From Manila to Los Angeles and Beyond! >
October 15, 2021
When I was younger, I always dreamt of experiencing life beyond the borders of my country, the Philippines. This isn’t because I hate my country, but it is because I always felt like I knew there was more I have yet to explore and learn from around the world. And frankly, when I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy, I didn’t think I could.
So, before I became a student at USC Chan, I have been already a pediatric occupational therapist for almost 2 years. But because of the lockdown situation from COVID-19 in Manila, I was forced to be in my own thoughts: to reflect and contemplate about my life beyond the four walls of my bedroom. After some time, and most importantly with the help and support of my family and friends, I realized that USC Chan was my next big step. And the rest was history!
I have always had experience traveling with either my friends or family, but this was my first time traveling to a very long distance all by myself. After a couple of months of preparation and goodbyes, I boarded the plane from Manila and moved to Los Angeles. It is from that moment I knew that my life will be much different from what it was.
If there’s anything anyone needs to know when they arrive in a new, foreign environment, it is to find people you can connect with. I took every opportunity I can get to meet new people and to dig my feet deep in Los Angeles. I was able to meet a couple of familiar faces from the Philippines, which is amazing, and I was fortunate to be in such a diverse class at PP-MA (I made a blog about them last time here).
I consider myself extremely lucky to be in USC because I get to do what I have always been looking for. It is crazy to think that a couple of months back I was stuck in my bedroom back in Manila, and now I am (safely, of course) exploring life in LA and taking that chance to experience life that is beyond the boundaries of the Philippines. And while I’m still in the thick of it all, I am most certainly relishing every single moment I can get.
My Class is a Nexus Point >
September 29, 2021
A nexus is a connection of multiple links into a common point or place. In the Post-Professional Master’s program, it’s just that.
If you read about my previous blog post (OT was not my first choice … but I have no regrets), I mentioned that time and destiny have their unique way of bringing people together. The program I’m in is no exception to this. For the most part, it’s almost serendipitous. Can you imagine that more than 30 unique individuals, having each their own personal experiences and life stories across the globe, flew into Los Angeles to study OT? On top of that, we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic!! It sounds so crazy and thrilling to me that I have classmates from India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Colombia, the Middle East, and of course my home country the Philippines. Being at class in person, it’s essentially a melting pot of unique stories and personalities: flavors from all around the world! It still baffles me that despite all the circumstances we were all dealing with individually, life just situates us to be together in a class to learn and grow from each other.
You see, experiencing LA is one amazing thing. But can you imagine exploring it with a class that’s as diverse as this? Check out this hike we did at the Eaton Canyon we did on our second week of class! Some say the trail is pretty basic, but it’s much less about the hike but more about the company you’re with. And if you’re hiking with this bunch, you will always run out of breath from having endless, great conversations (oh, and from hiking too of course).
On top of that, Dr. Danny Park along with the Global Initiatives team has been very hands-on in support of International Students at Chan, like us in our class. We had events like social mixers and support groups to emphasize togetherness in a culturally diverse environment. A chance to meet and learn from somebody else’s stories and experiences are really irreplaceable, and they are doing an amazing job at that. Fun fact: Did you know that Mooncakes symbolize togetherness and prosperity? Look at some of my classmates celebrating the Mid-Autumn (Mooncake) Festival at the CHP Patio!
In my classes so far, I have learned the importance of togetherness and community as a crucial part of a person’s optimal occupational performance. My class is the epitome of that. I thought that coming into a class full of foreign students would isolate me, but I was wrong. It is in our different backgrounds and experience that actually makes us even more together! I found an even bigger, cohesive community that is PP-MA. A home outside of home, as you may say.
So to my classmates at PP-MA, you’re all awesome. I am so honored and thrilled to be part of this class as if I haven’t made that clear in this blog post. We all come from different parts of the world, but USC Chan was the nexus point that linked us all together. How cool is that?? I am looking forward to learning more from each of you and to taking even more unforgettable adventures and experiences together this school year. Fight On!
OT was not my first choice … but I have no regrets >
August 29, 2021
Occupational therapy wasn’t my first choice. There. I said it. But hear me out:
Medicine was the only field of choice if you want to help people. At least, that’s what I was told growing up in the Philippines. I have plenty of family members who are successful physicians and well-known professionals in the field of health sciences, but occupational therapy was never part of that extensive list. I always knew that helping people was the impact I wanted to make in this world, and the only option at the time was to pursue medicine. But time and destiny have other plans.
It wasn’t until I was applying for university where I first heard about occupational therapy. It was a week before the deadline for applications, and I still haven’t decided on a program to apply to. I was rapidly going back and forth on the list of programs and stumbled on “BS in Occupational Therapy”. I can’t believe I overlooked this! Quickly, I did a Google search on the program and rapidly grew interested in OT. And the rest was history! I sent my application and went on to my journey to become an OT.
My journey to becoming an OT was not cookie-cutter. Saying it was challenging was an understatement. There were many set goals and aspirations that ended up being broken. Schedules and timelines were being shaken and delayed. The motivation was at an all-time low. But despite all that, time and destiny have their way of steering you in the right direction. I eventually became an OT Intern (fieldwork). I started to work with individuals and their families of all ages — pediatrics and development, adult physical rehabilitation and geriatrics, mental health, and community-based rehabilitation. I learned that this was my life’s purpose after all: to help people and make an impact in their lives as an occupational therapist. My initial notions of becoming a doctor have faded, and I knew that I have a greater purpose in the field of occupational therapy. From there, I steered full gear to become a licensed occupational therapist in the Philippines.
After working as a licensed OT for almost two years, I realized that there was more to the world of OT that I still don’t know. I joined an information session of the Post-Professional Master’s program at USC and understood that this was my next big step. Fast forward a couple of months and here I am writing this blog post for you to read. It was a scary, giant leap forward, considering that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. I truly appreciate the great help of Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh and Dr. Danny Park with the Global Initiatives team in making this process the smoothest it can be despite the circumstances. I just started my journey here at USC, and I already have tons of stories to share. But I won’t make this blog post any longer, so keep a lookout for my next blog entries to tell you more about it.
If you have ever watched Marvel Studios’ Loki, the TV series, you can consider me as a “variant” of myself in the universe’s Sacred Timeline. There is a Marvyn in another universe who is a medical doctor, there’s another Marvyn who ended up being a pilot, and then there’s me: Marvyn the occupational therapist and a proud master’s student of the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Things might not have turned out the way it was initially planned, and that’s the beauty of this whole thing! I am so glad to be where I am today, most especially in USC, and I can’t wait to see what comes next!
I Don’t Say This Everyday But . . . >
May 7, 2021
We spent how many hours on Zoom every day for 9 months, yet it wasn’t until the last day of classes when I realized just how much I’m going to miss my MA1 classmates. What we thought was only going to be a temporary virtual learning setup has been stretched to a whole academic year. Even though this was surely nothing close to how we imagined going through graduate school, still, for some reason, it went our way because we are finishing in A WEEK! It just weirdly feels a little short. I’m still at a loss for words, just like how I was when I was trying to write my very first blog. What words could possibly capture how great of an adventure it has been?
A couple of months ago we were all just a bunch of strangers trying to find a place in this new world. It’s one thing to find acceptance; but feeling a sense of belongingness and a feeling of home is a whole different story — one that I’ve found in this wonderful group of people. I have hoped for companionship but what I’ve found is so much more: teamwork, diversity, and nothing but love and support for one another. I’m really so proud of us and all I can think of is — what a time to be in to witness these individuals succeed through challenges! We really embodied that “Fight On!” Trojan spirit, didn’t we? Truly, my experience thus far has been nothing short of amazing because of all the people on the other end of my computer screen. I’m sure you know, but it bears repeating.
Here are some of the unforgettable memories we had in the past year 😊
Of course, my USC Chan experience has been greatly enriched by working with the amazing team of student ambassadors and our supervisor, Kim Kho, who constantly encouraged me to do my best work and really contributed a lot to my growth. I learned A LOT from each and every one of you and I’m so thankful to have been a part of this team!! I also want to thank my dearest family and friends without whom I wouldn’t be where I am today. And to all the readers, it has been a pleasure to be able to share this crazy adventure with you all through my blogs and videos.
Now, I shall go back to studying for my comprehensive exams. After graduation, I will be working with Dr. Daniel Park for the Summer OT Immersion program that is happening on July, so I hope to see some of you there! What’s next after that — I don’t quite know yet; but as always, we Fight On Forever!
All the love and well wishes,
A Day in the Life (Hybrid edition) >
April 28, 2021
“What’s a typical day of a master’s student look like?” “How are your classes being held?”— these two must be some of the top questions that I get asked by students. That is why I decided to make a vlog called A Day in the Life—Hybrid edition, because we are currently employing a combination of in-person and virtual formats for some of our courses. Safety measures are observed to ensure safe delivery of in-person instruction, such as weekly COVID-19 tests, completing the Trojan Check before coming to campus, physically distanced classroom seating arrangement (one student per table), and wearing of face shields whenever we needed to get closer than 6 feet with each other. In this video, you will see me go to campus for our in-person class for OT500: Clinical Problems in OT, Special Topics and Emerging Practices, wherein we learned from Jane Baumgarten OTR/L proper techniques when performing physical transfers and mobility on a variety of client populations. I also included steps on how to do the Trojan Check and how to make a reservation to use the library. Watch the video here: