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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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An Autumnal Occupation ⟩
, by Heather

Life Hacks

The Fall season is absolutely my favorite time of year. It reminds me of the times when my grandma and I would partake in one of our favorite occupations: making pomegranate jelly.

During October and November, I would go over to her house almost every weekend to make our wonderful creation. The process was long, yet meditative. First, we would pick the pomegranates off of the tree. Bags and bags of them. Then, we would sit for 2-3 hours seeding the pomegranates in tubs of water. By doing this in water, the seeds were prone to loosen and break out of their membrane without squirting everywhere. From here, my grandma would juice the seeds to make pomegranate juice (remember, this was before POM juice was a thing). The rest of the process involved adding sugar, pectin, and acid to balance out the thickening action of the pectin. The sugar was integral to the recipe because it increased the volume of the juice, sweetened it, and helped to prevent the jelly from fermenting. The last step was to pour the jelly concoction into sanitized Mason Jars, stir the contents to eliminate air bubbles, and skim the foam off the surface.

Grandma always told me that pomegranates were healthy, but I never quite understood why. Just recently, I did some research to find out their health benefits. Some of the interesting facts that I discovered were that pomegranates contain high levels of vitamin C and many types of antioxidants, namely 3: anthocyanidins: cyaniding, delphinidin, and pelargonidin. The polyphenol context is 3X the amount found in green tea and red wine. Studies show that they are directly related to the prevention of cancer and heart disease prevention

The occupation of making pomegranate jelly has been very important to me throughout my youth and young adulthood. After my grandma passed away, my mom and I have continued to engage in the ritual every Fall season. I believe that every life has meaningful occupations like this one, and that it is worthy task to continue practicing them throughout our lives.


Application Season ⟩
, by Leila

Admissions Community Housing and Transportation Life Hacks Videos

It’s been a while since I’ve placed my blogging lens on, but here I am! Our fall semester has made it to the midpoint and I’m sure most of you know application deadlines are fast approaching (at least for early decision). This past week I attended my first information session here at our division, but this time as a student ambassador! It’s crazy to think that nearly 2 years ago, I too, was a prospective student, nervous and excited to hear about occupational therapy at USC. I remember meeting Ricky, a student ambassador at the time, talking about his student experiences. For me, it was also refreshing to hear that he also had an undergraduate degree in business. At the time, I thought having a degree outside of the health sciences realm would hinder my application. Little did I know that the program welcomed (and continues to welcome) individuals with varying undergraduate degrees!

It was a great first time experience being on the other side at the information session, helping prospective students by answering questions and sharing my student experiences. I remember one individual asking me about my living situation and commute. For those of you that don’t know, I live in Chino, CA. It’s about 33 miles from the health science campus in Los Angeles, CA. I typically drive now due to my work hours, but some days I continue to take the metro. In fact, my first year in the program I primarily took the metro. For those of you considering our program but live or want to live in the surrounding LA area, there’s hope! I would recommend looking into public transportation. It definitely beats LA traffic!

LA city view from Metro

LA city view from Metro

I thought it would be fun to make a mini video of my commute to LA Union Station.

For those of you thinking of OT school, in the application process of OT school or anywhere in between, I wanted to let you know to not give up! I know the process can be grueling at times, but you will get there. When I decided that I wanted to pursue OT, I didn’t even know where to begin! One note of advice I do have is to seek out support. Whether it’s through a family member, a friend, a professor, an OT student, an OT, a mentor, etc. Find someone that will support you through the process.

I remember meeting Bill Wong, a former OT student at USC and asking him to be my mentor! I literally found him through an OT blog post and emailed him asking if he could share his experiences at USC. It sounds a bit creepy, but he was more than willing to and luckily, he became my mentor in the process. (Make sure to do your due diligence on the person before connecting with him or her.) Bill and I still continue to meet on a routine basis, and it’s always great to share what is going on in both our lives.

Here’s an impromptu video Bill and I made this past Sunday. Enjoy!

Last but not least, I have been suffering some migraines and neck pain, most likely due to computer work strain. I went OT on myself and ergonomically optimized my workspace! :cheese:


Eyes on the Prize ⟩
, by Jonathan

Admissions Life Hacks

Hey everyone! Can’t believe it’s officially Fall already! This means a couple things — cooler weather (hopefully), Fall sports (go Lakers, Dodgers, and Trojans!), and application season! For this blog, I’m dedicating it to the hopeful prospective students in the middle of their application process. The application process is a long road, requiring patience, diligence, and sheer determination. Reflecting on my own journey, I can definitely admit that I ran into my own share of challenges. Yes, it can be tedious — taking the GRE, fulfilling prerequisites, requesting letter of recommendations, etc. — at times it can be overwhelming. If you find yourself in this situation, all I can say is, remind yourself what is fueling all your efforts. I think at times, we get so caught up in the process and the end product that we forget why we are doing things in the first place. In my personal experience, I would do my best to give myself daily reminders of my dream. Some ways to do this, which worked for me, include the following:

Reading this blog: I remember meeting Ricardo, a past USC OT student ambassador at OTAC two years ago, and told him that whenever I found myself too caught up in the application process, I would visit this blog to envision what it was like to be a student. In doing so, this would remind me of what I was working towards, and the experiences I would eventually look forward to one day.

Keep immersing yourself in occupational therapy: Listen, you’ve already found your calling, which some people spend their whole lives looking for! Now that you’ve found that OT is for you, then all I can say is start living OT today! Whether that’s volunteering, reading up on research, attending conferences, advocating for OT, etc, it’s never too early to start practicing your calling in life!

Stay balanced: Balance is something we preach in OT everyday. Surround yourself in the meaningful occupations that define who you are, because those occupations will provide perspective, especially if times get rough. I understand that the application process is monumental, but so is living and enjoying your life! In addition, by living a life of balance, you’ll be immersing yourself in a concept that you’ll be emphasizing to all the people you will eventually help one day.

Surround yourself by people who will fuel your fire: By surrounding yourself by people who will support you unconditionally, they’ll be able to give you reminders of why you’re working towards your dream. These are the people who truly understand your passion, and will give you that extra push that you need. Whether that’s family, friends, or a mentor, I can honestly say that without these people in my own life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Dream big: Finish this line: When I am an occupational therapist one day, I want to ________. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish as an OT. In doing so, you’ll give yourself that extra motivation as to why you’re engaged in the application process.

Patience, patience, patience: As i mentioned earlier, the application process takes time. It’s human nature to want instant gratification, but good things truly do come to those who wait.

Your best is all you can ask of yourself: Once you turn in your application, celebrate, blast your favorite song, and do your happy dance.  No matter the outcome, you’ve focused all your efforts over the last couple of weeks/months/years towards making your dream come true, which is all you can really ask of yourself. If that same effort shines through when you’re an OT one day,  you’re going to be an amazing clinician.

Acceptance Letter with Sister

One of the most happiest moments of my life — the day my acceptance letter came in. Here I am with my little sis, as we both got into our respective graduate programs on the same day!

Hope my words of encouragement serve you all well. Stay determined, stay hungry, and stay focused. It’s all worth it. Best of luck to you all!

— Jonathan


I Love Dogs! ⟩
, by Kate

Life Hacks

There is no denying that I am a dog-lover. I grew up with a big Alaskan Malamute in Colorado. He was like a loveable wolf. When I was learning to read, I tried to teach him the alphabet, and later, I took him on my runs during high school lacrosse practice. Misha was a great dog, and the month after I left for college, he passed away from a heart attack. A couple of months later, my parents adopted a Golden Retriever and named her Ladri. I always joke that this dog replaced me as the “favorite blonde” in the family. My parents spoil Ladri like crazy! It’s so great to go home and visit my family with a great puppy who knows who I am even if I’m not always there. Recently, Ladri was diagnosed with cancer, and a couple of weeks later she had a stroke. Her facial muscles were greatly affected, so she has trouble closing her mouth completely. Her muscles above her eyes no longer work, rendering her effectively blind. However, Ladri is still loving life. My parents have “OT-ed her,” by raising her food dish off the floor and leading the way to certain areas with kibble. Ladri still loves to go for walks and play with her toys. She doesn’t love baths, but that’s to be expected for a canine. She is a member of my family through and through and I am so glad she’s still with us. When I graduate in May, I’ve discussed getting a dog because I’ve never owned one since becoming an adult. Since I live in a small apartment, I’d get a smaller dog. It is definitely something to think about and consider — what’s my lifestyle like and which breed would do best for me? I hope I’ve narrowed it down to a couple breeds that have rescue shelters locally.

This past weekend, I was able to dog-sit for one of my best friends. Izzy is a 4 year-old Yorkie who weighs 6 pounds. She is feisty and fierce; however, when no one is looking, if you rub her paws, she will melt. Izzy is a great companion and it was great to spend time with her this weekend. I’ve included a picture so that you can see us snuggling. Woof woof.




Adventures in baking ⟩
, by Rob

Life Hacks Living in LA

I recently had the opportunity to do some hiking and baking the same day, combining two of my favorite occupations. We started off driving up north of Pasadena to Eaton Canyon, a beautiful waterfall hike not too far from the city. The path was jammed with families, school trips, and people out to enjoy the weather and scenery. Fortunately, we know a little secret cutoff that takes hikers above the first falls and away from the crowds.

To get there is a little intense (read: FUN!). I mean, my frontal lobe is mostly developed, right? So I would be scared if there was real danger and I should exhibit good judgment (I just hope my mom isn’t reading this). We scaled a rocky area and edged along the cliff (see picture) to get to the next leg, which involved rock jumping along a stream bed, my favorite part. The reward was a deserted pool of clear, cold mountain water. Of course we jumped in!

That afternoon we baked double chocolate cookies stuffed with salted caramel, both made from scratch. I love to bake — it is a very therapeutic activity — and I’ve found that as I do it more and more, I get better at improvising. We mostly followed a recipe for this one and they were tasty. It was probably the best double chocolate chunk cookie dough I have eaten. I don’t usually eat the dough, but I snacked on this one the whole time! Try it out and share a favorite baking recipe with me if you have one . . .

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