University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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About Us

About Us

Meet Our Trojan Family

Naoya Nick Ogura, MA II ‘16

Naoya Nick Ogura, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Mountain View/Tokyo

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I initially learned about occupational therapy in undergrad, when a good friend of mine who was attending OT school at the time mentioned that I would be a good fit for the profession. I didn’t think of it much then, but I came across OT again as I was exploring career paths after graduation. I decided there was no harm in giving it a try, so I volunteered at a few sites. The more I learned about the profession, the more I was sold on the concept of using meaningful activities as a medium for wellness promotion - that’s how I fell into this program!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
The most important occupation that has shaped and defined me is dance. I started hip hop almost on a whim back in high school, and haven’t stopped since. It has taught me more than just movement - dance allowed me to grow as a person and as a leader, and brought phenomenal people into my life. I was introduced to OT through a dance friend, so I guess dance led to finding OT too!

I also have many “someday maybe” occupations lined up… including getting better at surfing, playing the ukulele, learning the saxophone, woodworking, and pottery. There never seems to be enough time to do all the things I want to do.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
I’ve created so many great memories with my friends in this program, so it’s definitely hard to just pick one - but if I had to choose, it’ll be Memorial Day during my first Level II fieldwork in Hawaii, at the Lantern Floating Festival. Friends and families decorated lanterns with messages for their loved ones, which were then released to the ocean. We saw thousands of these lights drifting towards the horizon as the sun set behind the mountains. Words really can’t do it justice. The air was thick with emotions, and I can still feel the serenity that engulfed that night. It made me appreciate how occupational therapy allows me to spend my time on this planet helping other people, alongside colleagues who are patient, loving, and just plain awesome!

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Elon Musk! So he can take me to the moon!!! Does that count as mentorship?

How do you want to be remembered?
As a patient, loving, non-judgmental person!

Becca Massip, MA II ‘17

Becca Massip, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Mission Viejo, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I love helping others change to be the best they can be and OT does exactly this from a holistic lens. OTs help people do the things that are meaningful to them and I find this to be extremely rewarding for both the therapist and client.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I played soccer in college so it is by far my favorite occupation! Now I enjoy running and surfing (not well might I add) smile

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far
There are so many great experiences I could talk about but one of my favorites was when the class cooked breakfast during our Adult Rehabilitation lab. We used adaptive equipment and made some pretty delicious treats! Nothing like having chocolate chip pancakes and muffins in class first thing in the morning!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Kimchi!!!!!! I discovered it about a year ago and have been hooked ever since.

What is your spirit animal and why would this animal represent you?
I took a quiz. I am a wolf!!!! From http://www.jerismithready.com/quiz/:
“Family comes first” could be a Wolf’s motto. You form deep connections with close friends and family members, and they know you’d do anything to protect them. You’re loyal, devoted, and passionate. Your worst fear is being alone, but be careful not to drown your loved ones in too much emotion.”
Shout out to swans, otter, and crows!!....we are best matches haha smile

Vicky Alvarez, MA II ‘16

Vicky Alvarez, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: San Jose, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
After suffering an injury in college, I had to do physical therapy for a few weeks. My sessions took place in a therapy gym, shared with other clients. On my first session, I remember being intrigued by what the therapist and client near me were doing in the kitchen area. I asked my PT about it and she said, “She’s an OT, and she’s helping the client cook.” My immediate thought was, “Cooking in therapy?! That’s awesome!” I started doing more research on OT, and it didn’t take long for me to know it was the profession for me. 

What area of practice are you interested in?
Pediatrics and Adult Rehab

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
Dance is my preferred occupation. When I can, I like to take modern/contemporary and ballet classes in different studios in LA. It is such a great work out and it just makes me feel great mentally, physically, and emotionally. I also enjoy hiking, yoga, traveling, and trying out new food places.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Milk, Greek yogurt, almond butter, eggs, fruit, Trader Joe’s salads, and left over meals.

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
The airplane; it makes visiting far-away loved ones and exploring the world so much easier.

Lauren Santana, MA ‘16

Lauren Santana, MA ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Orange County, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
After college, I had a series of jobs in different fields. Once I became a yoga instructor, I realized how much I enjoyed interacting with people and working through their injuries and other health concerns. I researched different health careers and occupational therapy was the perfect combination of my interests in the creative and medical related fields. I started to work on my prerequisites, got a job in a related field, applied to OT schools, and now here I am!

What area of practice are you interested in?
Adult Rehab

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
Yoga, binge watching Netflix, baking cupcakes from the box, and sleeping excessively on the weekends.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Trader Joe salads, wilting celery, half eaten avocados, expired eggs, and super spicy hummus

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
Since my internal GPS has always been on the fritz, navigation on my phone has been a game changer.

Kezia Rusli, MA II ‘16

Kezia Rusli, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga

What brought you to OT?
I heard about OT after going on a mission trip the summer after my sophomore year, which is when I made a career decision change. I was fortunate enough to be at USC for undergrad, where OT is really big. So I was able to take some OT classes and talk to some professors about it, and I fell in love with it. I love learning about people and what they like to do, so to discover a career where you do just that was super awesome.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
As most of my friends know my favorite occupation of all time is playing board games! I like playing most, but my favorite of all is Ticket to Ride. I also like to play sports, go running, bake, watch TV, and lie in my bed smile
Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far. There are lots, but one would definitely have to be in Peds when we met adaptive equipment using cardboard boxes and foam lining. It was super cool to see how inventive we could be with such inexpensive household objects!

If we opened your fridge, what would you see?
Milk & yogurt (for overnight oats with strawberries in the freezer), food from my mom (she always brings me food yay!), spinach & kale (for salad & kale chips, my favorite!)

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
It’s hard to choose just one, but the nerdy side of me says Excel is one of the greatest inventions ever. What could be much better than a program that organizes your life?

Lily Ito, MA II ‘16

Lily Ito, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Torrance, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
In high school, I had the chance to work with a child with autism at my church. Since I enjoyed working with him so much, I started looking into careers that would allow me to work with kids with special needs. I knew about occupational therapy (since my older sister was in OT school at the time), and I liked it when I had the chance to observe at some pediatric clinics. My interests have shifted a bit since then, but one of the awesome things about OT—among many others—is that you can choose to work almost wherever you like because it’s so broad!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I love, LOVE going to Disneyland, and adore everything Disney. I also enjoy photography, solving riddles, guessing everyone’s Myers Briggs personality type, reading books in bed, and trying different flavors of ice cream.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
One of my favorite memories was coordinating outfits with my group on Wednesday theme days while we were in the mental health immersion. We had an autumn theme, a denim theme, a mint theme (we even had mint Oreos!), a rainbow theme, and a “On Wednesdays we wear pink” theme. 

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Boxes and boxes of leftovers and all different types of juice from Trader Joe’s.

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
Whoever invented screws was a genius!

Stephanie Tsai, MA II ‘16

Stephanie Tsai, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Irvine, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I always knew I wanted to help people, but the tricky thing was figuring out how I would be able to do so. After I finished my bachelor’s degree and realizing I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I stumbled across OT by taking one of those online match-your-personality-to-your-future-career! surveys and I remember thinking, “what in the world is Occupational Therapy?” The more I looked into it, though, the more excited I became. Occupational Therapists use a wide variety of skills to help people live their lives in ways that are meaningful to them.  As someone who loves to build relationships with others and is eager to help someone in any way I can, Occupational Therapy was a perfect fit for me!

What area of practice are you interested in?
To be honest, I have been trying to answer this question ever since I started the program! I am mostly interested in Pediatrics or Adult Rehabilitation, but I have found that my interests keep changing every semester. One of the great things about OT is how flexible it is: I can practice in one area for a while, but then switch later on!

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
I really love the people in this program. Everyone is so supportive of one another and really cares about each other’s success and well-being. Every day in this program is memorable when you are surrounded by amazing people.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Peyton Manning (Quarterback for the Denver Broncos)

Karen Park, MA II ‘17

Karen Park, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Los Angeles

What brought you to occupational therapy?
After working for almost 10 years in a private corporation and federal court system, I wanted to find my “vocation” — my life’s calling.  After much research, I chose occupational therapy, because it matches my interests and talents, as well as helps people in meaningful and impactful ways.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Mental Health, Gerontology

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
I was an Executive Assistant to the company president and a courtroom deputy clerk (similar to office manager) for federal judges.

What is your spirit animal and why would this animal represent you?
Golden Retriever or Labrador Retriever Puppy

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Emmet Fox (author and minister)

Amy Brown, MA II ‘17

Amy Brown, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Williamsburg, Ohio

What brought you to Occupational therapy?
To be honest, sports. I have been an athlete for about 18 years and have had my fair share of OTs and PTs. However, sports were not my only push toward OT. I also have a cousin that is on the Autism spectrum and works with an OT at school. All of these experiences contributed to my realization that OT fits into my very nature. I love to tinker and fix things and there is nothing better than a challenge. OT offers me endless challenges and endless opportunities to problem-solve.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Adult rehab is my area of choice. I came in thinking I would go down that path and that decision does not seem to be changing. I also have a real interest in hand therapy and have some experience working with a hand therapist. With my sports background this may seem logical, and I suppose it is. However, I really do have a love of anatomy and how things fit together to function. Rehab and hands affords me ample opportunities to put that love into practice.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
Sports! (There seems to be a theme here). But outside of sports, I love to travel. I have been overseas many times and never miss an opportunity to go somewhere I have never been before. I also really enjoy drawing and painting. I have been doing sketches since I was a child, but just recently got into painting. Working with a different medium is difficult sometimes and the process is different, but the rewards can be beyond amazing. I also like to travel around with friends and try out new restaurants. Food was a big part of my life growing up and I like to eat food from many different cultures.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Chicken, salad, jalapenos, milk, and chocolate. Yes, I put my chocolate in the fridge. Why, you may ask? Because I am from Ohio and if you don’t have AC and it is not winter, your chocolate will melt. Old habits die hard.

What is your spirit animal, and why would this animal represent you?
A dolphin. I love the water and take every opportunity to be in it. I also like to be around people, especially those I am close to. I am not always a very verbal person, but as those who are close to me know, my face is often an open book.

Breanna Howell, MA II ‘17

Breanna Howell, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Lakewood Ranch, Florida

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I had a professor in undergrad who kept mentioning that occupational therapy was something I would probably love. Over the years I kept politely agreeing without looking into it. Then, I spent a summer working at a camp for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and had the opportunity to see OTs at work. I promptly fell in love. I want to be part of the profession that uses shaving cream and a ball pit regularly in therapy but also has the knowledge and understanding to explain why it is so incredibly valuable.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
One of my favorite occupations is going on adventures. Almost everything I do I consider an adventure. I love big adventures, like going to the Clearwater Aquarium in FL for my birthday last year to see Winter, the dolphin with the prosthetic tail. I also love the little adventures with friends spent hiking, grabbing dinner, exploring the Santa Monica Pier, or baking brownies and eating them out of the pan together as we chat about life. Anything can be considered an adventure with the right mindset, and it makes everything more fun!

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
I can’t pick just one… My top two memories are walking across the stage at the white coat ceremony and cheering for the athletes at the Special Olympics World Games with fellow OT students.

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
The swimming pool. It is an invention that both brings people together and can strengthen an individual. For all ages, joining a swim team teaches commitment and teamwork, while also providing exercise. At summer camp and in communities it is a common area where friendships are made and imaginative play thrives. It is a relaxing location to unwind after a long day, as the calming water soothes you and gives gentle resistance for therapeutic exercise. The swimming pool is an invention that provides many benefits and changes lives. 

How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone who made others feel valued. I want for others to know their presence in my life mattered and that they are very important. I also hope to make small changes in many lives that impact their future in incredible ways.

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