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University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Jessica P.

My Summer Reading List ⟩
July 20, 2017, by Jessica P.

Life Hacks What are OS/OT?

One of my all time favorite occupations is reading. Growing up, I would spend countless nights awake binge reading books. Now, as a college student, I have less and less time to indulge in free reading books. I typically use my summers to catch up on my never ending reading list. This summer, many of the books I have read have occupational therapy undertones.

I have read so many amazing books this summer so I am sharing my top must-read books for Summer 2017!

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey
by Jill Bolte Taylor

I first heard Taylor’s story by watching her TED talk, in which the Harvard brain scientist details her experience suffering a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. The novel delves even deeper into her personal experience with the balance between the two hemispheres of her brain.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Written by the former Editor in Chief of French Elle Magazine, Bauby describes his own experience of locked-in syndrome, which he develops after a stroke. Bauby is physically paralyzed and can only communicate through blinking his left eye. It is a refreshing look at what recovery means from a patient perspective.

Goodbye Things book cover

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism
by Fumio Sasaki

Minimalism was first popularized by Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Sasaki’s book differs in that he gives personal anecdotes on how he has decluttered his life, as well as the psychological benefits he has experienced. With a whole section on tips to minimalize your own life, this book is a great tool for students to get organized and ready for the upcoming school year.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character
by Paul Tough

I originally read this book in Kate Crowley’s course, OT 320: The Nature of Human Occupation: Form, Function, and Meaning, however I decided to re-read it again to refresh myself on it. Tough’s book centers on some of the top youth chess players across the country and the one characteristic that they have in common: grit.


Home for the Holidays ⟩
December 22, 2016, by Kimmy

Life Hacks Living in LA

I never thought that I would be so far from home. As a New York native, California was far from my future plans — both geographically and idealistically. Little did I know, USC would win me over and become my home, 3000 miles away from home.

Admittedly, my first few months were challenging. I came from a small town and went to school with classmates I had known for the past 12 years. But then, slowly but surely, I found myself enveloped in and invigorated by the Trojan Family. I joined a sorority, I participated in student organizations, I buried my nose in the book stacks of Doheny, and I cheered on the football team.

But New York is always my home base. My parents lend their ears when I need to vent. My brother offers advice to guide my way. My friends make me laugh even in the midst of midterms. A simple text message can traverse the vastness of the country, making distance virtually nonexistent.

And the holidays provide the perfect reason to physically traverse the country, enduring the bus-plane-car trio to finally land back in my twin size bed. Though my trips home have become less frequent each successive year, they have not become any less meaningful. It is now my first time home in a year, since I was in Utah for fieldwork over summer break. During these three weeks, I will soak up as much winter cheer as I can.

Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

One of my favorite New York winter sights!

Though leaving home may be difficult at times (as is graduate school), I have no regrets about my decision. With friends that feel like family and an education to prepare me for my future, USC has truly become my home away from home. That being said, of course there is no place like home!

If you have any questions about moving out of state for OT school, please do not hesitate to reach out. 😊


Tips to Survive Finals ⟩
December 2, 2016, by Kimmy

Life Hacks School/Life Balance

With finals week quickly approaching, stress levels have been running a little higher than usual. But as OTs, we have a few tricks up our sleeves to stay relaxed. Here’s a list of some of my stress-free strategies:

  • Make a schedule. Fit in time for your work and play and rest and sleep.
  • Study with friends. As long as you stay focused most of the time, collaborating with classmates is a great way to review for finals. Explaining the material to someone else will help you remember it more than simply reading the facts by yourself. A few momentary distractions make the process more fun anyway. 😊
  • Don’t forget about exercise! Taking a study break to fit in a workout video or a quick jog can. You can even stay in shape without leaving your desk.
  • Light a scented candle to create the perfect study environment. Or splurge for some essential oils for the ultimate aromatherapy experience.
  • Treat yourself with a hot cup of tea (or coffee, if you need that caffeine fix). It will get you excited about the cozy relaxation awaiting you over winter break.
  • Change up your study spot. Escape the walls of your room and try out a hidden café or tranquil library.
  • Call home. Sometimes, I just need to talk to Mom or Dad. Talk to that person who helps you stay calm, gives you a reason to laugh, and boosts your confidence no matter what chaos you may be facing.

Happy holidays!

Happy holidays!


Fuel Your Studies! ⟩
September 19, 2016, by Alyssa

Life Hacks

As an occupational therapy student, I am always on the go! Whether I am checking my email, reading an article, driving to school, or getting my daily exercise in, I find myself always occupied. ☺ When I first started the master’s program, one of the challenges I came across was ensuring that I was eating healthy. With balancing a busy school schedule and workload, healthy eating can become less of a priority. Skipping meals, buying snacks from the vending machines, or eating on the go can become commonplace, especially since all of these can save you time! Healthy eating requires time, planning, and yes, some money. However, healthy eating is possible and should be a priority, especially if you would like to optimize your learning!

Here are some strategies I use that support my healthy eating:

  1. Plan Ahead: Make a list of meals and snacks you would like to eat for the week. Make sure within this list, you have a good balance among your fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates. Using your time management skills to plan the food supplies you need can help ensure that your meals are healthy!
  2. Buy and Cook in Bulk: Grocery shopping at bulk stores, such as Costco, has ensured that I have enough food for the week and I am getting the bang for my buck! Cooking in bulk means leftovers! Leftovers are great, especially when time is limited and do not want to cook as many meals during the week!
  3. Bring your lunch and snacks to school: Yes, pack your snacks and lunch in your favorite lunch pail! Everyone does it. ☺ Your snacks and lunch doesn’t have to be boring! Pack some foods, such as Greek yogurt, fresh berries, vegetables and hummus, almonds, apples, and string cheese! Bringing your lunch and snacks to school help you avoid buying junk foods from the vending machine or stopping through a fast food drive through!

Remember, eating healthy can be fun! Use your creativity & do your online research to find what snacks/foods can best fit your daily routine!


Next Steps . . . ⟩
May 9, 2016, by Joe

Beginnings and Endings Getting Involved Life Hacks School/Life Balance

So, here we are, final blog post. I graduate in FOUR DAYS! (WOO!)

I’ve had the most incredible and transformative journey. I pivoted from one career path to come into the OT profession, initially aimed at going into physical rehab, then every semester showed me a new side of OT which flipped my world upside down. Now at the end of my final semester, I find myself interested in bridging between physical rehab and mental health practice, with a touch of primary care. And with one more fieldwork to go, I wonder how my interests will change by the time I take the board exam.

USC Chan has given me more than just clinical skills, but personal and professional life skills as well. If it wasn’t for the tremendous mentorship I received from our stellar faculty, I would not have become so involved with AOTA, which has opened incredible leadership opportunities and experiences, like attending conference to speak in front of hundreds of people, and even representing the OT profession at physical therapy’s national student conclave. Looking back, I can’t believe how much has happened in 2 years. it’s all just flown by!

So, what’s next?

I’ll be at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in their outpatient mental health programs. This includes working with teenagers with behavioral health problems, adults with special needs, and refugees for community integration. I’m SO excited to get started, and looking forward to being back on the east coast. I’m still waiting to hear from residency placements, but I expect to be back in the fall for the OTD program . . . with how much has happened in these last 2 years, who knows what that year of mentorship will bring as I’ll be a fully licensed occupational therapist!

For those of you just beginning your OT journey, some tips:

1. Get to know your faculty! I remember right at the beginning of the program, Dr. Samia Rafeedie, Director of the Professional Program, said simply: “you’re a student for now, but I see you all as future colleagues,” which really set the tone for the relationships we should develop with our faculty. I’ve made it a point to meet with each of my professors one-on-one at least once per semester. They have invaluable insight and expertise, and their input has been so crucial to my personal growth and success in the program. Make the effort, it’s well worth it! (And don’t worry, they’re all friendly and warm, they’re OTs!)

2. Learn through experience! Our classes are great at setting your foundation for clinical reasoning and developing hard clinical skills through fieldwork, but there is so much more to learn about yourself both personally and professionally through extracurricular experiences. Go to all the seminars, guest lectures, presentations, and the myriad opportunities available to you throughout your time in the program. I’ve continued to learn new skills through some unexpected ways, such as meditation training through my volunteer work with the health promotion office, and presentation skills through my work as an ambassador.

3. Get involved with our professional associations! I cannot stress this enough! Being a part of the OT profession means being a member of your professional associations at the state and national level. Not only do they act as your professional insurance to protect the work we do as OTs, but there are really great opportunities for learning and networking. Which leads me to:

3.5. Go to conferences! They’re super fun, but also give you a chance to feel part of the greater OT community. Go to the mixers and networking events, attend sessions of interest — I’ve made so many good friends from attending conferences. That’s where I meet the OTs who have similar interests as me, and who have offered invaluable advice going through the process. While there are lots of conference and symposium opportunities, attending at least once AOTA national conference is a must!

And finally, 4. RELAX. It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and workload of school, but remember to take time to take care of yourself. We talk about balance a lot as OTs, make sure to apply that to yourself. Keep up with leisure and recreational activities, make time for friends and family, and give yourself permission to enjoy a delicious meal and a good night’s rest.

Ok, one more — 4.5. Celebrate your successes! You’re going to work hard, savor the fruits of that labor!

Recruitment Team Dinner

Recruitment Team Dinner

Oh, and always . . . FIGHT ON!

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