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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Yoojin

23 Truths for 2023 >

by Yoojin

Community First-Gen School/Life Balance

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Happy New Year Chan! I compiled some of my favorite quotes. There’s a good mix of bookmarked lines from cherished books, reminders for when life is a little rough, and encouragements to live a compassionate and sacrificial life.

  1. “To me, there was magic in learning.” — Michelle Obama, Becoming
  2. “Occupational therapy is more than a job. For many it is a calling. We felt drawn to it.” — Amy Lamb, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA
  3. “Do what is good. Advocate for what is right. And fight for what is important.” — Bryan Morales
  4. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
  5. “There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.” — John Green, Turtles All the Way Down
  6. “It always seems impossible until it is done.” — Nelson Mandela
  7. “I wasn’t going to let one person’s opinion dislodge everything I thought I knew about myself.” — Michelle Obama, Becoming
  8. “We don’t do all our growing up between birth and adolescence or even our twenties. If we’re fortunate, we never stop.” — Diane Guerrero, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
  9. “The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.” — Max Lucado, Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World
  10. “Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” — Bob Kerrey
  11. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” — Plato
  12. “We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don’t know what to do, we never give up.” — 2 Corinthians 4:8
  13. “An education is not so much about making a living as making a person.” — Tara Westover, Educated
  14. “Why can’t I just eat my waffle?” — Barack Obama
  15. “Listening to an underserved population is how you begin to understand them and serve them better.” — Constance Wu
  16. “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” — Proverbs 17:17
  17. “Being yourself is all it takes. If you want to impress someone don’t be someone else just be yourself.” — Selena Gomez
  18. “Living without passion is like being dead.” — Jungkook
  19. “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” — Eleanor Brownn
  20. “Family is the most important thing in the world.” — Princess Diana
  21. “It was possible, I knew, to live on two planes at once — to have one’s feet planted in reality but pointed in the direction of progress.” — Michelle Obama, Becoming
  22. “Fall seven times, get up eight.” — Naoki Higashida
  23. “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy

Bryan M.

Cycling Saved Me! >

by Bryan M.

Community Living in LA School/Life Balance

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Whenever prospective students ask me what I wish I would have known at the start of OT school, I always say the same thing: find something removed from OT school that you love doing, and keep consistent with it. Finding balance during your few years learning how to be an OT practitioner is a key part of preventing burnout and enhancing the learning experience in the classroom. Prioritizing your life outside of school is so important because it directly influences the kind of professional you are when you graduate. In this blog, I’m taking the time to write about my favorite non-OT related occupation: indoor cycling.

I began indoor cycling consistently in 2019 after I signed up for a class with an on-campus club I was a part of. My first class was rocky: I slept through my alarm, showed up late, and my foot got unclipped from the bike so I wasn’t able to take half of the class. Luckily, thanks to a new rider feedback form, the studio gave me a free class to try again, so I gave it another shot. This second class is where my love for cycling sprouted.

SoulCycle advertises itself as an “immersive and intense full-body workout,” and I can certainly attest to that. I fell in love with SoulCycle because I appreciated being able to work out both my body and my mind during class, mindfully listening to the inspiring words the instructors spoke while also cuing the exercise progression. I loved the classes so much that I ended up working for the company as Front Desk staff, something that I do even to this day while in OT school.

My love for indoor cycling exemplifies the power of meaningful occupations. Through the activity, I am able to provide myself a just-right challenge, keeping me engaged and motivated each time I go. Because of my commitment to this occupation, I am able to live a more balanced lifestyle in which my life isn’t consumed with only school and work. I’ve been able to remind myself that I am not just an occupational therapy student and have a life outside of school that I value and prioritize. I’m a well-rounded occupational being! This is something I think OT graduate students tend to forget, which is why I’m trying to remind others through this blog.

4 years later and nearly 500 classes later, I still consider indoor cycling one of my favorite occupations. Truly, I am so grateful for SoulCycle’s ability to keep me grounded during the trials and tribulations of school.

Tania

New Year, New Me? >

by Tania

Classes Community Diversity First-Gen School/Life Balance

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Starting a new year can feel weird at times because there is this weird societal pressure of being the best new version of yourself. However, if you ask me, I am already a different person from 5 months ago. In fact, each day we evolve. At times, we sit reminiscing on the things we didn’t accomplish the years before. Our minds go on and on about the should ofs and could ofs but we don’t have control over those anymore.

Maybe this year is not about reinventing or being the newest best version of yourself but instead about being patient, caring, and loving to the person you are right now. I invite you to instead or in conjunction with writing new year’s resolutions, take the time to celebrate ALL your accomplishments (big and small) and appreciate your life’s journey. This year block the outside noise!

This is because as first-generation, low-income, Latinx students we usually carry the weight of our families. We are forced to create our paths, we navigate unknown territories and we receive plenty of no’s along the way. Being the first in the family to do something different requires many “mistakes” that later turn into lessons for those that come after us. However, the beauty of being a first-generation, low-income, Latinx student is that we don’t take NO for an answer. It may take us longer, it may take us a few tears, and it may take us finding different ways to get there, but we are determined to accomplish what our heads and hearts set themselves to do because our families already sacrifice too much. We know how it was before so the only direction is forward. In my case, little Tania didn’t wake up every day at 3 am to commute across the US-Mexico border for 10 years for today’s Tania to give up now.

Little me would be so proud to see what was once a dream is now a reality. Present day Tania is working towards becoming a doctor in occupational therapy and accepted a paid residency at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD)!

This 2023 there is no newest best version of me and there is no need for the newest best version of yourself either. So as hard as it can be, appreciate the now and be patient with who you are because past you once dreamed of who and where you are today. I’m sure little you is proud of how far you have come and your validation is the one that matters!

Leah

Finding Housing in LA When Moving from Out of State! >

by Leah

Community Housing and Transportation Life Hacks Living in LA

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While from Northern California, I had been living in Seattle, WA for a few years before moving to LA for USC.

Things I considered when looking for housing in LA

Cost
While there are plenty of benefits to living in Currie Hall (convenience / community aspect of living around a lot of other OT students) I thought it was too expensive for my budget. I wanted to find something more affordable in the East LA area. I paid $860/month the first year and now $950/month (boo inflation) but I still found this more affordable than a lot of other options I was seeing.

Some neighborhoods I checked out
Alhambra, Pasadena, Highland Park, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, Arcadia, Los Feliz, and Silverlake.

Who to live with
I was interested in living with other graduate students since we would be understanding of each other’s schedules and interests. I moved in with 2 second year physical therapy students. I loved that we were in fields similar enough to be excited about what the other person was studying, but I felt like it relieved me from pressure of always having to talk about school with roommates. It was also super helpful that the apartment was already mostly furnished since I did not have furniture from when I lived in Washington.

My interests / hobbies
While living in Seattle, some of my favorite occupations included being outdoors hiking or camping. I decided to live in the Alhambra area due to its easy access to the Los Angeles National Forest. I love seeing mountains from my window and being only 20 minutes away from several trailheads. If you are really interested in the beach / surfing / etc. then West LA might be a better fit!

Helpful Facebook pages I joined

Aisha

Silver Linings >

by Aisha

Classes Community Diversity

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On Thursday, my team and I presented a poster on our community program proposal for our OT 537 course. I felt incredibly proud of the hard work we put into developing a justice-based occupational therapy program called Silver Linings to help previously incarcerated youth successfully reintegrate into the community. Using an occupational therapy lens, we aim to reduce recidivism which is the likelihood of rearrests, and occupational deprivation, which is when external circumstances restrict or limit people’s ability to engage in meaningful activities that promote health and well-being. As many of you may know, youth of color are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system and treated worse than their white counterparts (Gigante et al., 2022). Although this is a proposal for a class project, my team members and I are passionate about increasing access for marginalized groups and promoting occupational justice. Therefore, we would like to see programs like this implemented in the future. It was encouraging to hear Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh, one of our inspirations and role models in this field, tell us we should make this happen. That moment was invigorating and reignited the drive I felt when I began OT school!

A photo of my team members and me at our poster presentation

My incredible team members and me at our poster presentation! Shout out to Dejaney, Zoë, and Sadie. 😊

I’m not going to lie; this semester was very challenging. I struggled with imposter syndrome, burnout, and personal issues while balancing family obligations, work, and school. All of these factors impacted my motivation and mental well-being. I’ve had one too many crying sessions while battling self-doubt and the urge to give up.

No matter how challenging a situation is, there are always silver linings. As I write this, I am grateful for my countless blessings this semester. The first is my supportive family, friends, peers, and professors, who constantly encourage me to take care of myself, produce quality work, and remind me of how far I’ve come. I am forever thankful to be surrounded by brilliant human beings who challenge and inspire me to be the best version of myself personally and professionally. Second, I discovered rock climbing, my new hobby and restorative occupation. Lastly, in the field of occupational therapy, where there is only 5% Black representation, I am filled with joy to be in the midst of incredible history in the making.

Some of my peers, a group of Black women who will be future occupational therapists, and Dr. Anvarizadeh!

Some of my peers, a group of Black women who will be future occupational therapists, and Dr. Anvarizadeh!

Gigante, C. I., Rak, K., Kaplan, A., Helmcamp, L., Otoo, C., & Sheehan, K. M. (2022). A community-based youth diversion program as an alternative to incarceration, Illinois, 2017–2019. American Journal of Public Health, 112(9), 1265–1268. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2022.306946

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