I Don’t Say This Every Day But . . . ⟩
May 7, 2021, by Yna
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, by Yna
“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:
What Made You Decide To Study Abroad? ⟩
March 19, 2021, by Yna
Years ago, when I was still trying to decide whether to stay in my home country or go abroad to pursue a Master’s degree, I employed the usual technique of listing down the pros and cons of each option that I had. It did help a little bit, but what ultimately led me to arrive at a decision was after I asked myself: “What is my goal? What do I want to get out of this?” That’s when I realized that what I was really looking for was something more—an experience that will further strengthen my knowledge and expertise in my chosen field. This is not to say that my education in the Philippines was lacking in any way; I had so much to learn from my university’s rigorous undergraduate program and all its brilliant professors which provided me with the necessary foundations and honed me to be the person that I am. But it is also for this very reason that I found myself with a desire to learn more about how I can apply this knowledge into practice in a manner that will really produce a significant impact to my clients’ lives and even to the larger community.
I was a newly licensed occupational therapist then, barely even worked a year, when I was presented with the opportunity to go to the US. I welcomed the news with both excitement and apprehension, as I was already starting out my career and had all my future plans set out—or so I thought. Making a decision definitely wasn’t an easy feat, with the thought of being separated from my loved ones holding me back the most. Nevertheless, all of my family members and friends were (and still are) very supportive of whatever decision I make—something that I truly appreciate and am very thankful for to this date. As you can tell, I ended up deciding to leave behind the comfortable life that I had for something that’s entirely out of my comfort zone—studying abroad. After performing extensive research about USC Chan and its Post-Professional Master’s program, reading student blogs, consulting various people, I determined that pursuing this road would bring me towards my goal of gaining life experiences that are worthwhile and would add value to my future practice. I felt terrified but at the same time thrilled by the many opportunities that I had imagined this decision would open up for me.
True enough, throughout the time that I have been in the program, I have found myself being the recipient of unique opportunities that I never would have earned in any other place: studying in the #1 ranked OT program in the US, learning from exceptional professors who worked closely with the very people who pioneered OT practice areas such as Sensory Integration and Lifestyle Redesign®, witnessing various breakthroughs in research by many renowned faculty, being part of a supportive community who puts great value in rich perspectives that its diverse students bring to the table, and working as a student ambassador which allowed me to further expand my professional network and enhance a lot of my skills. I put great value in these experiences which is why I feel very satisfied with the choice that I had made back then.
To anyone who is trying to come to a decision on whether to study abroad or not, I unfortunately do not have the answer, but I do have a question for you: What is your goal? I invite you to ask yourself that question that only you could answer, by finding out what you think is worthwhile and in line with what you want to achieve in life.
Dear MA1 Students, ⟩
February 25, 2021, by Yna
How we were able to create an environment filled with nothing but love and support for each other with the challenges of distant learning is something that I don’t know but I sure am thankful of. It is truly amazing to think about it: how a lot of us haven’t even met each other in person — with some of us even having classes from across the globe — and yet, we are able to touch each other’s lives and share this journey together through shared Spotify playlists, after-class study sessions over Zoom, little fun facts about us that we share with each other, random comments over private chat, or even that simple “we got this, guys!” really goes a long way. Every once in a while, we find pleasant surprises from our little interactions with each other that gradually connect us altogether and make our experience nothing short of amazing. Today, here’s a surprise that would hopefully help you get through stressful times 😊
- “Dear MA1 Students — I was asked to provide some words of motivation for you, but I would like to THANK YOU for motivating and inspiring me! I’m so impressed by the perseverance, creativity, and determination that you have demonstrated as post-professional master’s students. You have accomplished so much already, and I’m confident you will continue to succeed both in the master’s program and beyond. Remember to take some time to celebrate your achievements and use that as motivation to continue the hard work on your journey.”
— Dr. Emily Ochi
- “When I was a graduate student, I found this quote that spoke to me and where I was at, at that time… in the midst of late-night study sessions, in-between messy relationships, or wrestling with self-doubt. The quote said:
“Today my anthro professor said something kind of beautiful:
‘You all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.’”I share this quote to give you permission (if you needed it today) to remember to take care of yourself at this time. Of course, we have big dreams for you and I deeply believe in this cohort. Each one of you are incredibly hard workers and I always appreciate the perspectives you bring to class, the work you put into being present (on a screen none-the-less!), and the ways you share your understandings of the class content… But! I will not encourage you to compromise yourself, in order to “save the world”. Let’s get rid of that notion. You matter, and let’s start there. So please take time for yourself, especially in the middle of the semester like we find ourselves in now, and let us know if or when you need support or just extra kindness that day. You are doing an extraordinary thing, having the bravery to study in a new place and challenging yourself with multiple courses. That is more than enough, and I hope this message finds you on a day where you are believing that you are more than enough too. Again, we believe in you and are behind you today!”
— Dr. Kelcie Kadowaki
- “HI MA1! I know graduate school can be overwhelming but remember, you know more than you think you know and you are exactly where you are supposed to be at this moment in time. Give yourselves a pat on the back for all the hard work you are putting into your growth. Enjoy the process. Lean on each other for support. Be confident. Take a break and of course, stay safe. 😊”
— Macy Peralta
- “Dear MA 1 students—It has been such an honor to be your instructor this semester. I look forward to our class because I can sense your intrinsic interest in the material and the ways that you support one another. I love hearing your perspectives as we read qualitative research together! Karin Saric, our librarian, was also very impressed by your thoughtful questions and skillful database searching.
I have been deeply impressed with your resilience, your ability to not only adapt to the remote learning environment but also thrive in this environment. When you had challenges with google drive, you viewed it as an opportunity to learn and grow. 😊 I love that. I hope I can embody this same resilience and adaptability in my own life as well. Thank you for being a part of this class as we learn and grow together.”
— Dr. Tessa Milman
- “Do not underestimate a deep breath of fresh air from a place of serenity like from under your favorite tree or feeling the sense of comfort from having a warm bowl of your favorite soup. These kinds of simple activities, when feeling under a lot pressure can allow space for our minds to take a break and maybe even a chance to reinstate a positive attitude. Remember, sí se puede and that your Chan faculty believe in you!”
— Dr. Celso Delgado
- “Life often gets overwhelming with so many things to do and so many situations out of our control - especially this year! When I get overwhelmed, I sometimes find it helpful to pause, take some deep breaths, and think about a few things I am grateful for and try to think of a things that I can control, even if it’s something as small as what to eat for dinner or watch on Netflix. And then, when I feel overwhelmed again, even if it’s just 5 minutes later, I try not to just acknowledge that sometimes, situations really are overwhelming! (And, around this time in spring semester is usually one of those times, pandemic or not!). As your professors, we want you to know that we are so proud of each one of you for taking the big step of being in this program, engaging and showing up for your classes, and doing your best during this hard time so that you can ultimate be the best OTs and help others as much as possible. We hope you take time to take care of yourselves, and hang in there — it will get better. 😊”
— Dr. Sook-Lei Liew
- “Sometimes, it helps to remember that in the end, we write our own stories. We can be crushed by some unfairness or a failure, or consider these to be the building blocks for future success, as opportunities to overcome, grow, and inspire others. And if it is our reactions to our circumstances that define us, then any circumstance met with optimism, gratitude, and humility becomes a success story. We are living through a time when our lives and occupations are especially disrupted. Maybe this trial by fire could be what forges you into a uniquely exceptional generation of OTs, and one that is looked up to well into the future!”
— Dr. Christopher Laine
- “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas Edison; “The expert in anything was once a beginner.” — Helen Hayes; “You don’t always get what you wish for, you get what you work for.” — Anonymous; “Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.” — Anonymous
— Dr. Sharon Cermak
- “You’ve all worked so hard to get to this point! Think of all the steps you took to get to this program, including for some of you moving to a whole new country! Keep up the great work and when the road ahead looks difficult, don’t forget to look back and marvel at the road traveled to get here!”
— Ty Kim
While these quotes are directed to MA1 students, I’m sure anyone who find themselves in need of a little bit of motivation could use these too. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, Fight On!
10 Things I Like About Being a Student Ambassador ⟩
January 29, 2021, by Yna
We recently conducted an information session about the student ambassador position, which made me look back and reflect upon my experience thus far as a student ambassador—and I came up with a list of 10 things that I like about being one!
- Forming connections with a lot of people — For the most part, being a student ambassador is really about connecting with different people: from prospective students, current students, alumni, clinicians, faculty, and staff. Whether it is to answer a prospective student’s question during an info session/career fair, or to gather my fellow classmates’ opinions, or to ask for a clinician’s expert advice, every interaction is unique and helps me broaden my perspective about different matters.
- Being of help to prospective students — Not too long ago, I was also in the position of being an applicant which I know could feel overwhelming, especially if you’re coming from a different country like myself. I remember having feelings of anxiety because the whole application process was pretty novel to me, not to mention a whole lot other things to take into consideration such as housing, scholarships, and financial aid. Being a student ambassador allows me to be of assistance to students who find themselves in this position by sharing my experiences—tips on what I’ve found helpful, what not to do, who to reach out to, and other helpful resources I can provide them.
- Having lots of opportunity to be creative — I work closely with Lamoni in managing USC Chan’s pages; and having to create content for social media indeed opens up lots of opportunities to bring creative ideas to the table. This goes starting from planning out what content to publish, to designing eye-catching posts, to crafting interesting captions; and in general just always being open and thinking about new ideas.
- Sharing thoughts and experiences (mine and my fellow students’) — Writing blogs, for me, has been a time to sit down, pause, and think: about interesting things that have happened, about what kind of information students need at this time, or about how can I represent students in the division and share their experiences as well. It is particularly enjoyable for me whenever I get to work on projects together with my classmates in the program such as when I created a fun video about winter break occupations, because I feel like I was able to take a peek at what everyone’s been up to while we weren’t together in class, which I get to share with other readers too.
- Working with other amazing student ambassadors — I have had so much to learn from being around the other 6 talented student ambassadors who each possesses unique skill sets. Although we each have our own ambassador duties, a lot of the tasks inevitably overlap with each other, which allows us to partner with one another and share responsibilities. I consider myself lucky to have found an amazing support system within the recruitment team who are all very supportive and willing to help each other out.
- Enhancing my skills and discovering new ones — Being a student ambassador has given me so much opportunities to create and compile videos which greatly contributed to the improvement of my skills. Before coming to USC, I decided to learn how to edit videos just for fun and started creating short travel vlogs. I’m glad to have been able to utilize this skill, this time for various events around the division. I mean, I still have so much to learn and improve on but I’m definitely better than when I first started! =)) Moreover, since a lot of the ambassador work involves getting in touch with different people, this has helped me, over time, be more comfortable communicating with other people whether personally or through other virtual platforms. Finally, I’ve also learned to do new things such as utilizing and managing different platforms to organize online meetings for info sessions, create RSVP forms, and send out post-event surveys through the help of other student ambassadors who are well-versed when it comes to these matters.
- Challenging my comfort zone — One of my major inhibitions when I was just about to apply for the student ambassador position was that public speaking is not really my strong suit. While up to this date it still isn’t, I have managed to organize and host a couple of international info sessions together with a few guest panelists from different countries. This part of the job is probably what really scared me the most, but I’m glad that I was able to push myself out of my comfort zone, which I believe is a very important first step!
- Improving my time management skills — Given that enrollment in the MA program is full-time, having to work part-time really requires a great deal of time management skills for you to be able to achieve a balance not just between work and school but also leisure! I have learned strategies to spend my time wisely and be more organized in scheduling my work and school tasks. More importantly, I have also learned to ask for help from my team whenever the load gets too much to handle—one thing that our supervisor Kim always reminds us to do, as our well-being should always come first.
- Supporting the admissions team — A few student ambassadors including myself have taken part in certain steps of the admission process. During this time, we have worked closely with Dr. Anvarizadeh, our director of admissions, as well as the whole admissions team, wherein I have witnessed the hard work that they all do to support and advocate for the community. It inspired me to be the change I want to see, as Dr. Anvarizadeh has always reminded us.
- Being able to attend events — One of the fun parts of being a student ambassador is getting to be part of various events in the division! For example, I have provided support for Bianca, our special events program coordinator, in hosting the virtual holiday party for the Chan division last year. I enjoyed facilitating games for the Chan faculty members and staff and seeing them having a fun time while in their holiday outfits.
To wrap everything up, being a student ambassador overall enriches my USC student life experience. It is a great opportunity that I am glad to have taken, albeit my hesitations as a new and international student coming to LA.