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.


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.


Externship + Spring Break →

Mar 26, 2014, by Kate · Leave a comment

It’s been a whirlwind in my life the past 3 weeks. I went on my externship to Ghana (alongside 35 other OT students and fellow ambassador Clarissa) and then I spent 3 days in Berlin, Germany with one of my good friends from the OT program. My jet lag has not gone away, I must admit, and I am still confused as to when I should be hungry and when I should be tired. All in all, it was an amazing time away from school and I wish I could do a video blog to tell you all about it and share pictures and videos. I will try my best to be succinct yet thorough!

In Ghana, we stayed at the Mephibosheth Training Center in Appam, about 2 hours outside of the capital city of Accra. MTC is a boarding school for children with disabilities that come from all across Ghana, some as far as 9 hours away. About 53 children, ranging from about 5-23 years old, with physical and mental challenges, live at MTC and go to school. It is a true honor for these children to attend school because Ghanaians have traditional beliefs that disabilities stem from a curse on the family or the individual. Although this mindset is changing in the country, it is an ongoing process. Our group of USC OT students came to MTC to play and love on the kids, as well as perform 3 sets of vocational activities with them to note their skill and interest level in sewing, woodworking and leatherworking. We made a game of cornhole with bean bags and leather bracelets. It was truly amazing to spend time with these children!

We also had the opportunity to meet with OT students from the University of Ghana. They will be graduating their first class of 19 students this year, and it was really neat to share our knowledge and love of OT with them. Our group was also assigned to pair up with students from the University of Winneba in the Community-Based Rehabilitation Worker program. These students go out into the communities, find individuals with disabilities and refer them to sources. Many of the students/CBR workers are placed in schools. I was able to shadow a student placed at a primary school in a classroom of 14-16 year-old girls. They loved me and I loved them. It was magical to be surrounded by such joy.

I had the chance to relax in Berlin, where I toured the city with my friend Mona. We got on one of the hop-on, hop-off, double-decker tour buses for two days. This was the perfect choice because we were able to see all of the sites, get the history and have someone else drive! We ate pretzels, schnitzel, spaetzel and yes, drank a lot of beer. It was fun to visit such a cosmopolitan city! I was pretty happy to come home, however, despite the crazy time difference and my loads of homework due this week!!

Speaking of homework, I think I’ll get back to it…. Stay tuned for more exciting developments as my fellow ambassadors and I wrap up our last 5 weeks of our grad school careers!!

Here’s a picture of one of the kiddos at MTC in Ghana and some pretzels in Germany. smile


FAQs →

Feb 26, 2014, by Kate · Leave a comment

As more and more students are admitted for the upcoming school year (which begins in June), I am fortunate to be in contact with more and more of them. I feel so lucky to be in the position to connect with the newcomers in our program, the class of 2016, and share my experiences and knowledge with them. I’ve received many questions about housing. “Where should I live?” is a big question I get almost on a daily basis. I always reply with the same answer – it depends on what you’re looking for! That’s one of the best things about Los Angeles: there are many neighborhoods that offer a variety of different things. My classmates live all over the greater Los Angeles area, some as far as Orange County! Many people look for a shorter commute than that, and so Pasadena is a great option. Some people like to be closer to the beach areas, so they look into Brentwood or Santa Monica. It really all depends on what is important to you in a place to live; the best thing is that Los Angeles offers a lot.

Another question I have been receiving frequently is about student life. “What is student life really like?” people have asked. I mention my blogs and those of my fellow ambassadors and I hope prospective students have read our posts. We are 5 very different individuals whose interests and tastes differ. I hope that these blogs give readers a diverse perspective on what it is truly like to be a student in the program, and that the readers can identify with one or some of us. In my opinion, student life is great! I make sure that I have balance in my life, meaning equal time commitments to work/productivity, leisure, rest and self-care. I make time for friends and I make time for my studies. I make time for myself with an hour spent at the gym and an hour each night reading a book for fun. I stay updated on my favorite TV shows (Real Housewives on Bravo). I have two internships this spring and I work as an ambassador representing the Division. I love my life and I’m a really happy graduate student. Of course, there are stressors; but with preparation and dedication, I stick to my routine in how to combat them. There are things I wish I could make more time for (I’d love to cook more!!); but I know that will come. I take things week-by-week and try to not sweat the small stuff.

I hope I have given you a glance into my life as a student and my thoughts about where to live in Los Angeles. Life isn’t shabby as a USC student.

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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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