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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Yna’s Blog


10 Things I Like About Being a Student Ambassador >

by Yna

Getting Involved International

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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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

For those of you who might be interested to apply as a student ambassador, you can send an email to my supervisor Kim Kho at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), the deadline to apply is on February 19th at 3:00pm. You can also check out Liz’s blog to know even more about the work as a student ambassador. As always, feel free reach out to me and I will be happy to answer any further questions! 😀


Winter Break Occupations >

by Yna

Diversity International Videos

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Happy 2021 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful time during the holiday season and are feeling well-rested and ready to start this year anew. We are but a few days away from going back to school for the spring semester. And so before we officially embark on this yet another new journey, why don’t we take a moment to look back and see what some of the Post-Professional Master’s students have been up to over the past few weeks of winter break? Check out this short video showing off how everyone spent their holidays with friends and family!

Despite being in this extraordinary circumstance, it’s delightful to witness people finding unique ways to celebrate the season. I can say at least for myself that the break has been restful and rejuvenating, for I’ve had plenty of opportunities to catch up with closest family members as we stayed in and simply spent time with each other.

As all things must come to an end, it is now time to face reality—going back to school! I find it quite difficult to believe that this will already be my final semester before graduating. I know that once we step into the new term, we’re going to be too busy to even take note of the amount of time passing by—at least this was my experience during the last semester. But however daunting this may seem, it is also exciting to think about all the new experiences and learnings that I will be gaining with my amazing classmates and supportive professors as we all go through this common yet unique journey together. I try to remind myself to just enjoy the ride and keep in mind that everything’s going to be alright. Now, it’s time to turn any worry into productive preparation for all the exciting things in store for us this year!


Yna’s Elective Experiences >

by Yna


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One thing that I was most excited about studying at USC Chan is getting to explore the variety of elective courses that they offer. This is certainly a great opportunity to specialize in whatever field of OT you are most interested to pursue. It certainly was not an easy decision for me; and if you find yourself in that same situation, that’s totally okay! I hope this blog will help you as I talk about some highlights of my elective experiences for the fall semester, and why I chose them.

OT573: Hand Rehabilitation

While I was working as an OT in an adult rehabilitation setting in the Philippines, I had a lot of clients with hand-related injuries. It was during this time when I gained a better appreciation of the complexity of the hands and their importance in daily living—which led me to choose to take this course. Through this elective, I gained in-depth knowledge of the anatomy of the hands and upper extremity primarily through the elaborate reading materials alongside supplementary learning activities such as informative videos. Other topics that were covered in this class included wound healing, scar and edema management, digital splinting, and casting, which was done in-person as can be seen in the photos below!

Me and my partner Sammy during digital casting lab class

Me and my partner Sammy during digital casting lab class

Showing off the digital casts we fabricated for each other

Showing off the digital casts we fabricated for each other

I definitely learned a lot from this course but one major takeaway that I will never forget is Lisa Deshaies’ (our professor) motto which she likes to abbreviate as FOFO, which stands for “Fight On For Occupations.”

OT562: Advanced Hand Rehabilitation and Certification (Physical Agent Modalities)

A co-requisite of this course is the OT573 Hand Rehabilitation elective I just discussed above. Now that I have the knowledge that I need about hands and the upper extremity, I decided to further my knowledge on the application of Physical Agent Modalities (PAMs) as a preparatory activity for occupation. Each week, we examined a different modality (i.e. heat, ultrasound, TENS, etc.), discussing each of the modality’s purpose, methods, precautions, contraindications, and application in practice. I gained a lot of insights from my classmates during small group discussions. After taking this class, I feel more adept in writing SOAP notes and engaging in evidence-based practice. Another reason why I chose this elective is because the hours that I earned in class are applicable towards the California Board of OT educational requirements for advanced practice. Our professors, Janice and André prepared us well for this application by training us all on how to properly fill out the advanced practice application form to make sure that we are ready when the time comes.

Me with my classmates Elmo and Erika and our professors Janice (rightmost) and Andre (leftmost)

Me with my classmates Erika and Elmo and our professors Janice (rightmost) and Andre (leftmost)

OT cinco seis seis (OT566): Healthcare Communication with Spanish-Speaking Clients

Besides already having a little bit of background in speaking Spanish, I took this course with the goal of being able to communicate effectively with Spanish speaking clients I may have in the future. Although I may not be able to speak it really fluently yet, I believe the mere fact that you’re making an effort makes a difference in creating a safe space for them, consequently helping in the establishment of client-therapist rapport. The focus of the course is learning Spanish words and phrases within a therapeutic context, so I learned how to speak basic sentences that we usually say during therapy sessions such as when introducing yourself: “Mi nombre es Yna y yo soy su terapeuta ocupacional.” Our professor, Dr. Delgado, provided us with various avenues to practice our skills through group work, practicum, assignments—including one wherein we have to use an app that tracks our progress weekly.


All About That Quarantine Life (Experiences + Study tips) >

by Yna

Classes Life Hacks

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Studying in quarantine is something that none of us has ever done before, so for those of you who are feeling lost, well, you are not alone! As I have mentioned in my previous blog, this has brought me feelings of anxiety too as I was about to take my final exams (which all went pretty well by the way, yay!). As I have spent a whole semester of figuring out how to navigate this new setup (all while trying my best to look like I have it all together…lol), I have picked up a few hacks that some of you may find beneficial:

Develop healthy habits and routines

  • One of the benefits that many of us have found from doing remote learning is getting to skip the extra steps of having to prepare for and travel to school. With classes being held online, you really only have to worry about being presentable from the chest up (because they’re never going to find out if you’re still in your jammies anyway, right?) and traveling from your bed to your study desk right beside it. I am not even going to lie, I enjoyed being able to just roll out of bed and go straight to class whenever I don’t feel like getting up early. While this might have given me extra hours of precious sleep, in the long run, I realized it became an unhealthy habit I had adopted. I started from waking up at least an hour before class, to 30 minutes prior, to 5 minutes before, and there was even a time that I was late because I overslept (a huge shout out to my dear classmates who noticed I was missing and immediately gave me a wakeup call)! I mean, yeah, everyone has those down days when you’re just feeling extra tired and in need of more sleep; but I realized I had overused this benefit to the point that I had been skipping breakfast altogether for consecutive days. Over time, I found my everyday routine drastically changing — eating habits were disrupted and irregular sleeping patterns have developed — ultimately affecting my study habits because the lack of routine often left me feeling all over the place and unable to focus. And so, I really would suggest waking up a little bit earlier before class to give you some time to eat a good breakfast, savor your cup of coffee, take a shower, maybe do some reading on the materials, and really, to just get your mind oriented and ready for class. And honestly, who doesn’t love just getting a moment to yourself at the start of the day? Besides, how you begin your day kind of sets the stage of how the rest of your day is going to look like, so try your best not to start it in such a rush.

Set up your space neatly

  • Not only do you need to set up your mind, you also need to set up your space all ready for work. A cluttered environment = a cluttered mind! I ended up getting a new desk and chair that’s ergonomically correct for my workstation to facilitate proper posture, but this really isn’t a necessity. There are many ways to adapt and work with what you currently have (using pillows for your back, step stool for feet support, etc.) — we as OTs know all about this! I’ve had to experiment a couple times playing with different positioning of my desk that works best for me in relation to lighting, room temperature, and appearance on Zoom background (making sure the space behind me has low traffic to avoid bloopers during class, LOL).

Take breaks

  • I know, you’re probably already tired of hearing this; but truth be told, this new setup has got us sitting in front of our computers for most of the day — without us even realizing it! I admit, I, too, am a victim of this. The advent of technology has advanced the speed of information processing by a ton, that it’s getting harder and harder for us, humans, to keep up. Nevertheless, we still try our best to answer emails as soon as they get to our inboxes, and accomplish any other task that needs to be done “just to get it out of the way,” am I right? The to-do list goes on and the next thing you know, you had already been working for hours straight. And when you finally decide to take a minute to pause, that’s when you’re going to feel them all at once — strained eyes, pain from the neck all the way to your lower back, hungry stomach, tired arms and fingers from hours of typing with poor posture. This is why I really appreciate our professors who sees to it that they allot some time during the class to give us multiple breaks as our chance to stretch, hydrate, go to the restroom, or grab something to eat (to be honest, sometimes I even take a nap — just make sure you wake up in time!). You can also set up your own physical activity reminders at different points throughout the day using your smartphone or watch.

Get physical!

  • In relation to my previous tip, I found it helpful to incorporate exercise in my weekly routine as my form of physical activity to battle this increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Of course, it’s not like I just woke up one day deciding to start working out and then consistently did it. New routines take time to develop, so don’t be too hard on yourself! You really don’t want this to be another source of pressure for you aside from other responsibilities that you already have. What definitely helped me get motivated and stick to the schedule was doing it with my friends, who also happened to be in the same program as mine — leaving us with pretty much similar class schedules and free time to exercise.
  • MA1 students working out together over Zoom

    Our post-workout photo (Left to right: myself, Erika, Jenn, and Elmo)

Study in groups

  • Since we’ve already set up workout sessions, might as well extend it to study sessions with friends too! I know, you’re practically already in Zoom most of the day for classes so you might ask: why choose to add more hours on the screen? Well, for me, seeing other people (albeit virtually) so focused on studying gives me the boost to do my own studying too. Basically, one of us sets up a meeting and keeps it open for several hours where people are free to come and go. This gives everyone a little bit of flexibility since we all have other responsibilities in our own busy lives. As a bonus, if we do a great job focusing for a couple hours, we reward ourselves with a few minutes to chill and casually talk with each other (someone’s gotta be responsible in making sure we go back to studying, though!)
  • MA1 students having a study session over Zoom

    Some of the students in the Post-Professional Master’s program studying for our final exams. Credits to Elmo for the photo, and also for setting up the Zoom meetings for the class!

In addition to these, you can also check out Savi’s blog and find some tips on staying organized! I hope you find these useful for your own studying, especially those who will be taking their comprehensive exams next month. You got this! Best of luck to you all, and Fight On!


You didn’t come this far to only come this far >

by Yna

Life Hacks

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It’s Friday! Should I dare say “TGIF” when I’ll be facing final exams next week? Probably not! It’s incredibly hard to believe that we’re only a week away before the fall semester comes to a close. It’s been roughly a 3-month long semester of online classes, asynchronous lectures, countless readings, presentations, and assignments. I was so caught up in juggling all these requirements for weeks on end (plus a part-time job as a student ambassador on top of it all), that they all just seemed endless—and yet here I am, already working on completing all the final requirements for the courses I enrolled myself in. As I try to let this reality sink in, various mixed feelings inevitably surface.

Do I feel ready for the finals? Did I really learn everything that I needed to in class? To be honest, I have spent the last few weeks feeling anxious about this upcoming exam week. I had always been this very organized person who likes to stay on top of things; however, the rigorous workload oftentimes just left me feeling overwhelmed. Adding to this are feelings of loss of control brought about by the myriad of things happening in the outside world that I cannot simply detach myself from, despite just being cooped up in my room practically all day.

Somehow, I managed to pull through one day, week, and month after the other; that I had barely noticed the time swiftly passing by. As I was starting to prepare myself to study for the exams, sifting through all the course materials, I couldn’t help but question myself if I had really absorbed a whole semester’s worth of learning (I guess we’ll find out in a week or so, right? Stay tuned for my next entry!).

A little reassurance for myself (and anyone of you who needs it) would have to do for now: you didn’t come this far to only come this far! I personally find it helpful when I remind myself of the time I was in this same fearful state as I was just about to enter the program a couple months ago: being a new immigrant to this country, struggling to find a support system, adjusting to the remote learning setup—all while having to deal with problems concerning personal relationships. It wasn’t exactly the ideal way to start the semester; nevertheless, here I am, halfway done through the program!

This is not to say that I made it here all on my own, though. My ever-supportive family, my very encouraging professors who are always willing to support their students in any way, my MA1 classmates whom I constantly meet with virtually whether it’s to create reviewers together or simply hang out, and the amazing friends I met at USC Chan along the way—all have brought me here. I encourage everyone to draw strength from your support systems, most especially when the going gets tough.

Good luck to all those students taking their final exams next week! As always, Fight On!

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