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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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Student Blog
Getting Involved

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Conference and pageant ⟩
May 1, 2013, by Alisa

Classes Community Getting Involved School/Life Balance

Yes, I made it to my last class as a Master’s student! In Lifestyle Redesign class today, I facilitated my healthy eating group on the topic of superfoods. I hope to work in health and wellness in the future, perhaps owning my own business and implementing Lifestyle Redesign concepts into my practice. I learned a lot from the group members and added to my OT toolbox. I few more hurdles to jump before I graduate. I can’t believe it.

I’ve never felt more tired and sleep deprived until this week. Grad school isn’t easy, but it’s manageable. This past weekend I attended the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in San Diego. This was my second conference I attended. One perk about attending USC OT Program is that the division sponsors a number of students to attend these conferences, and I was fortunate enough to be one of the students chosen to attend! I realize how small and big the OT community is. I ran into my past supervisor and met my future supervisors there. I also ran into a student from Samuel Merritt University who presented a poster on oncology there as well. I remember hanging out with her last year at the conference in Indianapolis. I also saw a student from CAL State Domiguez Hills who did fieldwork at the same place as me last summer. That’s not it. I also ran into a prospective OT student whom I had given a tour to earlier in the semester. The conference is open to everyone!

I also met new people as well . . . in the jacuzzi. I met three wonderful USC PhD graduates, who now hold faculty positions at universities across the US. One of them in particular, Dr. Pollie Price from Utah, co-authored one of my favorite articles that I’ve read! I remember reading the article Mother Becoming: Learning to Read Mikala’s Signs by Pollie Price and Stephanie Miner in my clinical reasoning class last year and how I really enjoyed it. A lot of the articles and books that we read in class also come from our very own USC faculty, so I feel that I’m very fortunate to have picked the best school to go to.

I was sad that I had to miss the Alumni Reception at the Conference because I had to come back early and prepare for Miss Thai New Year Pageant. I volunteered to help out the temple by participating in the pageant. This was my second pageant (the first one I had done last year just for the heck of it). I ended up helping the temple raise close to $1,000 by selling balloons at the event. The total amount raised by all of the participants were close to $2,000. It was amazing to know that there was so much support and joy at the event. There was also a talent show portion that I was very surprised to have gotten second place for singing Tian Mi Mi, a classic Chinese song. The last portion of the pageant was to dress in a Thai traditional dress and pose. How hard could that be right? It was actually a pain to figure out how to best wear the traditional dress, but without the support from family, friends and strangers, I wouldn’t have survived the event. I ended up getting dehydration and a headache that lasted two days afterwards, but to know that I’ve helped a great cause in raising money for the temple, I am grateful.

Alisa in traditional Thai dress


Final Post! ⟩
April 29, 2013, by Amber

Beginnings and Endings Getting Involved School/Life Balance

After an action-packed year serving as a student ambassador for this wonderful Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, I am excited to say that today is my last day! I came into the office this morning happily exhausted from spending the past five days in San Diego at the AOTA Annual Conference. Over 200 individuals from USC OT traveled to the conference to learn, network, and celebrate our wonderful profession. It was an impressive turnout, contributing to this being the 2nd largest AOTA conference in history! There was so much to see and do that at many times it felt overwhelming. The sheer number of educational sessions provided something for everyone in every practice area. The networking opportunities were fantastic, and the addresses were inspiring. The keynote speaker this year was Aaron Ralston, the adventurer who amputated his own arm to free himself from entrapment in a remote canyon in Utah. He was introduced by his OT, who spoke about her treatment of this unique case. When Mr. Ralston came to the stage, he said that he truly loved occupational therapy and unveiled a USC OT pin which he wore throughout his speech! It was very special to be present for our own Dr. Florence Clark’s farewell address as AOTA President, and to feel the pride of hundreds of Trojans at the USC Alumni Party.

Although I am continuing on at USC to pursue a doctoral degree, I still feel that this moment is an enormous milestone. This is my last week of classes, and I have a major project due in each one. Finishing up these tasks will keep me very busy this week. Then, this weekend I will immerse myself fully in studying for our comprehensive exam, which covers the foundational coursework from the entire program. After Monday’s comprehensive exam, I will gear up for my last final examination on Thursday and our Division’s end of the year celebration on Friday. I have spearheaded the planning of this celebration, which will take place on a privately chartered boat in Long Beach. After the boat celebration, I will spend a long weekend away in beautiful Ojai with special friends I have made in the program that are moving away right after graduation. I will return from Ojai just in time for my family to arrive from Northern California. I graduate with my wonderful class on Friday, May 17th, and start fieldwork the following Monday.

It has been wonderful holding this position over the past year, and I feel grateful for all the wonderful people I have met and the opportunities I have been given. To everyone that has read this blog, thank you for your support!

Your student ambassador Amber signing off!

Amber with the student ambassadors


Am I ready? ⟩
April 24, 2013, by Kendra

Getting Involved Living in LA

Last week while busily adding my part to crazy long study guide for our comprehensive exam in two weeks, it dawned on me: I’m graduating from OT school next month.

After having to take a series of deep breaths to get my heart rate back to normal I asked myself, am I ready to be an Occupational Therapist?

Good thing I was working the OT booth at the LA Times Festival of Books the next day or I may have spent my weekend submerged in graduation themed anxiety. At the booth we had several different stations: Sensory Integration, Lifestyle Redesign, Low Vision, and Stress Management. Each of us was so busy unpacking supplies, it felt it was a matter of minutes before people started arriving asking us questions about stress, relaxation, anxiety, depression, the list goes on and on.

Here I surprised myself again, I was able to answer their questions! Not just that but I felt confident in what I was saying, that what I was telling them was based on research and facts and information I’d learned in OT school.

Kendra at the LA Festival of Books

Suffice to say, I slept easier that night with the faith in myself that not only am I ready to graduate with my Master’s in Occupational Therapy, but that I am well informed and prepared to be an effective, insightful therapist.


Swim With Mike ⟩
April 23, 2013, by Paula

Community Getting Involved

Earlier in the month, I joined a group of fellow OT students in participating in Swim With Mike (SWM), an annual swim-a-thon held on the USC campus to raise funds for the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund. SWM began in 1981 at USC to raise funds for an adequately equipped van for Mike Nyeholt, a three-time All-American swimmer who was paralyzed from a motorcycle accident he had survived earlier in the year. Greatly moved by the generosity and enthusiastic support of his teammates and friends, Mike used the excess funds to create the scholarship fund at USC and it has now grown to support students across the nation. I encourage you to read more about the history of this great event.

Montage of relay swim

Growing up as a swimmer, I have had ample opportunity to participate in swim-a-thons but I have never experienced one quite like SWM. Because this was the 33rd year that the event was held at USC, there was a certain challenge suggested among the OT and PT students and faculty to form relay teams and have a representative swim for 33 consecutive hours. The turnout for our group was great, with a consistent flow of OT students, friends and supporters. We also had a lane designated right next to our PT friends so that made for good company in the odd hours of the evening/morning. I swam from 4AM-6AM and was so taken by the number of swimmers in the water, and happy to be there! There was a little boy, maybe 10 years old, who was so excited to jump in and start a swim set — it was only 4:30AM! The rest of the participants and volunteers started trickling in to set up for opening ceremonies and welcomes (for the people who swam at normal hours) ;] and it was so exciting to see how involved and enthusiastic everyone was for the event. The entire USC swim team was there right as I left, ready for their SWM practice. The sense of community was so strong throughout the event and I feel that this event is something which I will remain close to in my years as Trojan alum. Way to represent OT, everyone!

Swim with Mike at USC pool


CicLAvia ⟩
April 23, 2013, by Alisa

Getting Involved Living in LA

It’s my first time participating in CicLAvia! On Sunday my friend and I biked from USC to Venice Beach. The city blocked off the roads, so I didn’t have to worry that a car was going to hit me. In total I rode 22 miles on a mountain bike. I couldn’t even run a mile. I couldn’t believe myself, and I was more impressed that my bike made it. We were among 150,000+ people who participated in this event. I remember growing up as a child, I was the first among my siblings to ride a bike (and hit the trash can because I didn’t learn how to apply my breaks), but I remember loving the feeling of the breeze hitting my face, especially at night. My friend graciously carried her pump and put airs on my tires, and it worked miracles on my bike. I’m so glad I did it. It’s something I never thought I could do since I haven’t biked in a very long time. It’s one thing off my bucket list. The next CicLAvia event is on June 23, 2013. I might be hitting the roads near you! Watch out!

CicLAvia riders in Venice

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