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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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How do you make the season bright? ⟩
December 12, 2012, by Kendra

Community School/Life Balance

Happy 12/12/12! This time tomorrow I will be blissfully done with all my final papers/exams, etc. And this time in one week I will be waking up to see the Olympic Mountains outside my window, spending my first Christmas away from my family with my husband. So many exciting changes to look forward to, and as I endeavor to make change I think on the traditions that have helped make this time of year so precious to me.

Some traditions I hold dear are food and presents (shocking I’m sure!). My family loves to gather in the kitchen and cook for hours on Christmas Eve. While we have a feast for Christmas Eve dinner we also feast throughout Christmas day, making it a relaxing, elastic waistband kind of day. But despite years of making homemade cinnamon rolls and potato soup and ceviche, we still have yet, after 20+ years of making Christmas dinner as a family, to find the perfect Christmas Eve dessert. Even though there is no perfect sweet treat to look forward to each year, it has become its own dysfunctional tradition: what new-fangled dessert do we try this year? We’ve done chocolate pudding, coconut cake, cookies, chocolate cake, and homemade ice cream. And despite all of their delicious success, we still prefer to try again next year. This odd little tradition is very close to my heart.

Another tradition I hold dear is wrapping presents. Odd right? But since I was 16, I’ve sat in my mother’s work room for hours upon hours making perfect hospital folds and sealing packages with invisible tape while my mother makes the most beautiful bows and the TV plays ‘Christmas in Connecticut’ or the ‘Muppet Christmas Carol.’ It is our quiet time between cooking and holiday parties, when we can reminisce and cry at a movie we’ve seen at least 20 times together.

This year I won’t be wrapping presents for hours or finding the perfect imperfect dessert, but I will be taking these traditions to my new family and in years to come sharing these traditions with my children. That is what makes the season bright for me.

So as people fly home, drive home, stay home for the holidays I wonder what are your holiday traditions? What do you do with your family to keep the season bright? What meals do you cook? What church service do you attend? How does your family open presents? How do you show your loved ones gratitude and love during the season?

Peace, love, and occupational therapy

Peace, Love and OT to all and happy break to students!


Wrapping Up ⟩
December 5, 2012, by Amber


This is the last week of the Fall semester, and today was my last regular class day. It was fitting that our last lecture was on end-of-life issues. It also happened to be the last day that I will spend with my cohort. I have been with the same cohort of 40 since my class was divided into three groups for our immersion courses last Fall semester. For three semesters my “Cohort B” has learned together, laughed and cried together, and become like an extended family. We have created many memories and lasting friendships.

In honor of our last day together, our classmate Kim gathered hundreds of photos and created a slideshow looking back over the past year and a half. Today we watched the slideshow while enjoying a potluck lunch, to which everyone had contributed something delicious. For the last time, we laughed and celebrated together.

I still have one more semester before graduation, so I will continue to see the people in my cohort next year. However, we will all be in different courses and have different schedules. I suppose it’s an appropriate way to mentally prepare for graduation, after which we will part ways for good. I know I will definitely miss my USC family. Go Cohort B!

Last day of class group photo


Turkey traditions ⟩
November 28, 2012, by Kendra

Community School/Life Balance

So I know I’ve talked this semester occupations that connect us to our past like laundry and care giving. While the holiday season is the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ and the ‘season of giving.’ It’s also the season of stress, travel, finals, and so many cookies it makes my head spin.

Colorful macarons

What makes this time of year manageable are the traditions and chance to connect with family. This Thanksgiving I was thankful for my family’s long line of traditions and recipes that bind us together. Each Thanksgiving we cook old recipes, swap gifts, trim trees, and sing random songs I don’t think anyone outside my gene pool would know. Possibly the most important family recipe is my great-grandmother’s ‘Mimi’s buns,’ the world’s fluffiest potato biscuit ever. Ever. Now that I’m married I have to split the holidays, and its now more than ever that I am thankful for these traditions. Even though I am far away from my family, I can knead the dough, smell the rolls baking, and be transported back to my family and all the years we have performed this task. This also allows me to create traditions with my new family. As they bite into a bun, they are connecting to my great-grandparents and becoming a part of an old, and new, tradition. To me this all goes back to social support. It doesn’t have to be the physically present kind, its in the way the air smells as the buns bake and saying my grandfather’s blessing as we sit at the table that connects me to my social support no matter the distance.

Who’d a thought buns would make the holidays better?

Family Thanksgiving dinner

So as we take part in black Fridays and cyber Mondays, pack our suitcases and ship presents think back to how it used to be. Does your family have traditions or recipes you can share with your framily (friend family) or in-laws? For thousands of years culture was passed down by tradition and storytelling. Even though we have the internet and can easily look up Ina Garten’s best recipe, what about your grandmother or great-grandmother’s recipe? The holidays are many things, but what they are across all faiths is a time to appreciate and love family. So as you sit down to feast after feast this year, think back and be thankful for the people who first found that pecan pie recipe, sewed the tablecloth, and wrote the blessing. Let your heritage connect you to now and shape your future.


Cancer Can’t Catch Caryn ⟩
November 27, 2012, by Amber


It’s challenging being a graduate student. The constant demands of schoolwork can become overwhelming at times. Now imagine doing it with cancer. My classmate and friend Caryn is fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has been undergoing chemotherapy for the past two months. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for her to continue with life as usual. Yet Caryn shows up to class every day with a smile and infectious laugh. She continues to excel academically, conquering midterms and continuing her role as Co-President of our honor society. She is even training for a half marathon in January, raising money to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

To say Caryn is an inspiration is an understatement. So after learning that she shaved her head this weekend, the occupational therapy class of 2013 mobilized a response. On Monday, every single member of our class of 130 people wore hats or scarves in a show of love and support for our friend. It was incredibly touching and more than a few tears were shed. We will continue to support Caryn in any way that we can while she continues her fight!

Read Caryn’s cancer blog.

Fight On, Caryn!

Caryn with group of supporters


USC OT gets interactive! ⟩
November 16, 2012, by Kendra


Hi blog readers. One of the great things about USC OT being #1 is we are constantly pioneering in all realms of OT. As part of our endeavor to continue being the best program in the country, we are going with the times and getting into social media!

This is where you come in. Help us test our social media this weekend by checking out our blogs and just like it is on Facebook and Twitter if you like what we have to say or have something of your own to say, like it or leave a comment (we actually check those!). Or if you want to share our link on Twitter/Google help us out by being the first to do so.

So as you watch USC Fight on and beat UCLA, take a minute during half-time to read about OT and share it with your friends!

Trojan on horseback at LA Coliseum

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