In order to share why I chose USC, I must first explain why I decided to pursue occupational therapy. Though it has many different definitions, I have defined OT as beautiful disruptions. It goes without saying that life is not perfect 100 percent of the time. Whether it’s anxiety from taking a test to recovering from a major life surgery, we are consistently met with disruptions along the way. Sometimes these disruptions halt our daily life or routines of self care. Other disruptions can take away our sense of identity, competency and purpose. I strongly believe that occupational therapists meet clients where they are to guide them through such disruptions, transforming them into something beautiful, purposeful and meaningful.

I had my eyes set on the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy from day one. When denied undergraduate admission, I was heartbroken. But looking back now, I can confidently say that the journey I had during my undergraduate years on the East Coast prepared me for graduate school here at USC. Four years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the USC Chan Division. I got to know the admissions team and even got a personal tour of the facility from an inspiring faculty member, Sharon Cermak, EdD, OTR/L, professor in the USC Chan Division with a joint appointment at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. I was fascinated to see not only the ergonomic chairs but also the kitchen, bed and hospital settings installed within the school to facilitate our learning and theoretical framings within these contexts.

Moreover, when the time came to decide which graduate program to attend, it fell upon three important factors: diversity, opportunity and loyalty. Taking a quick look through the faculty website can tell you that diversity is praised at USC. Seeing people of similar Asian backgrounds in administrative positions instilled within me comfort that culture and differences are celebrated here. Secondly, I have heard about the amazing opportunities USC can offer me including fieldwork placements, extracurricular activities and electives. I am a firm believer that learning does not occur only within the classroom but also outside of it. Labeling my engagement with the USC Student Run Clinic as amazing would simply be an understatement. Working within an interdisciplinary team enhanced my communication and advocacy skills both with other students and with patients. I also heard the stories and struggles that residents of Skid Row experienced, giving me a glimpse of what their daily routines and health situations are like. Lastly, I felt the strong loyalty within the Trojan Family. It was a bit overwhelming at first, since all the administrators consistently signed off with “Fight On!” But as I reached out to alumni and current students in the program, I got a sense of the close-knit community at this school. I felt taken care of, understood and loved.

USC aligned with my professional and academic aspirations. It provided me the opportunity to engage with my community and peers. It astounded me with its strong family orientation. Last of all, the sun and warm weather was something I just couldn’t say no to.

— Joyce Yoo is a member of the master of arts entry level program class of 2019 at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.