New Year, New Me? >
January 17, 2023
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!
Silver Linings >
December 3, 2022
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!
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.
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
Latinx Heritage Month Celebration >
November 29, 2022
Asociación Hispanohablante de Terapia Ocupacional (AHTO) is a student organization in the Chan Division, with the goals to improve the educational experience of Latinx students and to provide care/resources to the Spanish-speaking community. We are a group of aspiring OTs passionate about working with underrepresented and underserved communities. AHTO hopes to support the retention of students of color within the division and to advocate for the needs that our community requires. AHTO is a student organization made by the students and for the students.
We all know the importance of representation in higher education and healthcare. Therefore, the AHTO board worked together to create several events in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month.
The first event was café con pan dulce, which allowed students to connect over some cafesito and conchitas. That same day during lunch students gathered to play Loteria, which is similar to Bingo.
The next event was Case Studies en Español, and this event was made possible with the collaboration of Dr. Celso Delgado Jr.. Our two presenters, Dr. Marilyn Thompson and Dr. Daniel Padilla reviewed two different case studies in Spanish and provided tips on how to best serve the Spanish-speaking community.
We also had a social at a local Latinx-owned restaurant, Casa Fina Restaurant, to support businesses in the community. We enjoyed good food, good music, and great company. We had over 30 people at the event. It was beautiful to see so many people in one room building community.
We closed the celebration with Dia de Los Muertos. Students enjoyed tamales, pan dulce, and crafts.
AHTO hopes to create a safe space and a home away from home for those in the division. We understand that there have been other Latinx organizations before us that maybe have not lasted, but the fact that an organization keeps arising time by time lets us know the need for support in the division and the willingness of our community.
If you are a student and you are interested in getting involved, stay on the lookout for elections next semester!
If you are staff / faculty and wonder how you can best support our student group here are a few ways:
- Attend our events
- Promote our events
- Advocate for funding for student orgs
- Ask us what we need
Chika with Mika: Life as a Post-Professional Master’s Student 2022 Edition >
November 18, 2022
So in Tagalog, chika means “chit-chat”. For this month’s blog post (or rather vlog post), I wanted to chika with you what’s it like to be a post-professional master’s student here in USC Chan! Get to see the Health Science Campus where we have most of our classes and meet some of my friends here in the program. I also shared some clips of my adventures here in LA, particularly in the Grand Central Market, Griffith Park, and Venice Beach!
OT for a day! >
October 31, 2022
This month I had the opportunity to collaborate with another student organization on campus called Flying Samaritans. Flying Samaritans is an international volunteer organization that provides free health care for the underserved population in Tijuana, Mexico. The group meets on main campus and drives together to the border, parks on the US side, and then travels via taxi to a clinic in La Colonia Independencia in Tijuana, Mexico. I was very excited to participate in this project because I grew up in Tijuana, Mexico and having the opportunity to give back to my community feels amazing. I drove to the site and met the rest of the team there as the clinic was only a 10-minute drive from my parents’ house.
When I got there, I introduced myself to the volunteer group in Tijuana called Casa de Leones, which had partnered up with USC Flying Samaritans to run the free clinic. I helped set up tents, tables, and chairs for patients to sit in while they waited their turn for services. Patients first checked in and signed consent forms. Then they transitioned to the first room where undergraduate students will check their blood pressure, oxygen levels, insulin, height, and weight. Here, students will also collect patient history and ask questions regarding any concerns that brought the patient to the clinic. Patients will then transition to the second room to see a clinician for a general check-up and receive their free prescriptions. Finally, patients will meet with me to work on medication management, diabetes management, or lifestyle interventions.
Some of them shared that it was very hard to remember and be consistent with medication. Therefore, I created an individualized plan for each patient. For some, using a pill box and labels seemed to be the best option while for others teaching them how to put cellphone reminders was the way to go. Many of them had been told in the past that they needed to exercise more. However, their idea of exercise only consisted of running or weights. We had discussions of what typical days looked like for each patient and together we planned movement throughout their days.
Some patients had been coming for months and shared that they look forward to clinic days. Flying Samaritans have done a great job building rapport and providing free services that allow individuals to manage their chronic conditions. Being the OT for that day was extremely rewarding. It allowed me to put my classroom learning into practice. Not only that, but I was able to be part of an interdisciplinary team where we put our knowledge together making the patients our priority.