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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog
What are OS/OT?

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A Love Letter to OT ⟩
February 6, 2024, by Samantha

What are OS/OT?

With February upon us, love is in the air and, as a bit of a hopeless romantic myself, I’ve been taking time to reflect on the things I love, including OT. Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to pursue my dreams and find a career that I was passionate about. My dad would say, “Sam, if you’re doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Although I have yet to fully immerse myself in practice, every time I participate in fieldwork and envision the future I’m creating for myself in school, I’m confident that I love OT in the same way my dad describes loving his career. Upon reflection, here are some of the many reasons I fell in love with the profession of occupational therapy:

Playing with a Purpose: As a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to occupational therapy when my cousin, Tori, was born with Down Syndrome. In efforts to support my family and learn more about pediatric healthcare professions, I joined Tori at many of her PT, OT, and speech therapy sessions. It was here that I began to recognize the value of play as a means of therapeutic intervention. Whether it was running around on an obstacle course to work on balance and motor planning or swinging on a bolster swing to receive vestibular input, Tori was having fun while simultaneously strengthening skills that would be applicable to other facets of her life. Through my observations in this OT clinic, I fell in love with the concept of playing with a purpose and knew I could see myself making a difference in children’s lives in this manner for the rest of my life.

Me and Tori at my White Coat Ceremony in 2022!

Me and Tori at my White Coat Ceremony in 2022!

Flexibility in Practice Areas: Like many, I arrived at OT school with my heart set on pediatrics. As I began my first immersion, I was placed at an outpatient hand therapy clinic for fieldwork and became enamored with the complexities and inner workings of the hand and wrist. Internally, I began having a bit of an identity crisis, as I was unsure of the definitive path I wanted to pursue. However, my perspective shifted when I recognized the flexibility within the field of OT. Although certain settings require advanced practice, there’s a beauty to the inherent flexibility that this profession offers. OT practitioners have the freedom to navigate through various practice areas at different points in their lives. For instance, starting an entry-level position in acute care doesn’t confine someone to that setting forever. If this same individual desires to start a family or becomes the primary caregiver of a loved one later in life, transitioning seamlessly to a more suitable practice area without returning to school is a viable option. Ultimately, I love that the dynamic nature & flexibility of occupational therapy not only promotes the practitioners’ ability to enhance the lives of others, but also empowers them to pursue a career that aligns with their evolving personal and professional aspirations.

Applications of Creativity: As a creative person who enjoys crafting and making music, I love having the opportunity to integrate these aspects of my own life into professional practice. In our Creativity, Craft, and Activity Analysis course, we explored different creative modalities that can be used to enhance interventions with clients. From collaging a vision board to promote self-awareness and identity to making a pumpkin out of construction paper to practice cutting with scissors, the possibilities are endless. The creative process allows people to explore and express themselves in ways that traditional interventions might not achieve, therefore being creative in my personal life informs my practice. Although this application can be challenging at times, I find it exciting to be able to integrate occupations I enjoy in my profession.

Me and my classmates knitting in the Creativity, Craft, and Activity Analysis course

Me and my classmates knitting in the Creativity, Craft, and Activity Analysis course

Though everyone’s occupational therapy journey is different, I hope that my experience and love for the profession helps you appreciate it & ponder the reasons you’re pursuing this career too.


From Curiosity to Commitment: A 7-Year Quest to Unveil the Essence of OT ⟩
February 5, 2024, by Sheryl

International What are OS/OT?

As I introspect upon my journey as a pedagogy resident and doctoral student in the Post-Professional OTD program here at Chan, I reignite my glowing passion for occupational therapy and hope to do so for you.

Despite creating so many elevator pitches summarizing an answer to the question ‘So, what is Occupational Therapy?’ I still struggle doing that question justice. Among many stories that contributed to choosing my path to becoming an OT was the story of a younger version of me yet to discover occupational therapy.

It was at the age of 17 in high school where I would first hear about Occupational Therapy. One of my electives in high school created an opportunity to observe a Special Education School. It was here where I would continue to meet the most resilient and brilliant children whose diagnosis did not hinder their potential and a team of teachers and physical therapists working effortlessly to create a safe space for them to flourish. There was a need for OTs that echoed in those corridors that I notice now, and after a very invigorating experience, I proceeded to request to meet with one of the physical therapists at the school. She spoke to me about this famously untapped potential of Occupational Therapy and the very growing need for OTs. That was the conversation that brought me to my very first ‘So, what is occupational therapy?’ which would then go on to launch my dream of becoming an occupational therapist.

As my vague goals shaped into specific inquiries, my curiosity became insatiable. After extensive research about Occupational Therapy, I began to comprehend how this field was truly radical.

That day, this younger version of me in my home in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia would go on to make a road map of my life with a list of OT schools all around the world with the only intention to learn the most so that she could answer her first burning ‘So, what is occupational therapy?’ I remember sticking that piece of paper on the mirror of my dresser.

It has since been 7+ years of OT school, 7 World OT days, 3 degrees in Occupational Therapy and an unquenched thirst to fathom the true power of occupational therapy and repeatedly answer that same question passionately.

After graduating from the Post Professional Master’s (PP-MA) program at USC, my inquisitive mind continued to implore me to gather knowledge about academia, the curriculum and understanding the potentiality of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. I hope to contribute to the lineage of excellence at the Division and propagate the importance of Occupational Therapy as a Post-Professional OTD student here at USC Chan. This remains my driving force as I add another pit stop on the road map I created 7 years ago.


OT Didn’t Choose Me, I Chose OT ⟩
January 19, 2024, by Natalie

First-Gen What are OS/OT?

Now this isn’t one of those admirable stories where the storyteller explains how occupational therapy has always been a part of their life — in fact, I did not know OT existed almost until the end of my undergraduate career. This story is one about unexpected chances [coincidences instead of unexpected chances?] and for that, I am forever grateful.

From a very early age, I was taught the importance of higher education and encouraged to know what career path I wanted to take. For the longest time, I saw myself pursuing medical school to become a pediatrician, until I also saw myself as a firefighter, a police officer, a lawyer, a teacher . . . the list goes on. I was coming up towards the end of my junior year of college when I felt the impending need to decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. *cue the internal panic*

At the time, I was taking a course titled “Psychology of Aging” and one of our assignments was to find and research a profession that works closely with older adults. I completed my assignment, talking about how cool art therapy sounds. I was so excited to have found a potential career path that would allow me to help people through art. My partner then recommended I speak to his sister, who “probably has experience with art therapy but I think also does a whole bunch of other cool things with her clients as an occupational therapist?. . .” I was so curious to learn more about this “occupational therapy” so I spoke to his sister and she shared all her knowledge and experiences with me. And the rest is history from there . . . (just kidding, is it ever that easy?)

As I learned more and more about OT and what it is, what it looks like, and how broad the profession is, I felt both thrilled and confused. There was so much to learn (which still applies now), and the more I searched, the more I found. The best part of this process — and most telling — was that every time I learned something new, I felt further captivated by OT. I soon realized that this is THE profession for me — it gives endless possibilities for what populations and practice settings I can work with/in and blends my interests for art and science well.

Additionally, despite all of the information I found about the profession when I went digging for it, I was baffled to discover how widely unknown OT is. It seemed as if having a personal experience with OT was the only way people knew about it. I mean, I only learned about it by chance. I quickly realized this lack of recognition of the field meant underserved populations likely have limited-to-no access to the types of services occupational therapy can provide, and that didn’t sit well with me. Because of this, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in OT where I can work within those underserved communities and hopefully serve as an advocate for both my clients and the profession.


Life is For Service ⟩
December 3, 2023, by Brigid

What are OS/OT?

During my sophomore year of college, I spent every Friday afternoon in the sunroom of a long-term care facility in New York City. While the light would fight its way through smudged windows, the older woman who I had gotten to know would describe to me the way the sun would fill her fourth-floor East Village walk-up and bounce off the glass vases and shelves. Since the day she had fallen two years prior, she had not once been back. At ninety-four years old, she now required a wheelchair, shared a small room with another resident who played their TV at maximum volume, and had few possessions apart from a single book and a blanket she had knit while at the facility.

young child looks to man using wheelchair

35mm by Elisabetta Diorio used with permission

Though not obvious to me at first, I eventually came to understand the power of what I could offer at that point in my life: companionship. I could help with the everyday tasks the doctors, nurses, and therapists often could not attend to: reaching the high-up shelves, remaking the beds, transporting residents to the horticulture and arts classes, and providing a consistent presence that may, in some small part, diminish the profound social isolation that so often accompanies chronic pain, illness, disability, and institutionalization.

Still, I wanted to do more. I wanted to be more useful and effective. I wanted to help the residents not just survive in their present state, but to thrive. While acknowledging the physical, mental, or structural barriers, I knew there had to be a better way to design each resident’s schedule, skills, and space to better serve them as an individual and respect their human dignity.

This desire to think outside the box brought me back to the occupational therapists I had encountered in my childhood as my parents had sought services to help my younger brother manage his dyslexia and dyscalculia. In their offices and sensory gyms, my brother learned how to read and write independently, improve his executive functioning, and address motor challenges, his confidence transformed in the process. I admired how the occupational therapists met my brother where he was without judgment and worked with him to develop the skills and knowledge needed to achieve his own goals and pursue his own passions.

For the remainder of my time in college, I studied human development, community, and the greater societal forces that shape us, while gaining practical experience. From collaborating with a palliative care physician on an undergraduate seminar for pre-health students to serving as an assistant teacher in a toddler research center, I was confirmed in my belief that, in the words of Fred Rogers, “life is for service.”

The practice of occupational therapy, in my view, sits at the intersection of our understandings of the human condition, capacity for growth, and interdependence. What we do, who we are, and what we may be capable of in this world is made possible through the presence of others who are able to, with tenderness, hold a mirror up to our strengths, values, and areas of need, while collaborating on possibilities and strategies to move forward.

This is what has brought me to occupational therapy.

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!

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