During my final semester here at USC (and as an undergraduate) I did a considerable amount of reflection on my time at USC. In that reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that carrying over my student club and organization involvement from my time at community college to USC resulted in a time of new growth, relationships, learning, and experience. Even amidst a virtual learning experience, I was able to keep pursuing my goals and forge new connections through involvement and leadership.
A community college is a two-year college where students complete their general education and lower division courses. Students have many options available to them as to where they can obtain an associates degree (two-year lower division degree), professional certificate, or other certification. Or, they can choose to transfer from their community college to a university – which was what I did in 2020. This was during the onset of Covid-19, which greatly impacted my educational experience.
Before the pandemic, I was determined to be involved as much as possible on my community college campus. I joined and led several clubs and student organizations, as well as joining a newly founded faculty committee on civic engagement. In this club, I was able to develop an internship program for student advocates. When the pandemic hit, it was during my last semester at my community college. I remember how faculty were unsure of the future of student clubs and organizations on campus continuing due to the pandemic, yet I was able to continue my involvement in these clubs remotely. I was even able to adjust my proposal for the student advocate internship program to a remote format accordingly. Though I have long been graduated from my community college, I continue to mentor students and work with faculty through this program.
This past year, I have had the chance to refine one of my passions: Occupational Therapy, my undergraduate major. Many individuals are inhibited in fulfilling their occupations (their meaningful daily and personal activities) because of various circumstances—old age, a neurological disorder, mental illness, or even stress accumulated throughout this pandemic. Occupational therapists help these individuals gain as much independence as possible through rehabilitation, lifestyle modifications, and adjustment strategies.
If you’ve never heard of OT, you are not alone! Although it is a growing field, I still find myself explaining it to people I meet, and even to my friends and family members who wonder what exactly it is I study at USC. However, you may have heard of it by a different name depending on where you’re from. “Occupational therapy” can be translated in many ways, but even other English-speaking countries call it something different. I learned in one of my classes last semester that some refer to OT as “ergotherapy.” There are also other models of occupational therapy abroad, such as the Kawa Model developed by OTs in Japan. There is even a World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) that sets standards for international OT practice! The WFOT also advocates for global education, research, and leadership, all of which are important for developing the profession. I also learned about this organization in my coursework this past year, and I’ve been really inspired by the idea of promoting OT internationally. The WFOT even has an annual World Occupational Therapy Day (October 27 if you’re interested!) intended for practitioners in all of the organization’s 105 member countries to raise awareness about and celebrate OT.
According to USA Today, the average college student spends 17 hours per week on homework (studying included); that’s roughly two-and-a-half hours per day. Given that the average student takes between 15 and 20 units per semester, that’s about half an hour on each class. What would you say if I asked you to rank the majors or schools at USC in order of busiest to most free, in terms of scheduling? You’d probably think Architecture, Pre-Med, and/or Engineering would be the most time-consuming for the average student, right? Where would Theatre majors land on your list? Some might put it on the bottom of this hypothetical list but allow me to enlighten you on why it would actually be a contender for the top.
Acting, directing, designing, and managing in the theatrical realm are careers where experience is the foundation of the learning process. Homework for theatre classes involves outside of class rehearsal time (similar to group projects), in addition to regular reading and writing assignments. This classroom experience is vital, but the majority of theatre students seek to enhance their education by participating in plays and musicals at USC: both those produced by the School of Dramatic Arts and Independent Student Productions. Rehearsals for these shows are 6-10pm Monday through Friday and 10am-2pm on Saturday (on average). That’s twenty-four hours of rehearsal on top of pre-existing class and homework. One whole day each week dedicated to gaining experience in one of the least prosperous career paths. Why?
For some, the need to sacrifice a social life for the sake of volunteer-work in the theatre comes from the insecurity of landing a job after graduation: it’s the notion that hard work will eventually pay off. For some, it’s a simple and addictive love: acting, directing, or some other artistic platform in the theatre is merely what provides fulfillment in the college student’s turbulent life. No matter what the reason, once one joins the ensemble of a production, the next few months of his or her life are dedicated to making that work of art happen.