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Marvyn

TwentyTwenty-ONE: The Ambassador Year Round-Up >

by Marvyn

Diversity Life Hacks What are OS/OT?

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Happy DAY ONE (and sadly last) day of Blog-mas! It has been such a blast reading everyone’s blog entries over the past 2 weeks. I hope that this Blog-mas helped you in any shape or form during the holidays! But if you come across this blog at a random point in time in the future, welcome!

For the last blog post of 2021, I decided to round up all the current ambassadors to create this collaboration blog! Call it “The Avengers” of blogs if you will. Crossover blog of the year! While I don’t get carried away, I asked each ambassador the following questions: “What have you learned in life from 2021?” and “What is your TOP GOAL for 2022?” Let’s see everyone’s responses!

SETH: “As I look back on 2021 what I’ve learned is that no matter how much you grow and transplant yourself, you always have your roots. Up until this past year, I couldn’t wait to get out of my hometown and escape to the big LA city, but after a couple of months of quarantine, I really began to discover a newfound and indescribable appreciation for the place and people that raised me. When we slowly began to transition back to in-person classes I realized how much I missed the peace and quiet, the dinners with my family, and the pace of life. After five years, I felt like, for the first time, I had feet firmly planted in both places. At a point in my life where I am figuring out the next steps, it is nice to know that I have it in me to be adaptable, but also that I have a place that fits the stereotype of a home is where the heart is.

As I look forward to 2022 my top goal is to spend more time doing the things that mean the most to me and to find more small moments of joy throughout my day. It is easy to fall into a slump or get busy or to focus on what might not be going as planned, but being able to feel those things, quickly shift perspective, and take action is a philosophy that I’d like to more seriously put into practice. I always come around eventually, but by being more mindful, more present, and more intentional I believe I could enrich my 2022 experience. Big things are on the horizon and I want to give them, and myself, the love and attention they deserve! Here’s to the new year and new habits, roles, and routines!”


KAYLA: “While this year has taught me a lot, more than anything I learned how to enjoy the journey. When faced with difficult situations I am always anticipating something going wrong, and pre-stressing about fixing problems. This year I really tried to change my thinking from “what if it goes wrong” to embrace the ideology of “what if it goes right”. This subtle change has helped me be more present for the huge changes happening in my life, allowed me to be more mindful, and have the capacity to enjoy my experiences in the moment rather than having to reflect on them later down the line.

During this next year I want to be really intentional with what I do and how I spend my time. I am a self-proclaimed “sleepy girl” and will choose sleep over anything 9 times out of 10. In 2022, I want to take advantage of more opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone. I want to go new places, try new things, and have new experiences all 2022!”


TERESA: “Looking back, I accomplished each goal I set for myself in 2021, which is not something I’ve been able to say in a while. I think this was due in part to my primary goal for the year, which was to accept that so many things in life are out of my control and to learn to be okay with that. However, I can be in control of the way I act and react to situations. With this approach, it allowed me to tackle goals which were internally motivated but contingent on an external source and completely out of my control.

In 2022, my only resolution is to show more self-compassion and for some reason, that seems more daunting a task than prior years. I am my own worst critic because I always thought if you’re self-aware of every single one of your flaws, then no one else can use them against you… right? Except in 2021, I realized that I tend to use them against myself. As a student and future OT, I’m always reminding myself that I can’t pour from an empty cup but I also need to remember that outside of those roles, I am also human. As a human, I’m inevitably going to mess up but despite these mistakes, the person I need forgiveness and validation from most is myself. Also, the members of BTS said to “Love Yourself” so, in 2022, I will be. I’m going to accept love from the world, from those I love, from myself, and return that love tenfold.”


SILVIA: There’s more to life than ___.
For a long time, my life has revolved around school and family, two very important things to me. From wanting to perform at the top of my class to trying to mediate family tensions, these two aspects of my life have also brought the most stress and anxiety. This year, I have found myself sitting in the ugly and telling myself, “There has got to be more to life than this.” “This” stands for the feelings, the worries, the distress—everything that is making me unhappy at that given moment. This reminder has allowed me to sit, feel, and embrace my emotions… and then let them go so that I too can keep going.

Top Goal for 2022: Learn to Adult.
Some may say that I entered adulthood a couple years ago, but that is fake news. Truth is, I am turning 26 this year (next month actually) and that means going through the rite of passage that marks my transition into adulthood: getting kicked off my parents’ health insurance. In light of this, I have made a list of “important things I must learn to do as an adult.”
1. Learn to budget. Shoutout to Kimberly Kho for sharing some of her tips and tricks with me—the Mint App will be my best friend in 2022.
2. Learn to do my own taxes. I’ve heard TurboTax can help me get the job done, but I have a feeling that my father will sit me down for a 3-hour explanation instead.
3. Figure out my health insurance situation. Bless the student health insurance, for now. After graduation, I have a feeling I will be listening to another 3-hour explanation from my father on how to do this.”


ALYSSA: “In the spirit of blogmas lists, here’s my list of what I learned in 2021: (1) I’m a podcast person now. (2) There’s more to life than the coasts! I’ve flown between NJ and CA so many times and this summer I had the opportunity to explore in between via road trip from Chicago back to LA. 10/10 recommend. (3) Living with your best friends is the best way to live.

My goal for 2022 is to enjoy exercising at home. I felt like I missed my window to get #fit with at-home workouts in 2020 but who’s to say where the pandemic is headed in 2022, so… time to sweat!”


GUY: “This past year I learned to cherish those close relationships I hold dear in my life. Life is short! My top goal for 2022 is to continue to spend more time with my lifelong friends celebrating and enjoying life like I did on my birthday this past year.”


MARVYN: “And as for me, 2021 has been a roller coaster of a ride. Looking back, I realized that I have achieved a lot of the goals I set for myself. I was able to pause my life as a practicing occupational therapist back at home to pursue my Master’s degree here at USC. I was able to step out of the box (mainly because of quarantine and lockdowns back in 2020), and I pushed the boundaries of my comfort zones coming here as an international student. I have become more independent than I ever was, and I became more confident in myself and my capabilities as a person and as a professional. 2021 has been such a teacher for me, in such a way that even though you are miles away from your family, I am in such a great, and importantly very safe, environment to achieve my goals in life. I am overwhelmed with pride and humility at the same time because I didn’t expect to be who I have become today. If “2020 Marvyn” saw me today as he starts his 2021, he would be in disbelief at the sheer amount of growth he has had over one year.

2022 is a promising, yet daunting year for my life. I am slated to graduate with my Master’s degree this year and that my professional life will be catapulted swiftly into the real world. If there’s anything I want to look back on by the end of 2022, it is that I want to become a licensed and practicing occupational therapist here in the USA. No matter what hurdles may come my way, I do hope Destiny and Fate agree with my goals and guide me through the right paths. I am so excited at the same time nervous for what’s to come, but I hope 2022 would be my best friend much like how 2021 was to me.
SIDENOTE: I want to take more pictures around LA too (and that’s just a side quest I’m also looking forward to doing very soon)!”


And that’s a wrap! Thank you all for a wonderful 2021 and for reading our fun series of blogs over the past few days. New Years is tomorrow, and we here at the student ambassador team are so excited to greet 2022 with you.

Marvyn

7 BEST Photos from my PP-MA Classmates >

by Marvyn

Diversity International Living in LA

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In light of the 7th day of Blog-mas, I decided to show off 7 of my wonderful classmates who make our class as unique as it could be. I am so honored to be part of their class, and I figured they needed to be highlighted as well. I asked them what their BEST photo is here in LA so far, and why they think they chose that photo. Check it out!

Cindy Teow: “I really enjoy nature, so hiking at Eaton Canyon with my classmates was the highlight of this season for me! They made hiking enjoyable though the hike was tougher than expected. The same could be said for this semester, their cheerful and helpful disposition made this semester manageable.”

Nandita Raman: “This picture was taken at a place I recently visited place called ‘The Last Bookstore’. It is truly a paradise for book lovers like me. The atmosphere is so warm and cozy, and it brings out the magic of books. This is one of the best places I have been to in LA!”

Tristenne Ocampo: “This photo captures what life has been as an international student in LA — so much life, art, and color! this applies to the food, places, and people I have encountered.”

Florence Yang: “Exploring nature, practicing yoga, and taking photos are all things that bring me joy and energy, and this photo encapsulated my most joyful moment. I took this photo while I was hiking through Switzer falls trail with my friends. I love how this trunk was lying beside the trail, which created the perfect spot for a split!”

Godfrey Lok: “This photo is my personal best in MA-1. It was taken when we had an Halloween celebration event. All of our class dressed up and we were having so much fun in the patio! Could you tell what characters are we mimicking?”

Vanessa Mesa: “This is my best photo because it reminds me of the good days that spontaneity can bring about. Saying yes to last minute events can sometimes turn out to be one of the bests I can look back to!”

Jean Chen: “My new life in LA has become brighter because of getting to know new friends at USC. We could freely share our ups and downs together. Here we are enjoying a meal at my house.”

I would like to thank my classmates for participating in my blog! Living in LA has been a blast for us, international students, and I believe there will be much more adventures to be found along our journey.

My Experience in Creating the World OT Day Video for the USC Chan Division >

by Global Initiatives Team

Diversity International Videos What are OS/OT?

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By Kashvi Shah, Post-Professional Master’s student

Editors Michelle Plevack and Abraham Ramirez
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students

“Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” — Brené Brown.

At USC Chan, we have a diverse global community with a significant percentage of international students. Most of them struggle to find their sense of belonging in this new environment and find it challenging to develop resilience. However, “true belonging does not require you to change who you are: it requires you to be who you are” (Brené Brown).

Hence, on this World OT Day, I thought it would be a great idea to involve our student community in celebrating ourselves and our profession. I approached Dr. Daniel Park at the Global Initiatives office with the idea of creating a short video film of our students on the theme by WFOT (World Federation of Occupational Therapists): Belong, Be You. I am sure you began to wonder what these words mean to you. And so did I.

Kashvi in the process of World OT Day video editing

Kashvi in the process of World OT Day video editing

Earlier, I was excited about this project as I found an opportunity to contribute to this with my interest in videography and editing. However, soon after my excitement turned into anxiety. The technical aspects of videography then seemed less challenging than the conceptualization of this video, which was more entangled than expected.

Fortunately, I had the assistance of Marvyn Ngo, our MA-1 Student Ambassador at USC Chan, who always corroborated my ideas and furthermore, helped in reaching out to students for participation in the video.

The most exciting and enthralling part of this process began next, as it was finally time to put together what the participants had shared. Ann Beattie once said “People forget years and remember moments.” That is exactly what the video clips from our participants’ cherished moments were. They could feel their belonging in celebrating who they really are! I enjoy dancing as a meaningful occupation wholeheartedly and being myself is my true belonging. I was glad to see how all our participants found meaning in different activities.

For me this experience was so enriching. From facing the challenges of generating ideas to the support in executing them, and from the excitement of creation to the anxiety of outcome, it was indeed a whirlwind. For this opportunity, I am grateful to those at the Chan Division who added meaning to my belonging at USC.

Kashvi enjoying dance, Being herself!

Kashvi enjoying dance, Being herself!

References

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Avery.

Brown, B. (2017). Braving the wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. New York, NY: Random House.

Beattie, A. (2002). Where you’ll find me and other stories. New York, NY: Scribner.

Seth

From Inside of Your Mind to Outside of Your Closet: Making a Case for Dressing >

by Seth

Diversity What are OS/OT?

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We all know that a good dressing can make or break a salad, but what can it do for your day? No, I’m not talking about dousing yourself in ranch, Italian, or even a tasteful balsamic vinaigrette, this blog is about clothes! The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (OTPF): Domain and Process (4th ed.; 2020) defines dressing as:

Selecting clothing and accessories with consideration of time of day, weather, and desired presentation; obtaining clothing from storage area; dressing and undressing in a sequential fashion; fastening and adjusting clothing and shoes; applying and removing personal devices, prosthetic devices, or splints. (p. 30)

When I am asked about dressing, however, I simply define it as one of my favourite occupations.

We all know the basics: is it hot outside? Put on a t-shirt. Is it time for bed? Time for pajamas! Do you have an interview later today? Gotta wow them with your best business casual. Some people may find these decisions a chore, as something that takes up those precious moments in the morning that you could instead use to snooze your alarm. It could even be that you may be one of these people, but I often think that there are a lot of missed opportunities when it comes to dressing and I’m here to push the envelope. Although AOTA’s definition is dynamic, two parts stand out, two parts that open the door for this conversation, and those are “consideration” and “desired presentation.”

The Black
I have to admit that it took me some time to understand the nuances of what “desired presentation” really meant. To set the scene for you, I want to take you on my personal journey with the occupation of dressing. If a stranger looked at me in high school, they would probably describe my sense of style as “prep.” Without fail you could spot me in a neutral or plaid button-up shirt with sleeves cuffed to the forearm over a standard pair of khakis. I woke up every morning, donned a variation of this outfit, and walked out the door without a second thought. When I look back at that time, however, I think that by dressing in preppy I was actually prepping for a day that I thought would change everything; the day I came out as gay. I thought that if I made the way I looked more palatable and if I blended in more that when the day came, people wouldn’t be so quick to reject me. That they’d at least think twice about it. It turns out that every seemingly unconscious dressing decision I made considered that outcome and I so desperately wanted it to not be the case.

A young man holding up a peace sign in front of a Chan Division sign

High School Seth before the first week of classes at USC in August 2017, AKA photographic evidence of the aforementioned button-up, cuffed sleeves, and khakis.

The White
Things began to change my senior year when I realized that that time in my life was coming to an end. Graduation was on the horizon and I began to loosen my collar, wear some jeans every once in a while, and add some colour into the rotation. Then came the news that I was admitted to USC’s BS-MA program and, although it was months before the semester started, my mind was already in LA. What was I thinking about? That a new place meant a new me, and even more importantly, a new wardrobe. I started to go thrifting and over time, with the support of my lovely community, I decided to let the world know I was capital G-A-Y, GAY! When I got dressed in the morning, this was the desired presentation I coordinated everything around. USC just had to know. Talk about a complete 180°.

A slightly older man wearing a rainbow crop top and yellow short shorts

First-Year Seth at his first LA Pride, June 2018. To this day, I stand by this outfit.

And All the Colours In-Between
As the years have passed, and as I’ve grown with my intersectional identities, the way I dress has grown with me and now lies somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I think the single-driving force that informs how I dress is not what I want for others to see, but what I want for myself. On a cloudy day, I’ll bring my own sunshine by wearing my brightest outfit. As the leaves start to change colours, I’ll camouflage myself to match.

A matured young man smiling while wearing overalls and a vintage sweater

Me this semester, November 2021, comfy and coordinated down to a lavender mask.

I’ve found that weather and time can only change so much, but what I feel when I wake up in the morning is always something new. It’s this uncertainty that makes dressing exciting to me. It’s how one day a shirt can convey one message, but the next day when paired with a different pair of pants it says something totally different. Although what I consider may seem to be more considerate of myself, I want to highlight, however, that High School Seth was just as authentic as First-Year Seth who is just as authentic as the Seth I present to the world now. The one thing that they all have in common, and the thing we all have in common regardless of our identities, is that in each stage there was an intention for a specific desired outcome. Although this blog shares my story, it by no means is meant to capture anyone else’s. That being said, we all get dressed and we all make decisions while doing so. I invite you to take a closer look at the dressing decisions you make, and who knows, you may even help a client do the same in your future practice! Here are some questions to help guide you as you embark the journey to making dressing one of your favourite occupations too:

  • What is your intention for the day and what ways do you desire being perceived? How can you align the two?
  • Do the clothes you chose match how you feel? Or do they reflect how you want to feel? How does the way you dress support your social and emotional health? Think style with a side of self-fulfilling prophecy!
  • How does dressing interact with other occupations? Does it influence your social participation? What’s its relationship with hygiene and grooming occupations?
  • I shared how I use dressing to express my identities, do you use dressing to express yours? If yes, which and how?
  • Who says dressing can’t be leisure or play! If today was a costume party, what theme would you dress for?

And lastly, it’s a new day, what do you want to put out into the world?

Teresa

Fight, Fight, Fight On! >

by Teresa

Admissions Classes Diversity Living in LA

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Tomorrow is the big game and with it comes the long-standing question of Los Angeles: “USC or UCLA?” Forget sideline reporters, say goodbye to sports commentators, play-by-play who? I believe I am the most qualified individual to provide an answer for these reasons:

  1. I went to UCLA
  2. I go to USC
  3. Refer back to reasons 1 and 2

All jokes aside, when I committed to USC for graduate school, I had some concerns about how I would transition from the nation’s #1 public university into the #1 occupational therapy program. Without further ado, here is one Brojan (Bruin turned Trojan, or vice versa)’s totally impartial, and absolutely not at all biased, take on my experiences at both schools.

Quarter System vs. Semester System
At UCLA, we followed a quarter system, meaning each term was 10 weeks long, three terms each academic year. Because of how fast-paced this was, I thought a semester system would be an easy adjustment but sometimes, it still feels like my mind functions on 10 weeks’ time. Kind of like when you return from traveling somewhere really far and have to readjust to the time difference. Yeah — just like that, but for a much longer period of time. For example, I am currently entering week 14 out of 16 and my mind is saying to the semester, “...You’re done. You’re done. You should be three weeks into the next term already.” Because 16 weeks and NOT 10? The math is just not mathing for me. What does make sense for me, however, is how nice it feels to have time to sit with content, follow up about anything I need clarification on, and really feel like I’m learning and not just regurgitating. And it doesn’t hurt that with the longer terms come longer breaks!

Public University vs. Private University
Growing up, the words “private school” sounded so elite and since public school was all I had known, attending a public university like UCLA after high school felt like the natural progression, so I didn’t even bother applying to USC.

A photo of Teresa in May 2012 standing in the USC Bookstore. She has superimposed a bear emoji on top of her face. She is wearing a UCLA shirt and gesturing to the USC shirts hanging in the store.

Sophomore me visiting the USC Bookstore on a high school field trip in May 2012. The irony is not lost on me that I now have the sweater in the background, which I am currently wearing while writing this.

When applying to OT school, a part of me still held the notion that private = elite and public = diversity, but that myth was quickly dispelled when I met my classmates, who are each so different and unique in their backgrounds, life perspectives, age, appearance, and interests, thanks to the holistic admissions process implemented at USC Chan. The insights shared by my classmates both in and out of the classroom have been quintessential to facilitate my learning as I continue to develop my clinical identity. I feel an immense sense of pride knowing that my classmates will be entering practice as some of the most culturally responsive clinicians this field has to offer and that their clients and future generations will be able to see themselves in their providers.

My family always emphasized that education is an investment to give myself the best chance at life, so when deciding which program to attend, what better is there than the best? I could think of no better place to invest in myself than at USC Chan, which, in case you forgot, is the #1 occupational therapy program in the nation, and it shows. It’s pretty surreal to walk the halls of the Center for Health Professions (CHP) and know that it’s the birthplace of sensory integration, occupational science, Lifestyle Redesign, and so much more. Occupational therapy students all over the world are learning through textbooks written by the same professors you get to see face-to-face everyday. Since starting this program, it’s been clear that our faculty, staff, ambassadors, student leaders, and alumni are committed to fostering a space where the next generation of occupational therapists can both advocate for our profession while challenging it to change to meet client needs.

Undergraduate Degree vs. Graduate Degree
The pursuit of my undergraduate degree was filled with twists and turns regarding what career I wanted that degree to lead to — pediatrician, lawyer, software engineer, teacher, and at one point, even paleontologist! I am always amazed (and slightly jealous) when I hear Bachelor’s to Master’s students share why they chose to pursue OT when they were a senior in high school, because I didn’t know about OT until I was 20. While I don’t regret my journey because it’s what led me here today, I will say school was so much harder when I didn’t know what I was meant to do. It was also so much harder when I couldn’t imagine myself ever using organic chemistry or multivariable calculus in my career, yet still had to take those classes in order to get my degree. To this day, the fact that I know how to draw molecular structures using benzene rings or chair conformations has not served me. Not once!

Entering graduate school provided an opportunity for a clean slate. I was able to start over as a student at a new school but this time, as a student with a strong understanding of what I wanted while taking courses focused on what I was interested in. By acknowledging that all of the content I learn in the classroom could be applied to practice, being a student has become a more engaging and meaningful experience.

So, USC or UCLA?
This question is hard to answer because ultimately, I am so thankful to both. My experiences at UCLA led me here to USC, where I find myself growing professionally and personally everyday. Both allowed me to be close to home and near my family, who I wouldn’t be here without. At one, I was able to identify my weaknesses and at the other, take a strengths-based approach. This past weekend, I showed my friends Silvia and Vanessa around UCLA, where we sat next to Janss Steps and talked for hours.

This image consists of two separate images on either side. On the left side, my friend and fellow ambassador Silvia is just out of frame, sitting on the grassy knoll next to Janss Steps at UCLA. On the right side, there is a picture of three girls. From left to right is Silvia, myself, and my friend and classmate Vanessa.

Left: Sitting on the grassy knoll next to Janss Steps at UCLA. Pictured: Silvia Hernandez-Cuellar. Right: Me and my pals (and USC Chan classmates), Silvia and Vanessa ElShamy.

While walking the same paths I used to take to class, I remembered how I felt there when the thought of becoming an occupational therapist seemed like a distant, unattainable dream because I couldn’t see past who I was on paper — just another GPA, GRE score, and 1000 words. And becoming a USC Chan occupational therapist? Dream on.

Look at you now. Fight, fight, fight on. 💙🐻💛✌️❤️

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