University of Southern California
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

OS/OT Student Blog


Reflections of my OT Journey →

Apr 16, 2014, by Kate · Leave a comment

There are 4 weeks and 2 days until our graduation ceremony. I can’t believe my last 2 years at USC is coming to an end. This is the culmination of a 3 year journey for me. I took a year off to take my pre-requisite courses and the GRE, to volunteer and apply to OT programs. And in May, I will walk the stage to receive my diploma. I know I have one more year here to work towards my OT doctorate degree, but it is still mind-boggling that I will have successfully completed the program soon and achieved one of my life’s biggest goals.

It’s times like this when I am able to reflect on what lead me to this position. I remember feeling out of balance and unhappy. I was stuck in a rut where I dreaded waking up in the morning, much less looking at my Blackberry and fearing the red light flashing indicating a new email. I knew I had to change, and I am so glad I took the giant leap into a new career. Navigating my way through pre-requisite courses at local community colleges was intense, not to mention actually taking classes like chemistry and anatomy, subjects that I had not covered since high school. Despite taking the easy route of going back to my old job and what felt familiar, I trudged on. And then I was accepted to USC and my hard work paid off!

As I begin to tie up loose ends here and there, gather my studying materials for our last tests and projects, and gear up for the giant comprehensive exam, I feel nothing but warmth for my 2 years that I’ve spent at USC as a graduate student. I could not have been happier for making the decision to quit my job and dive into something completely new. I have new friends, new skills and new confidence. I am ready to tackle whatever comes my way, and being here at USC has been such a huge part of that.


Boston Strong →

Apr 15, 2014, by Jen · Leave a comment

Today marks one year since the horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon. This morning when I was reading the news, I came across this article: “Boston Bombing Victim’s Defiance One Year On”. This article and video was especially meaningful to me because a victim of the bombing discussed her experience with occupational therapy. In the video, both the victim of the bombing and the occupational therapist discuss their experience working together. This reminded me of why occupational therapy is so important and why I am so happy to be going into this field.

Here is another great article I found: “With A Dream On Hold, Bombing Victim Remains Optimistic”. The occupational therapist in this article provides a great definition of occupational therapy: “Occupation therapy means the little occupations that make up your day — getting to the toilet safely, getting in the bathtub safely, adaptive strategies to get dressed when you can’t quite reach your feet because of pain or other limitations,” Buttiglieri explained. “We teach people how to do their daily living tasks. Get back to their daily routine”.



First Blog: OTSC International Forum 2014 →

Apr 14, 2014, by Samar · Leave a comment

As the countdown to graduation begins (30 days left!), I am thinking a lot of the great moments I had at USC. Moreover, how I don’t want it all to end. What I love most about USC is how there are always opportunities to learn and to be inspired. Just this past Saturday, I attended the International Forum which was organized by the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC). The forum took place at the quaint and charming Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign (a gorgeous place to be in on a Saturday morning). Me and my classmates from the MAI program got to present posters on occupational therapy in each of our countries. I also listened in on presentations by Dr. Cermak, Dr. Frank, and the students panel on their international externship experiences. All of these presentations have posed important questions on the role of occupational therapy on an international level. There were probably two themes that stood out for me from the International Forum. One theme that kept coming up across all the different presentations was the importance of being inventive at finding low-cost and sustainable solutions to facilitate occupational participation of the different populations across the world. The second theme was the ability to consider the broader contexts of human existence such as political and cultural contexts and how might these uniquely influence occupational participation. Being an “international” occupational therapist myself, I feel that the topic of global occupational therapy and occupational justice is close to my heart. So, it felt great to have a forum of discussion on this very important topic. On top of that, I got to enjoy a good part of the day socializing with my favorite OT students. Overall, I feel like this event was such a great mix of learning, socializing and having fun.

This is a picture of me and my classmates minus one (we took the picture with her poster instead!)

International Forum Group


Practicing What I Preach →

Apr 10, 2014, by Kate · Leave a comment

In the past 2 years as a graduate student, I have learned skills I will need as a clinician, including how to use therapeutic communication and different therapeutic modes with different clients. I have learned how to ask the right questions and inquire about my patient’s interests, occupations and goals. I have learned to speak realistically, yet positively, and help people live healthier, happier and more productive lives. As the weeks between now and graduation narrow, and I as take the necessary steps to plan for my future, I ask myself if I am practicing what I preach to others.

How am I speaking to myself? How am I treating myself – my body and my mind? How am I spending my time? Am I devoting time to the occupations I value? Am I treating my friends and family in the same manner in which I would treat one of my patients? I want to change the conversation I am having with myself, especially as I gear up for what might be a stressful transition from graduate school to the “real world.”

This means taking the time and making the effort to exercise, exploring a local farmer’s market, buying myself fresh flowers every week, writing in my gratitude journal, seeing nature by taking a hike, drinking more water, and spending time with my friends that will lift me up and encourage me. Negativity is out the door…. Positivity only! I want to create a balanced life for my patients, and I know that I need to lead by example. Cheers to that!



Apr 2, 2014, by Kate · Leave a comment

First, I’d like to wish everyone a HAPPY OT MONTH! Yes, April is the month that is dedicated to everything occupational therapy. Here at USC, we kicked off the celebrations on Monday with a celebratory picnic right outside of our building. It was a great way to come together as students, clinicians and faculty to relax in the sunshine and eat some pizza. It is USC tradition to create pin-on buttons that we collect and wear throughout the month. We also hand these out to family and friends. It’s exciting because there are new designs every year, as well as more traditional designs. This year we have a panda expressing his love for OT on a button as well as a tyrannosaurus rex with reachers professing his love for the profession. I’ve attached a picture of my stylish button arrangement from Monday’s picnic below!

This weekend is also our professional organization’s annual conference which is being held in Baltimore, Maryland this year. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is a great organization that brings together future students, current students, practitioners and other health care professionals. You can learn more about their mission here: Clarissa, one of my fellow ambassadors, is traveling to the conference and I’m sure she will have a lot of fun updates for everyone.

I’ll be sure to write about some fun activities throughout the month that focus on OT and its awesomeness.

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USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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The USC entry-level master's degree program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education® (ACOTE). ACOTE c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.®, 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449, (301) 652-6611 x2914,

Professional program graduates are eligible to apply for certification by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc.®



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