What are OS/OT?
Learning and Applying ⟩
July 15, 2022, by Andrea
Coming to USC, specifically to USC Chan, my passion for OT grew as I became more immersed in my classes and the opportunities for learning more about the profession. One of the ways I was able to explore my desires as a professional was through the Summer Institute.
I attended the Summer Institute in the summer of 2021 in the hope of gaining a clear direction in my journey as an OT student and exploring the unique disciplines. Throughout the six weeks, we explored our goals academically and professionally, gained mentorship, and the ways in which we can reduce health disparities in minority populations.
The most impactful week for me was when we held a student panel. It was a space where current students provided honest insight into their journey into OT as it related to their identities — first-generation and/or POC. Hearing from each panelist about how they were introduced and came to love their professions was definitely a highlight. The diversity in their journeys was a reminder that everyone has their own set path.
Some aspects that I continue to utilize even after the program are the tips on how to seek mentorship and professional development. Seeking mentorship can be a daunting task, but I was able to understand that it can be a process. It’s not always that the first person you cold email will respond. Being a mentee in any program requires flexibility, following up, and good communication. I utilized these skills in my sophomore year in the USC First-Generation Mentorship Program with my own mentor which better prepared me as a mentee. Learning how outreach to OT professionals was a skill I gained confidence in.
As the current cohort for the Summer Institute of 2022 is in the midst of their program, I encourage you to invest in fruitful connections within your cohort and faculty. Each person in that zoom call has a passion for OT and the ways we can impact our communities. Through my experience in the Summer Institute, my passion for serving the Latinx community was solidified and my confidence in my own journey was strengthened. The growth and learning don’t stop at the end of the six weeks, instead, it only marks the beginning of your journey as a healthcare professional.
How Shadowing Led Me to OT ⟩
June 29, 2022, by Andrea
What are OS/OT?
From a young age, I always knew I wanted to help people, and one of my greatest influences when pursuing a career in the medical field is my grandma.
My grandma immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in 1971 in hopes to advance her career as a nurse in the States. Even with little knowledge of the language, a new culture, and with minute support, my grandma was successful in her dreams. Over the next decade, my grandma has worked towards her aspiration and she became a registered nurse in the States in 1983.
Her heart for serving people is something I deeply admire. Whether I understood my admiration for her at age seven or not, my actions often reflected her work as a nurse. My sister and I would pretend to play “doctor” using each other as patients and as I got older, I would listen intently to her as she explained some of her fieldwork like checking blood sugar, or blood pressure.
You could probably guess the shock on my grandma’s face when I broke the news to her that I didn’t have an interest in following in her footsteps as a nurse. Despite this new revelation, I knew I still wanted to be in the medical field — what that looked like, I didn’t exactly know.
On my journey to discovering occupational therapy, I first settled on a possible career in optometry. I wore glasses since kindergarten and my yearly visits to the optometrist were always pleasant so this decision seemed the most practical. However, optometry didn’t ignite enough passion in me so soon this idea faded away.
Throughout high school, I took classes that would benefit me in a future career in health care. In my junior year of high school, I shadowed at a pediatric occupational therapy clinic. I shadowed the therapist throughout the day and after each patient, she would talk through her work, the fundamentals of OT, and how they applied to the activities I observed in her sessions. I appreciated her patience with my little knowledge about OT as she took her time to explain. Her passion for her work and care for her patients were infectious. During my time at this clinic, no other career path had sparked such joy and ambition in me the way occupational therapy had. After my shadowing experience, I was set on a career in OT. OT encompassed the values of patient care and a holistic view of health care.
With this new revelation, I applied to USC’s BS-MA occupational therapy program (now BS-OTD). As I enter my third year in my program, I continue to learn about the vast variety of specialties and the work OTs do. Through Chan’s many opportunities to get involved, even as an undergraduate student, like the OT/PT Summer Institute and the Vivir con Diabetes program, I have found enthusiasm in educating and providing occupational therapy services to the Latinx community.
Magic of GI ⟩
May 4, 2022, by Global Initiatives Team
By Maggie Goodfellow MA ’21, OTD ’22
Editors Alison Chang and Vanessa ElShamy
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students
If I told you there was magic behind one of the doors in CHP, would you believe me? Well, no — not the traditional type of ‘magic’ that involves playing cards or bunnies appearing out of hats, but rather, something even better. Behind the doors of CHP 161, you’ll find the magic of a global community, the magic of pushing boundaries, and the magic of discovering what it means to “grow together”. In case you couldn’t tell, the first word that comes to my mind when I think about Global Initiatives is . . . Magic (surprise!).
#1. The Magic of a Global Community. The door (and room) of CHP 161 can be quite deceiving at first glance. However, upon opening the door, you’ll immediately find a friendly face who will welcome you in and ask you about your day. As someone whose home is across the world in South Korea, the GI office quickly became my home away from home, somewhere I could go when I needed a break in between classes, somewhere I could trust would be welcoming and safe, and somewhere I knew a friend would be. The irony of our small office is that inside it lives a global community. Everyone’s culture is welcomed and the mundane interactions, such as sharing snacks from our respective countries or creating a poster for a holiday, become the building blocks of lifelong friendships. There’s something very special about the friendships built through GI, as they are grounded in our shared love for celebrating each other’s cultural differences and upbringings. Through Global Initiatives, I’ve seen the magic that can happen when you not only keep the door open for others, but also provide them with a seat, listen to what they have to say, and recognize there is always an opportunity to learn from them.
#2. The Magic of Pushing Boundaries. When it comes to magic tricks, you typically see the outcome but rarely see the hard work and determination that’s required to master them. More importantly, it takes confidence and the belief in yourself that you can do something that seems impossible. While it seems silly to compare the projects of GI to a magic trick, quite frankly, some of the projects did seem impossible at first. To name a few, just over the past 3 years our team has implemented Frientorship Circles, a global poster exchange, a global Pen Pal program, a “Global Citizenship” thread in the new Entry-Level OTD curriculum, and so much more. I’m incredibly grateful to this team who has time after time shared their creativity and demonstrated the power of creating something with their hearts and the intention to uplift others. Moreover, none of this would be possible without Danny Park, who empowers each member of our team to take their ideas and transform them into reality. Together, this is what creates the magic to push and continue pushing boundaries.
#3. The Magic of “Growing Together”. When I first joined Global Initiatives as a student worker, I was a first year MA-2 student who was eager to learn yet shy in voicing my opinions. It’s funny how, in just three years, I’m able to see so much growth in myself, both personally and professionally. Thank you, Global Initiatives, for being part of my journey and showing me that growth rarely happens alone — it happens through the mentorship and support of others. From celebrating birthdays to accomplishing various professional milestones together, I could not have asked for a better team to grow with by my side.
Humans of USC Chan Volume 3 ⟩
April 20, 2022, by Seth
Committing to graduate school is a big decision and exploring which ones may be the best fit for you can be an equally arduous experience. I remember when I was looking into occupational therapy programs, I looked at the standard quality and cost components, but as a queer person, I was also looking for a place and a profession that I felt could let me blossom as I transitioned into a new life stage (i.e., adulthood, a professional, and, let’s be honest, a world outside of the closet). I wanted to know if I could drop my hairpins or if I had to censor myself. I wanted to know if I could bring LGBTQIA+ topics into the classroom without being anxious about how they would be received. Would I feel isolated or could I find a community? My community? What are my classmates’ experiences, and what can I learn from them? These questions can be hard to find and directly seeking them out can be intimidating or a moment of self-disclosure that may not feel right yet. After all, it’s not often you see these experiences plastered on a program’s website. So, I took it upon myself to do just that.
I hosted a forum with some LGBTQIA+ students within the Chan Division to talk about how they discovered occupational therapy, their relationship with the profession, and their experiences navigating an occupational therapy program. This is a video curated by a queer person in partnership with queer people. And this one is for the family! We even share some advice for those thinking of applying to a program. If you choose to watch it through YouTube, the video is time-stamped with each topic if you ever want to go back to a specific conversation.
I hope you find this video helpful and that these diverse perspectives give you more insight into what LGBTQIA+ student life is like in the Chan Division! Welcome back to the Humans of USC Chan!
Everything I know about life, I learned from OT ⟩
April 20, 2022, by Global Initiatives Team
By Josh Digao, Post-Professional Master’s Student
Editor Alison Chang and Vanessa ElShamy
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students
I am from a country that still has, at its very core, patriarchal values. Not to say that the Philippines is a backwards country, but I and a lot of the pre-social media generation Filipinos were raised to believe that men were supposed to act a certain way. When you are raised in such an environment, it becomes what you believe to be right and wrong. Growing up, I felt trapped in a box that dictated how I should think, act, and speak in order to be accepted as a tunay na lalaki (real man). “Don’t care too much”, “Don’t show your emotions”, “Never let others tell you you’re wrong.” In my mind, being this arrogant, unfeeling, uncaring person was what being a man meant. But I struggled with that belief; I did not want to align myself with that archaic idea of a “real man.” It was not until I took up OT that I learned I did not have to.
It was in OT school, the pontifical and royal University of Santo Tomas, that I met some of the strongest and most wonderful people who helped me unlearn my ideas of toxic masculinity and made me the person I am today. The first of which was a professor that tried her best to instill in her students the value of being kind. A Mabuting OT (kind OT) - that is what she wanted us to be. For her, it did not matter as much that you knew all the therapeutic techniques in the book, or that you could name every muscle, bone, or nerve in the human body. What mattered was that when faced with a client, you would treat them with the utmost respect and compassion, regardless of status, age, or ability. “It’s better to be the kindest therapist than the smartest therapist” is what she would always tell us. It was not until I encountered my first few clients that I realized just how right she was. Clients, and even their family members, responded best to therapy when they felt that their autonomy and personhood was respected and cared for.
The second lesson was that of empathy. This one I attribute to the remarkable group of humans I call my friends. I have been lucky enough to be around people who are deeply loving, sensitive, and emotionally mature. Through them, I learned that in order to truly understand the emotions of others, we need to be attuned to our own. However, before I could learn to comprehend my emotions, I had to allow myself to first feel them. This realization would come to not only help me in my personal growth, but in my professional growth as well. In clinics and hospitals, I would often encounter people at their lowest points. During those moments, I realized more than ever the importance of being empathetic to other people’s struggles.
The last lesson came from my clinical instructors during my internship. Being new to the field, I was largely unconfident in my skills and abilities. I had no experience, and on top of that, the knowledge I was heavily relying on was purely theoretical. But when my clinical instructors (all of whom were amazing OTs) gave me feedback, they would focus on what it was that I did well. They recognized my strengths first, and that gave me the foundation that I needed to develop my own professional identity. I learned not only to accept the person I was, flaws and all, but to also be confident in what I bring to the table.
I believe that OTs are some of the most incredible people out there. The kindness and wisdom that I have seen from every single OT I have met continues to amaze me. Though I consider myself to be a deeply flawed person, they have taught me that the person I am is enough. I have learned that the only way to be a “real man” is to be true to yourself. As I am currently in the process of unlearning outdated values from my childhood, I know that perfection is not my goal; kindness, understanding, and acceptance are. If we extend these values toward ourselves, we will realize that at the end of the day what really matters is we are all trying our best - and we can already be proud of that.