman’s neck extensors (to lift his head up).
And here’s Aman and me doing one of his other favorite occupations — drawing and writing!
Also, during the spring, my birthday, which happens to be Earth Day, came around, and of course, some of my friends and I used it as a reason to get together after class!
And another great way to end the year — OT Banquet/Prom! A fun night of dressing up, good food, dancing, and great company!
So that was a glance back at my first year. It definitely flew by quickly! To sum up the school portion of it — FW, labs, group projects, practicums, and site visits!
Looking Back — Summer 2008 ⟩
March 7, 2010, by Mari
When it all began . . .
As we’re nearing the end of our OT school journey, I can’t believe we’ll be graduating so soon — I have mixed feelings of excitement to be done, sadness to leave the comfort of student life, and anxiety about where I’ll end up in the future. I can just remember when I was in the process of applying to OT school and deciding where to go, when I had my weekly email and phone conversations with Sarah Kelly to ask her my list of questions and help with the decision process! It’s definitely true that time sure flies by when you’re having fun! Lately, I’ve been thinking about all the amazing times I’ve had at USC in the past couple years. So, for my next few blogs, I thought I would take you back through my experience as an OT student at USC!
First, we start with the summer of 2008 when we were immersed in what it really meant to be a full-time student! We didn’t know if we were going to make it out of the summer still being able to think and function during our fall semester classes, but of course, it was completely fine!
As we were lined up to go into the auditorium, I’m sure everyone remembers the first people they befriended! For me, it was Wendy and Miriam!
Here’s Wendy and I pretending to be happy right before our Kinesiology final. 😉
Although it was a lot of studying, we definitely found time to have fun too! We love celebrating birthdays!
Here’s Tina blowing out her candles at the Wine & Dine event hosted by the OT House.
And this is a group picture from Miriam’s birthday — we went to a modern-day play of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and ate at the Tofu House in Korea Town!
We also had fun in Dr. Fazio’s Skills class, which worked out to be the perfect stress reliever from Kinesiology and Neuroscience!
Here’s an angel pot holder that I made from ceramic tiles and grout — probably one of my favorite pieces!
And who knew Neuroscience could be fun too (sorry, Myka — she’s another Student Ambassador who was a Neuroscience major)?! At the end of the summer, I brought in a cake that was in the shape of spinal bone, marking a few of the tracts that ran through it. A little nerdy, I know, but I always think there’s some way to incorporate food into your projects — it just makes it more fun for everyone!
And that’s about it for the first summer. It was definitely a busy summer, but filled with fun as a great start to OT school! =)