University of Southern California
Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

OS/OT Student Blog


The end is also a beginning →

May 24, 2014, by Rob · 1 comment

Four years ago, I was a fishing reporter living in Arkansas. That version of myself would never recognize the me I have become. My life has forever changed, and I have been enriched by the imprint these two years have made on my life.

I learned how to open myself to life and the people that come into it, forming friendships I hope will last a lifetime.

We get silly for photo booth at End of Year party.

I learned a lot about disability – in a sense, we are all disabled in some way or another – is there even such a thing as normal? I learned how to define occupational therapy. I did it so many times, I will probably have a dream where someone asks me “Does OT mean ‘overtime’?” And then I spend the next five minutes explaining what occupational therapy is. I’m not even kidding. This is going to happen.

I imagine coming to OT school at USC is kind of like going to school at Hogwarts, minus the wands, flying brooms and Argus Filch, of course. There is something special about being selected to the top program in the country and then spending two years getting to know every little nuance of the buildings, professors, and classmates that occupy the space with you. It’s like life stands still for two years – a period of shelter from the world of work, adulthood, and responsibility. Those things still exist in graduate school, of course, but they are different somehow – more temporal in nature.

For those about to begin the journey into the depths of the occupational therapy profession, good luck to you. For those that still dream about that journey, keep working towards it. What lies in the hallowed halls of USC’s Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy is worth everything you put into it.

Fight on!

Students gather for graduation pictures at USC's Commencement 2014


Graduation and Gratitude →

May 18, 2014, by Clarissa · Leave a comment

Graduation happened! The ceremony was beautiful and the featured speaker this year was Elizabeth Yerxa – a legend in OT.  I read her work and watched videos of her speeches! Of course, her speech was wonderfully inspirational.

The best thing about graduation, though, is sharing it with those who helped me reach my dreams. Pictured here is a book of messages and pictures my sister collected from my family and friends.  I’m humbled by all the selfless love and support that surrounds me. 

Here’s my family – without them, I’d be nowhere near where I am now.  From doing my laundry to advising me on big life decisions to dealing with my short fuse during stressful times, they’ve been there.  I owe them absolutely everything. 

My friends light up my life.  My home, college friends, and post-college friends were there through my quarter life crisis before I found OT.  Our friendships never faltered, no matter how little I saw them through busy grad school.  There are also my closest grad school friends who got me through all-weekend study marathons, who shared in life-changing travel experiences with me (see post about Ghana), and who support all my grad school endeavors, whether it is attending the socials I plan or debriefing challenging clinical experiences with me.  I know we’ll be lifelong friends. 

My absolute favorite thing about the program is the people. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of the Class of 2014 – every person in my class is selfless, warm, motivated, and supportive.  My wonderful classmates made every single day in class something to look forward to. Because I have these amazing people to look up to, I am closer to the person I want to become. Whether it is developing rapport with patients or leading advocacy efforts for OT, I’ve learned from them all.  They will make such a positive impact on so many people and I am proud to call them my colleagues and friends.

We did it!


Ode to Ambassadors (and Kim) Part II →

May 14, 2014, by Clarissa · Leave a comment

I have loved being a student ambassador this year and am so grateful I had this amazing opportunity.  When I was a prospective student, I attended an admissions info session and met a previous student ambassador.  I decided right then and there that I wanted to be just like him, mentoring prospective students and marketing a profession I truly believe in. 

Lo and behold, my dream came true! I still remember when my supervisor Kim Kelton called me and offered me the student ambassador position.  I was ELATED.

Working with the ambassadors and Kim this year has been such a valuable experience.  I learned so much from my tasks on the job – I have better public speaking abilities, more self-confidence, and an increased passion for advocating for OT.  I also learned a lot from my incredible team. 

My fellow student ambassador Rob previously wrote an Ode to Ambassadors blog post and this post is the highly anticipated sequel!

I’ll start with Rob, who has taught me to let go.  From him, I’ve learned that issues giving me nervous breakdowns – I’m a worrywart if you can’t tell – don’t matter as much as I think they do in the moment.  He’s also taught me to add a bit of fun to everything.  Here’s a picture of him sleeping under our supervisor’s desk, which him, our fellow student ambassador Kate, and I decorated with pictures of the ambassador team.  I love our shenanigans!

Next is Kate, who is wonderfully sassy and confident.  Whenever I feel doubtful about my ability to manage a situation, I pretend I’m Kate.  She’s also taught me to be more vocal about my opinions.  Kate is so versatile – she can be professional Kate to roll-around-in-grass-with-kids-in-Ghana Kate.  Here’s a picture of us together on our Ghana trip.

Ryan is simply a ray of sunshine.  No matter how difficult her life situations are or how badly her stomach hurts during ambassador meetings, she radiates positivity.  From her, I’ve learned to hone in on silver linings. She also has some incredible dance moves.

I’ve worked with Jen closely in the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC) as well as as an ambassador!  Jen is the co-chair of OTSC and I’m the social chair, so I know she’s great at running meetings and effectively delegating tasks.  I tend to put a lot of weight on my own shoulders because I’m a perfectionist. I’ve learned from Jen and, by the end of the year, ran meetings and delegated tasks for the End of the Year Party (see this blog post) committee! Here’s me and Jen – with some photobombers – at a tailgate at the very beginning of the year. 

Last but not least, we have our esteemed leader Kim Kelton.  She’s so great with balancing building rapport with us and being our supervisor.  She’s so young, yet so accomplished! I’m always in awe at her efficiency, dedication, and eloquence.  Thanks for being our role model, Kim, and for making our professional development your priority.  As you can see in this picture, we love you!


Such Great Heights →

May 14, 2014, by Clarissa · Leave a comment

The end of the year celebration, themed Such Great Heights, was this past Saturday! As you know, I’m the social chair of the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC) and, this year, I was responsible for spearheading our huge year-end party.  It was a long process and big team effort – I started all the way back in December and the historians of OTSC even made a promotional video for it!  We had a ton of fun filming the promotional video, which I starred in!  My favorite part is where my friend Jon uses the reacher to put on his jacket—love nerdy OT jokes.

I heard that everyone had such a great time!  It was at the Bonaventure Brewing Company in the Westin Hotel, which is in downtown LA.  It was on a rooftop, hence the Such Great Heights theme, so there was an outdoor patio area for people to chat and a DJ indoors.  It was such a beautiful venue! Here’s a picture with me and some OT friends in the outdoor patio area. 

There were about 200 attendees, which included students, faculty, and staff members.  It was so great celebrating our achievements with the wonderful people that my fellow OTs are.  Hanging out with the staff/faculty and their significant others was also really cool.  Food, open bar, good company, a slideshow, and a photobooth – what more could we ask for in a party?!

Here are my fellow student ambassadors with our incredible supervisor Kim!  The photobooth picture is on the bottom, juxtaposed with a picture we took at the beginning of the year.  This was a crazy fun group to work with all throughout the year!

By the way, Rob is floating head because he wore a green shirt (on purpose) and there was a green screen – he did it by accident at the photobooth last year and decided to continue the tradition this year.

The party was infinitely fun because I was surrounded by people I look up to and love.  These 2 years flew by and I’m so lucky to have had both educationally rich and fun experiences.  I was definitely getting choked up during the OTSC 2014 Slideshow.

Earning my Master’s here at USC was an unforgettable experience and one that I will treasure always. 


OMG!!! →

May 13, 2014, by Ryan · Leave a comment

I cannot believe this is my last blog, the last time I will work in the office, the last time I will be an OT graduate student here at USC. I dreamed about this moment for a long time so it feels very surreal. I have to say, it has all been worth it. Being a student ambassador, I have been reminded of what it was like to apply and be stressed about where to go, the cost, etc. Deciding to go to USC was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I have had such a great class to be inspired and loved by. I have made the most wonderful and supportive life-long friends. I adore the faculty and am so impressed by them every class, each semester. I feel that I am a completely different person coming out of this program than when I entered. I will miss these hallways and saying hello to everyone I see. I am going to miss the routine of having lunch on the patio chatting with my friends. I am going to miss that feeling of growing and inspiration throughout my classes. I am so grateful for this opportunity and for anyone who is applying or about to enter the program, you are in for an amazing and wonderful ride!

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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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