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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Getting Involved


Dear MA1 Students, >

by Yna

Classes Diversity Getting Involved International Life Hacks

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How we were able to create an environment filled with nothing but love and support for each other with the challenges of distant learning is something that I don’t know but I sure am thankful of. It is truly amazing to think about it: how a lot of us haven’t even met each other in person — with some of us even having classes from across the globe — and yet, we are able to touch each other’s lives and share this journey together through shared Spotify playlists, after-class study sessions over Zoom, little fun facts about us that we share with each other, random comments over private chat, or even that simple “we got this, guys!” really goes a long way. Every once in a while, we find pleasant surprises from our little interactions with each other that gradually connect us altogether and make our experience nothing short of amazing. Today, here’s a surprise that would hopefully help you get through stressful times 😊

  • “Dear MA1 Students — I was asked to provide some words of motivation for you, but I would like to THANK YOU for motivating and inspiring me!  I’m so impressed by the perseverance, creativity, and determination that you have demonstrated as post-professional master’s students.  You have accomplished so much already, and I’m confident you will continue to succeed both in the master’s program and beyond.  Remember to take some time to celebrate your achievements and use that as motivation to continue the hard work on your journey.”
    Dr. Emily Ochi
  • “When I was a graduate student, I found this quote that spoke to me and where I was at, at that time… in the midst of late-night study sessions, in-between messy relationships, or wrestling with self-doubt. The quote said: “Today my anthro professor said something kind of beautiful:
    ‘You all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.’
    I share this quote to give you permission (if you needed it today) to remember to take care of yourself at this time. Of course, we have big dreams for you and I deeply believe in this cohort. Each one of you are incredibly hard workers and I always appreciate the perspectives you bring to class, the work you put into being present (on a screen none-the-less!), and the ways you share your understandings of the class content… But! I will not encourage you to compromise yourself, in order to “save the world”. Let’s get rid of that notion. You matter, and let’s start there. So please take time for yourself, especially in the middle of the semester like we find ourselves in now, and let us know if or when you need support or just extra kindness that day. You are doing an extraordinary thing, having the bravery to study in a new place and challenging yourself with multiple courses. That is more than enough, and I hope this message finds you on a day where you are believing that you are more than enough too. Again, we believe in you and are behind you today!”
    Dr. Kelcie Kadowaki
  • “HI MA1! I know graduate school can be overwhelming but remember, you know more than you think you know and you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment in time. Give yourselves a pat on the back for all the hard work you are putting into your growth. Enjoy the process. Lean on each other for support. Be confident. Take a break and of course, stay safe. 😊”
    — Macy Peralta
  • “Dear MA 1 students—It has been such an honor to be your instructor this semester. I look forward to our class because I can sense your intrinsic interest in the material and the ways that you support one another. I love hearing your perspectives as we read qualitative research together! Karin Saric, our librarian, was also very impressed by your thoughtful questions and skillful database searching. I have been deeply impressed with your resilience, your ability to not only adapt to the remote learning environment but also thrive in this environment. When you had challenges with google drive, you viewed it as an opportunity to learn and grow. 😊 I love that. I hope I can embody this same resilience and adaptability in my own life as well. Thank you for being a part of this class as we learn and grow together.”
    Dr. Tessa Milman
  • “Do not underestimate a deep breath of fresh air from a place of serenity like from under your favorite tree or feeling the sense of comfort from having a warm bowl of your favorite soup. These kinds of simple activities, when feeling under a lot pressure can allow space for our minds to take a break and maybe even a chance to reinstate a positive attitude. Remember, sí se puede and that your Chan faculty believe in you!”
    Dr. Celso Delgado
  • “Life often gets overwhelming with so many things to do and so many situations out of our control - especially this year! When I get overwhelmed, I sometimes find it helpful to pause, take some deep breaths, and think about a few things I am grateful for and try to think of a things that I can control, even if it’s something as small as what to eat for dinner or watch on Netflix. And then, when I feel overwhelmed again, even if it’s just 5 minutes later, I try not to just acknowledge that sometimes, situations really are overwhelming! (And, around this time in spring semester is usually one of those times, pandemic or not!). As your professors, we want you to know that we are so proud of each one of you for taking the big step of being in this program, engaging and showing up for your classes, and doing your best during this hard time so that you can ultimate be the best OTs and help others as much as possible. We hope you take time to take care of yourselves, and hang in there — it will get better. 😊”
    Dr. Sook-Lei Liew
  • “Sometimes, it helps to remember that in the end, we write our own stories.  We can be crushed by some unfairness or a failure, or consider these to be the building blocks for future success, as opportunities to overcome, grow, and inspire others.  And if it is our reactions to our circumstances that define us, then any circumstance met with optimism, gratitude, and humility becomes a success story.  We are living through a time when our lives and occupations are especially disrupted.  Maybe this trial by fire could be what forges you into a uniquely exceptional generation of OTs, and one that is looked up to well into the future!”
    Dr. Christopher Laine
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison; “The expert in anything was once a beginner.” — Helen Hayes; “You don’t always get what you wish for, you get what you work for.” — Anonymous; “Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.” — Anonymous
    Dr. Sharon Cermak
  • “You’ve all worked so hard to get to this point! Think of all the steps you took to get to this program, including for some of you moving to a whole new country! Keep up the great work and when the road ahead looks difficult, don’t forget to look back and marvel at the road traveled to get here!”
    — Ty Kim

While these quotes are directed to MA1 students, I’m sure anyone who find themselves in need of a little bit of motivation could use these too. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, Fight On!


The A-Z’s of USC OT: Part I >

by Bethany

Admissions Diversity Externships Getting Involved International

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As a Bachelor’s-to-Master’s student, I have been a part of the USC OT community for nearly five years. While learning to call this school home, I have realized that I am so lucky to be where I am. I’ve decided to compile an A-Z list of USC OT attributes that drew me to the program and that I learned as a part of the Trojan Family.

Area — USC is located in the wonderful California city of Los Angeles. Not only can you find a lot of OT volunteer opportunities nearby if you want to check out OT, but you can also drive to the beach, hike to the Hollywood sign, or check out amazing eateries.

Beyond classes — Outside of classes, there are a multitude of student organizations that allow students to encourage growth within the school and also growth in the community we serve.

Creativity — Creativity is so integral to occupational therapy that we have an entire Foundations course on creativity. Not only do we look at crafts occupations, but we use creativity to find new ways to approach and solve problems with engaging in these occupations.

Diversity — Our division places a high value on representation from people of all different backgrounds. Whether it be looking at ethic diversity in admissions, gender representation in OT, or even diversity in ages and stages of life, our students and faculty are open to difficult and perspective-building discussions.

Early Level II — Some OT schools have classwork first and both Level II Fieldwork placements after. But we have our first placement the summer in between academic years, getting to bring our fieldwork experience into our final year of classes to build on that new understanding.

Finances — Funding school can be a difficult discussion. The division offers their own scholarships and financial aid resources. In addition, USC has resources for their students and scholarships through the university itself and other organizations.

Global — Students can expand their global perspective by planning an externship abroad. Or we can increase our understanding of OT around the world through our very own Global Initiatives program!

Hands-on — Whether in labs or in fieldwork or even in practice activities in lectures, I have been grateful for learning-by-doing opportunities. Now in fieldwork, I can see how small activities that we may have done in class can be used with my clients.

Interdisciplinary — We study how OT fits with other health professions, such as PT and social work. Students can also take advantage of other incredible programs at USC by taking electives in other schools, such as the Davis School of Gerontology, the Marshall School of Business, or the Rossier School of Education.

Jobs — There are good job prospects in OT, as it is a quickly growing field. You can also pick up a student worker position while in school, like my job as a student ambassador.

Knowledgeable professors — Our professors are open to talking about coursework and the OT field outside the classroom. They work with us to make sure that we can get a full experience, working with different accommodations needed and through different life circumstances.

Lifestyle Redesign — Lifestyle Redesign was created at USC. Students can both learn about a unique framework and experience it, too. Our faculty practice offers services to students who can experience Lifestyle Redesign and its impact on their lives and occupations as students.

Mental health — This is an area of OT that is not often given enough space, but here, it has its own immersion. After this class, I was more open to the idea of mental health and how occupational therapists can impact mental health and therefore performance in occupations.

New perspectives — In our classes, we discuss how different people would approach different cases and how our various perspectives can be expanded through others’ experiences. We learn from each other to expand our own creative thinking.

Stay tuned for Part II. 😊


Why I Chose to Attend USC >

by Savi

Admissions Classes Fieldwork Getting Involved Living in LA

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During the past few weeks, a plethora of admitted and prospective students have reached out to get a student’s perspective on why we chose to complete our Master’s degree at USC. This simple question has made me reflect on all the wonderful reasons I have enjoyed my time in the program. I have decided to create a list of the reasons I chose to complete my Master’s degree at USC below. I hope this list helps admitted students reading with your decision during this overwhelming and exciting time! This list can also be a great resource for students deciding whether or not to apply to this program in the coming years.

  1. The USC community and connections: Going to USC immediately connects you to a very large group of OTs around the world. With around 130 OT students graduating from the Master’s program each year, the quantity of USC OT alumni is exuberant. This allows current USC students the opportunity to have resources and connections both within and outside the division. Whether you are looking to find a job after graduating or get advice about your career path, you have an extremely high chance of finding USC alumni in your field of choice. This can be really helpful since OTs can work in such a wide range of practice settings and it can get tricky deciding what path may be right for you. During your various fieldwork placements, you are also bound to run into or be mentored by USC alumni and it is great to make those connections with other trojans who understand the curriculum, program structure, etc.
  2. The faculty and resources: As a student, you get the opportunity to learn from some of the most amazing and world-renowned OTs. All of the faculty members have dedicated their lives to OT through clinical work, teaching, and research. These clinicians, researchers, and educators all have an open door policy and capitalize on any opportunity to chat with and get to know students. You can go to them for casual conversation, assistance with schoolwork, guidance in life and your career, and more. This team, along with all of the outstanding cutting-edge research being conducted within our division, gives us the unique opportunity to be some of the first to learn about the most up-and-coming techniques and discoveries. This environment encourages every student to challenge themselves, work hard, and become a leader in the OT field.
  3. The students: As mentioned before, USC admits around 130 students into their Master’s program. This larger class size has given me the opportunity to meet a plethora of different learners and future practitioners. After spending the first summer semester learning from all of these different perspectives in a larger class setting, everyone is split up into three different cohorts of about 40-50 students. The cohorts are small so you get to know everyone really well, but you also get the chance to socialize with the larger group of around 130 students outside of the classroom to learn about their experience in different practice immersions before you take them. The cohorts are further split into 2 groups to make lectures and labs even smaller. The two groups will switch off the order in which they attend lectures and labs, which allows for more individualized attention from the professors during class.
  4. Hands-on work: USC integrates fieldwork into each semester. As an extremely hands-on learner, I was really excited to discover that USC allows students to work at a fieldwork I site once a week during each practice immersion semester. We, therefore, get the chance to go into class three times a week and then apply what we learn in real-time with clients. We can come back each week and debrief with each other and our professors. By doing so, I didn’t feel like I was just a student sitting in class trying to absorb information. I really got the chance to take that knowledge and apply it every week. On top of that, we also are provided with the typical fieldwork II experience, in which we work as full-time OTs for 12-weeks during each summer in a setting of your choice. We have connections with over 950 fieldwork sites across the globe, so the opportunities to work in any field of your choice before graduating are endless. Students also have access to Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital Occupational Therapy and the Faculty Practice, which is the birthplace of Lifestyle Redesign®. Students, therefore, have the opportunity to be mentored in a number of existing and developing practice areas at the outstanding USC hospitals and at the Faculty Practice in order to gain clinical experiences during their program of study.
  5. Los Angeles: Los Angeles is a city with endless OT opportunities. Whatever you may be passionate about in the OT realm…you can find it in LA. Outside of OT opportunities, LA is an amazing place to live. Anything you want to do, see, or eat is in this city. You can go hiking in the morning, sit on the beach in the afternoon, and grab a bite to eat in downtown all in one day! Comedy shows, outdoor adventures, etc…It is ALL here.

10 Things I Like About Being a Student Ambassador >

by Yna

Getting Involved International

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We recently conducted an information session about the student ambassador position, which made me look back and reflect upon my experience thus far as a student ambassador—and I came up with a list of 10 things that I like about being one!

  1. Forming connections with a lot of people — For the most part, being a student ambassador is really about connecting with different people: from prospective students, current students, alumni, clinicians, faculty, and staff. Whether it is to answer a prospective student’s question during an info session/career fair, or to gather my fellow classmates’ opinions, or to ask for a clinician’s expert advice, every interaction is unique and helps me broaden my perspective about different matters.
  2. Being of help to prospective students — Not too long ago, I was also in the position of being an applicant which I know could feel overwhelming, especially if you’re coming from a different country like myself. I remember having feelings of anxiety because the whole application process was pretty novel to me, not to mention a whole lot other things to take into consideration such as housing, scholarships, and financial aid. Being a student ambassador allows me to be of assistance to students who find themselves in this position by sharing my experiences—tips on what I’ve found helpful, what not to do, who to reach out to, and other helpful resources I can provide them.
  3. Having lots of opportunity to be creative — I work closely with Lamoni in managing USC Chan’s pages; and having to create content for social media indeed opens up lots of opportunities to bring creative ideas to the table. This goes starting from planning out what content to publish, to designing eye-catching posts, to crafting interesting captions; and in general just always being open and thinking about new ideas.
  4. Sharing thoughts and experiences (mine and my fellow students’) — Writing blogs, for me, has been a time to sit down, pause, and think: about interesting things that have happened, about what kind of information students need at this time, or about how can I represent students in the division and share their experiences as well. It is particularly enjoyable for me whenever I get to work on projects together with my classmates in the program such as when I created a fun video about winter break occupations, because I feel like I was able to take a peek at what everyone’s been up to while we weren’t together in class, which I get to share with other readers too.
  5. Working with other amazing student ambassadors — I have had so much to learn from being around the other 6 talented student ambassadors who each possesses unique skill sets. Although we each have our own ambassador duties, a lot of the tasks inevitably overlap with each other, which allows us to partner with one another and share responsibilities. I consider myself lucky to have found an amazing support system within the recruitment team who are all very supportive and willing to help each other out.
  6. Enhancing my skills and discovering new ones — Being a student ambassador has given me so much opportunities to create and compile videos which greatly contributed to the improvement of my skills. Before coming to USC, I decided to learn how to edit videos just for fun and started creating short travel vlogs. I’m glad to have been able to utilize this skill, this time for various events around the division. I mean, I still have so much to learn and improve on but I’m definitely better than when I first started! =)) Moreover, since a lot of the ambassador work involves getting in touch with different people, this has helped me, over time, be more comfortable communicating with other people whether personally or through other virtual platforms. Finally, I’ve also learned to do new things such as utilizing and managing different platforms to organize online meetings for info sessions, create RSVP forms, and send out post-event surveys through the help of other student ambassadors who are well-versed when it comes to these matters.
  7. Challenging my comfort zone — One of my major inhibitions when I was just about to apply for the student ambassador position was that public speaking is not really my strong suit. While up to this date it still isn’t, I have managed to organize and host a couple of international info sessions together with a few guest panelists from different countries. This part of the job is probably what really scared me the most, but I’m glad that I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone, which I believe is a very important first step!
  8. Improving my time management skills — Given that enrollment in the MA program is full-time, having to work part-time really requires a great deal of time management skills for you to be able to achieve a balance not just between work and school but also leisure! I have learned strategies to spend my time wisely and be more organized in scheduling my work and school tasks. More importantly, I have also learned to ask for help from my team whenever the load gets too much to handle—one thing that our supervisor Kim always reminds us to do, as our well-being should always come first.
  9. Supporting the admissions team — A few student ambassadors including myself have taken part in certain steps of the admission process. During this time, we have worked closely with Dr. Anvarizadeh, our director of admissions, as well as the whole admissions team, wherein I have witnessed the hard work that they all do to support and advocate for the community. It inspired me to be the change I want to see, as Dr. Anvarizadeh has always reminded us.
  10. Being able to attend events — One of the fun parts of being a student ambassador is getting to be part of various events in the division! For example, I have provided support for Bianca, our special events program coordinator, in hosting the virtual holiday party for the Chan division last year. I enjoyed facilitating games for the Chan faculty members and staff and seeing them having a fun time while in their holiday outfits.

To wrap everything up, being a student ambassador overall enriches my USC student life experience. It is a great opportunity that I am glad to have taken, albeit my hesitations as a new and international student coming to LA.

For those of you who might be interested to apply as a student ambassador, you can send an email to my supervisor Kim Kho at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), the deadline to apply is on February 19th at 3:00pm. You can also check out Liz’s blog to know even more about the work as a student ambassador. As always, feel free reach out to me and I will be happy to answer any further questions! 😀


Humans of USC Chan Volume 2 >

by Calvin

Diversity Getting Involved Videos What are OS/OT?

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Did you know that you can major in occupational therapy as an undergraduate student at USC? The Chan Division currently offers an accelerated program, known as the Bachelor’s to Master’s Program, where undergraduate students can earn their master’s degree in occupational therapy with just one additional year. I believe that the BS-MA students have very unique experiences to share, especially as individuals who committed to the profession so early on.

So, I invited some Bachelor’s to Master’s students to come and talk about how they discovered occupational therapy! On top of that, we discussed topics related to their favorite experiences, extracurricular involvement, differences being in an accelerated program at USC, and advice for students who might be interested in the program! If you watch it through YouTube, the video is time-stamped with each topic in case you ever want to go back to a specific conversation.

I hope you find this video helpful and that these diverse perspectives give you more insight into what student life is like in the Bachelor’s to Master’s program! Welcome to the Humans of USC Chan!

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