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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Getting Involved

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Igniting Passion, Building Bridges: AOTA Orlando Chronicles! PP-MA & First-year E-OTD Perspectives ⟩
April 12, 2024, by Global Initiatives Team

Getting Involved

By: Kathleen Jayne (PP-MA ’24), Wai Nga Vera Kwok (PP-MA ’24), Sanskruti Sonawane (PP-MA ’24), & Lydia Hong (E-OTD ’26)

Sanskruti: The AOTA conference was a dynamic hub of knowledge seekers, and I was thrilled to be there with my classmates Kath and Vera. We dove into sessions, starting with “Evidence-based strategies to assess and treat neuro-vision deficits in brain injury” by Dr. Sanchala Sen. This session broadened my understanding of the various other fields in OT. Post-session, I had a very insightful and wholesome conversation with Dr. Sen; it instilled in me a sense of pride and motivation after attending a wonderful lecture of a fellow Indian who has made a noteworthy contribution to the field of OT. Another highlight was the session on “Lymphedema and chronic edema in an inpatient acute care program” by Sarah Colwell and Amy Sommerville. Their engaging presentation sparked my interest in working with the lymphedema population. The expo hall was a bustling space where we explored different stalls and had a refreshing lunch. Later, I attended “Learning to administer the FUEL (Functional Upper Extremity Levels)” by Dr. Daniel Geller, an assistant professor at Columbia University. While this lecture explained the scale of FUEL, it also gave me a sense of understanding of what we do and why we do it.

Day two brought more enriching sessions, including “OT Intervention for Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction” and a fascinating lecture on blending technology and music for students with special needs, presented by Mary Hager. As someone involved in the Lifestyle Redesign Graduate Certificate program, “Promoting Sleep and Rest to Improve Outcomes & Quality of Life for Older Adults in Long Term Care” provided valuable insights and techniques for my practice. Learning about sleep pattern changes, conducting various sleep screens and assessments, and discovering new techniques for promoting sleep and rest will greatly enhance my ability to improve outcomes and quality of life for older adults.

Kath: AOTA Inspire offered a range of topics, but as I envision myself working in pediatric care, I focused on sessions related to this setting. It was tough deciding which ones to attend because they all seemed valuable. Two sessions stood out for me: Designing sensory-informed trauma responsive interventions in pediatric settings and Combining SI with other approaches like Executive Function, NDT and behavioral approach. Having previously worked in a US schools setting, I gained insights into group homes and foster care, which are not common in the Philippines, my home country. These sessions provided me with a deeper understanding of how to support my future clients effectively. The SI session was particularly engaging as well as it explored combining sensory integration with different therapeutic approaches. Overall, the conference was a fantastic learning experience, and I can’t wait to apply these insights in my practice.

Vera: Scrolling through the list of sessions during the AOTA conference, I had a hard time deciding which ones to attend as so many of them are useful and interesting. I ended up choosing topics that are more related to my current clinical placement at an outpatient pediatric clinic where I see children with sensory processing issues and traumatic past experiences. I attended some courses related to pediatric mental health and trauma-informed care. One of them was a course on sensory-informed, trauma-responsive tiered support. The speaker adopted the tiered approach and introduced interventions for children who experienced childhood trauma. It was eye-opening as it really looked into the child’s needs from a whole-person perspective. They suggested that OTs should advocate for our clients in the school system, but not only provide individual treatments. The environment that we create for the children should be inclusive so that every child should feel safe, and the children with special needs should be given opportunities to adapt according to their own needs. It provided me with a new perspective when looking at an inclusive environment for children with special needs. After attending the sessions of day 2, we went to the COTAD Happy Hour, where we met Dr. Janis Yue. We had an inspiring and fruitful discussion with her, especially about the topic of trauma-informed care, which is her specialty. As a student, seeing a young, outstanding scholar sharing her passion and specialty is so empowering. I am looking forward to connecting with her and learning more about her expertise! During the poster sessions, I enjoyed a presentation by Ying-Chia Kao, from Kaohsiung Medical University, on the topic of changes in sensory processing ability in adults post-COVID. It is interesting seeing international perspectives in the conference, as it encourages international collaboration in our profession!

Kath, Sanskruti, and Vera during the Trojan Family Reception check-in

Kath, Sanskruti, and Vera during the Trojan Family Reception check-in

We also volunteered with check-in during the Trojan Family Reception. This event provided us with the opportunity to connect and network not only with esteemed USC alumni who are experts in their field and fellow students from other cohorts but also with potential future employers post-graduation. It was fantastic witnessing everyone enjoying themselves that evening with an abundance of food, drinks, and dancing!

Lunch with Dr. Danny Park!

Lunch with Dr. Danny Park!

Having a blast at Disney World’s Epcot

Having a blast at Disney World’s Epcot

Wrapping up the conference, we added a touch of magic with a visit to Disney World’s Epcot, enjoying its culinary delights, thrilling rides, cultural themes, and breathtaking fireworks. The AOTA conference was not just a professional journey but a personal one filled with learning, connections, and unforgettable experiences. And the best thing is that we get to experience attending the conference for the first time with friends! While this was our first time attending the AOTA conference, it certainly won’t be our last. We’re excited for the next conference and we’re hoping that more of our friends will be able to attend.

At the AOTA sign with 2nd-year E-OTD students, Stacey, Sharon, & Jasmine

At the AOTA sign with 2nd-year E-OTD students, Stacey, Sharon, & Jasmine

Lydia: As a first-year student, I was a bit nervous about attending my first conference, but excitement quickly replaced my nerves. Our faculty and peers truly made my experience by inviting me to Epcot and showing me the conference ropes. Even in Florida, the Trojan family was everywhere, from running sessions, presenting posters, and breaking it down on the reception dance floor. My favorite sessions were Tech Lab 201: Use of Virtual Reality as a Clinical Tool for Anxiety in Students and Workshop 306: Mental Health Promotion in the School Setting: OT’s Distinct Value. I feel so lucky to enter the OT landscape as it evolves to enrich the discussion and research of mental health. My biggest takeaway was that the OT world is vast, and every practitioner’s unique interests drive our field. My heaviest takeaway was my check-on luggage full of goodies from the expo halls. As I left Orlando, I felt thrilled by the endless opportunities in our field. I can’t wait to apply the knowledge and skills I gained from AOTA to my classes and future practice. Fight on!

Having fun at Epcot with 2nd-year E-OTD student, Javi

Having fun at Epcot with 2nd-year E-OTD student, Javi


Trojan Spirit ⟩
December 3, 2023, by Samantha

Community Getting Involved School/Life Balance Videos

Hello! My name is Samantha Osuna. I’m in my second year of the Entry-Level OTD program & fifth at USC as a student in the Accelerated Bachelor’s to Doctorate program. As my fifth football season as a Trojan was coming to an end, I spent some time reflecting on the beauty of college football & the Trojan spirit that makes USC football games unique & exhilarating. I realized that this Trojan spirit–which represents the resilience, determination, & indomitable will of USC students on the field & in the classroom–is something I’ve cultivated over the last four & a half years or so. I know that not everyone in the Chan Division has had the same access that I have had and that American football may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I do believe that USC game day has something to offer everyone, from tailgating to watching the band. It is the ultimate representation of Trojan spirit & the perfect way to share about it with others through a vlog! The 2023 football season may be over, but it’s never too late to embrace the Trojan spirit &, as always, Fight On!

The Pre-OT Club Gets Crafty ⟩
April 3, 2023, by The Pre-OT Club

Community Getting Involved School/Life Balance What are OS/OT?

Hello world!

Taylor Kamemoto

Taylor Kamemoto

My name is Taylor Kamemoto. I am a current pre-OT student and a senior at USC majoring in Psychology and the Health & Human Sciences. I also have minors in Occupational Science (a.k.a. best minor ever), and Musical Studies in Flute Performance! I am super excited to introduce the Pre-OT Club’s blog!

If you’re an undergrad interested in Occupational Therapy, you should definitely check out the Pre-Occupational Therapy Club! We are a club focused on spreading knowledge and awareness about the profession of Occupational Therapy here on the USC campus and even beyond our community walls. We have a wide range of club meeting topics, including inviting clinician guest speakers, hosting graduate student panels, social bonding events like game nights, philanthropy events such as gardening and food drives, and engaging in shared occupations together. These events allow club members to connect and find a sense of community with other Pre-OT students while enhancing our knowledge about the profession of OT. I have been involved since my freshman year (yes, we even had Zoom meetings during COVID) and I now serve as the current president.

So far, my favorite event this semester has been Craft Night! We worked directly with our club’s faculty advisor, Dr. Amber Bennett, who helped us reserve a space in the Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign®. Dr. Bennett provided us with craft supplies such as wooden items to paint, ceramic piggy banks, scrapbook paper, and magazines. We had no guidelines and let our creative juices flow! We each created something unique. I used scrapbook paper to collage a picture frame and a clipboard. After an hour of crafting, we shared our projects with each other, and I was very impressed with what everyone created! I saw a box with a collage lid reading “Fight On,” a wooden “Statue of Liberty,” and fun collages. Check out our crafts below!

Pre-OT Craft Night

Selecting our craft materials before beginning our creative projects!

Pre-OT Craft Night

Working on our projects

Pre-OT Craft Night

The final products!

Email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to be added to our newsletter and get more information about our club! You can also follow us on Instagram at @uscpreotclub. We are always looking for more undergraduate students interested in Occupational Therapy and anyone who appreciates the nature of occupations and meaningful activities. Fight on, and welcome to our blog!

16 Hour Flight to Hang Out With my Occupational Therapy Pen Pal ⟩
January 4, 2023, by Global Initiatives Team

Getting Involved International

By Jared Bague (he/him), OTD ’25
Edited by Christelli Carmona, Entry-Level Professional Master’s student

Jared Bague

Jared Bague

There is a certain charm and chaos that comes with the final days of the year — the simple change of a single digit after 365 days sends people into a frenzy of ending the calendar year living life to its fullest. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I too subscribed to this “final frenzy” by meeting up with my pen pal . . . that lives on the other side of the world.

In October of 2022, Global Initiatives announced that they were organizing a “Global Pen Pal Program” where they connected USC Chan students with other OT students from around the world. With OT schools spanning South Korea, Palestine, Poland, and more, the Global Initiatives team matched Chan students to OT schools abroad according to their interests found in their application. For me personally, I’ve always felt a deep calling to be a bridge for the dissemination of knowledge in a place where my roots run deep — the Philippines.

A few days after I submitted my application, I was overjoyed to see that I was paired with the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. Even more so, I was excited to see that my roommate, Joseph Quiambao, was also paired with the same school. After we shared a few embarrassing cheers of excitement in our living room, I received my first email from my pen pal, Jose Maria Miguel Burgos (Miggy for short). We immediately began emailing back and forth introducing ourselves, which eventually evolved into direct messaging each other on Instagram, which eventually evolved into Zoom calls. Despite the 16-hour time difference, Miggy and I’s friendship grew quickly over the span of 2.5 months.

I gifted Miggy with a USC Chan shirt as a Christmas/New Year's gift

I gifted Miggy with a USC Chan shirt as a Christmas/New Year’s gift.

Prior to applying for the Global Pen Pals program, I was planning on taking my first international solo trip to spend New Year with my grandma in Sison, Philippines. In full honesty, the idea of navigating the stresses of international travel by myself was deterring me from following through with my plans. But after thinking about the possibility of having a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet up with my pen pal, I knew I had to book the 15-hour flight. I pitched the idea to Miggy and Ray Torres (my roommate’s pen pal who I also got to know), and they were on board. After a few weeks of planning, we all settled on meeting up on December 28th.

It was only when I was surrounded by hundreds of balikbayan boxes (gifts that overseas Filipino families send home to the Philippines) at LAX that I realized how crazy of a plan this was. I began thinking to myself, “Jared, you just spontaneously booked a solo flight overseas to meet up with someone you had only seen the upper half of on Zoom.” But as the great philosopher, Drake, once said, “. . . you already know though. You only live once, that’s the motto.” With that song on repeat in my head for the entire duration of the flight, I finally touched down at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on December 27th.

At 7:00 am on December 28th, Miggy and his childhood friend, Raffy, picked me up from my hotel in Bonifacio Global City. We went on a short road trip to Tagaytay where they took me to their favorite food spot, and then we headed back towards Makati where we grabbed coffee, went sightseeing, and shopping.

Miggy experienced my first taste of 'sinigang na baboy' and 'puto bong bong,' which are Filipino dishes

Miggy experienced my first taste of “sinigang na baboy” and “puto bong bong,” which are Filipino dishes.

Our first stop in Tagaytay was this lookout point. Tagaytay is located an hour and a half outside of Metro Manila

Our first stop in Tagaytay was this lookout point. Tagaytay is located an hour and a half outside of Metro Manila.

Apart from the amazing views, food, and shopping malls, the part that I enjoyed most was the conversations we had in our downtime. I got to learn a lot about Miggy — he is a big fan of Florence Clark and Erna Blanche, and he eventually wants to work in the mental health setting as a life coach, he and Ray Torres put on “Camp Kabahagi” which aims to enable children with disabilities through play, and so much more. While talking about our passion for OT, I was able to see how different yet similar the profession looks in our own respective experiences as OT students in different countries. We shared moments where we talked about Sensory Processing, therapeutic use of self, dysphasia, and other OT-related topics that sparked our interests. Overall, it was inspiring to witness OT students outside the United States sharing the same desire to make a difference in the world, one intervention at a time.

Going to Tagaytay was a special experience because Miggy and Raffy expressed how COVID has restricted them from leaving their houses too often

Going to Tagaytay was a special experience because Miggy and Raffy expressed how COVID has restricted them from leaving their houses too often.

We ate at 'Balay Dako' in Tagaytay. The restaurant had a beautiful view of Taal Lake in Batangas!

We ate at “Balay Dako” in Tagaytay. The restaurant had a beautiful view of Taal Lake in Batangas!

The “final frenzy” that I experienced led to me gaining a deeper understanding of the global community that we, as future OTs, are a part of. It is easy to forget that there are OTs around the globe that share the same hopes and dreams that we do — I find it quite beautiful. Once we set sail in our curiosity to learn more about OT beyond the borders of our own country, we can experience an exchange of knowledge that propels the profession forward. This is in hopes that OTs around the globe can provide the best quality care that we can as future practitioners.

In regards to my pen pal, Miggy, I know this isn’t the last time I will see him. His dream is to eventually attend USC Chan to pursue his PhD but until then, I’ll make sure to make a stop in Makati whenever I find myself in the Philippines again.


Latinx Heritage Month Celebration ⟩
November 29, 2022, by Tania

Community Diversity First-Gen Getting Involved

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:

  1. Attend our events
  2. Promote our events
  3. Advocate for funding for student orgs
  4. Ask us what we need

Special thanks to Dr. Celso Delgado Jr. and Dr. Danny Park for their collaboration and support!

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