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

Carolyn Meyer, MA II ‘16

Carolyn Meyer, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Upland, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I was graduating from undergrad not knowing exactly what my next steps were going to be when a good family friend kept persisting I come visit her at work. All I knew was that she loved her job and worked with kids! After visiting her for one day at her OT outpatient pediatric clinic, I was in love! I was interested in both physical rehabilitation and mental health so occupational therapy was/is perfect!

What area of practice are you interested in?
Pediatrics! I’m specifically interested in combining my knowledge and passion for gymnastics with children with developmental disabilities.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
One of my favorite memories from the program is the opportunity I had to complete my Leadership Externship at Chiang Mai University in Thailand! I spent two weeks working with CMU’s Occupational Therapy Program and got to learn and see what occupational therapy looks like in a variety of clinical settings in Thailand. I also loved getting to exchange information with the students and professors at the university. It was an incredible and eye opening experience!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
AVOCADOS!

How do you want to be remembered?
I believe one of my favorite quotes answers this question well, “I want to inspire people. I want someone to look at me and say, ‘Because of you I didn’t give up’”

Elizabeth Franco, OTD ‘16, MA ‘15

Elizabeth Franco, OTD ‘16, MA ‘15

OTD

Track: Clinical Research

Why did you choose to pursue the OTD?
I embarked on the USC Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program because I believe that the intersection between translational research and occupational therapy can improve the lives of individuals by providing the necessary knowledge to optimize occupational therapy interventions. In the master’s program, my curiosity for research led me to work with two prominent researchers within the division, Dr. Barbara Thompson and Dr. Erna Blanche. As a volunteer research assistant for two years, I explored my interest in sensory integration intervention (SI) for populations with neurodevelopmental disorders and this prompted me to continue my journey in clinical research through the OTD. My long-term goal is to become an occupational therapist who can apply and advance clinical research in the assessment and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Where are you located for your residency and what do you do there?
I am currently an OTD resident in Dr. Barbara Thompson’s Social and Emotional Neurodevelopmental lab at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. My main focus has been on a research project investigating the effects of sensory integration intervention (SI) in children with autism spectrum disorders.  Under the mentorship of both Dr. Thompson and Dr. Blanche, I have creatively merged neuroscience techniques with clinical research, to document changes in behaviors during SI. Additionally, I am performing detailed data analysis. Under my leadership goals, I am training research assistants for using these behavioral coding techniques and establishing rapport with OT clinics delivering SI.  I have had the opportunity to present our research at both OTAC and AOTA.

What did you gain from the OTD thus far?
As a doctoral resident, I see myself as embodying both researcher and clinician to inform occupational science and occupational therapy. The OTD has provided opportunities for mentorship, networking, and presenting that have helped me hone my leadership skills. Through my involvement in translational research, I am at the epicenter of furthering both my understanding of SI, but also the scientific and clinical comprehension of SI. As a result of these opportunities, I will continue to provide my expertise and extensive research knowledge to advance the occupational therapy profession.

Kaitlyn Trimarchi, MA II ‘16

Kaitlyn Trimarchi, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Glendora, California

What brought you to OT?
Growing up, my mom was a special education teacher at a local elementary school. I loved volunteering in her classroom and working with all her kids. When I started high school, my mom suggested that I shadow with the occupational therapist in her district. I immediately clicked with OT and had such a great time seeing what they do in the school system and how they can really make a difference.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Pediatrics, particularly early intervention and sensory integration.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far
As part of my leadership externship I traveled with 12 of my fellow students to Ghana, West Africa. Here, we worked alongside a group of occupational therapists, physical therapists and teachers with a group of students at a boarding school specially designed for children with a variety of disabilities. I immediately fell in love with the students and learned so much about how occupational therapy can serve this population while paying special attention to their unique culture and attitudes about disability. I can’t wait to go back!

What is your spirit animal and why would this animal represent you?
My spirit animal is definitely a Welsh Corgi. A proud owner of one myself, corgis are very fun loving and enjoy being around other people. They always put a smile on my face!

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Oprah! She’s so encouraging and inspires everyone to do their best!

Ian Murray, MA II ‘16

Ian Murray, MA II ‘16

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Let’s just say New York, Atlanta, and Berkeley CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
As a life long martial artist it was always my ambition to pursue a career inspiring others to take control of their health and well being. I was exposed to occupational therapy through my Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu students who included a man with athetoid cerebral palsy, and children with developmental and learning disabilities. When I did the research into what occupational therapy was, it’s theory and practices really spoke to me.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
After undergrad I spent time traveling and competing as a sponsored mixed martial artist and worked as an instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
During my Level II fieldwork at a skilled nursing facility I watched a patient who was recovering from Guillain-Barré walk to his son’s car after 9 months of recovery.

What is your spirit animal and why would this animal represent you?
A two-toed sloth, because they have maximum efficiency with minimal effort. And two toed because they are cuter than three-toed sloths.

How do you want to be remembered?
I would like to be remembered as someone kind and strong, compassionate and daring, a seeker of truth who found peace in reality.

Kaitlin O’Hara, MA II ‘17

Kaitlin O’Hara, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Laguna Hills, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
My fall semester sophomore year at USC, I realized on the last day to add and drop classes that I was enrolled in the wrong accounting course for my Business minor. I frantically switched out of the class and into the only course I could find open: Kate Crowley’s “Introduction to Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.” I loved the class and learning what OT was all about while also discovering that I wasn’t really passionate about my current major. I decided that semester that OT was the field for me; it was quite serendipitous!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
My favorite occupations are those in which I am active! I enjoy long distance running with friends from the program. I am also a swimming Assistant Coach for Special Olympics Pasadena, where I work with some amazingly talented and vibrant athletes. Additionally, I enjoy reading non-fiction and traveling around the country to visit my friends from undergrad (when I have time!).

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
I think my favorite part of the program so far was the eight-week summer session, fondly referred to as “OT Camp.” The professors really tried to have us enjoy these intense couple months by having very creative ways to help us apply the concepts we were learning in class. For Dr. Rafeedie’s kinesiology class, we hit piñatas to learn about trunk rotation and forces on the body, and for Dr. Stein’s neuroscience class, we dressed up in our best 80s clothing and sang a modified version of a Madonna song to help us remember the nerves of the upper extremities!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
I suppose this would in my fridge and pantry, but everyday for lunch at school I eat a PB&J, string cheese, carrots, apple sauce, pretzels, a cutie, and a granola bar. In the words of the pediatrics immersion professor Dr. Kingsley, “You have the lunch of a four-year-old and it’s awesome.”

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation.” It sounds silly, but she always puts her friends and family first, isn’t afraid to fail, accomplishes anything she sets her mind to, and has great taste in breakfast food.

Kara Todrank, MA II ‘17

Kara Todrank, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Roseville, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
My mom is an occupational therapist and my dad is a physical therapist, so naturally, I grew up wanting nothing to do with any job that had the word “therapist” in it. Years later, I was a psychology major researching potential careers, and realized that occupational therapy would actually be a perfect fit for me. I eventually had to admit to my mom that I thought her job was pretty awesome (sorry dad!).

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
In the rare occasion that I don’t have to study for Adult Rehab, I love going to the beach, sleeping, going to the gym, and trying every Ben & Jerry’s flavor.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
Before one of the football games a big group of us played cornhole and giant Jenga in the courtyard of the OT house. So much fun!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
So much cheese. Right now I literally have two types of mozzarella, cheddar, smoked gouda (my weakness), and string cheese. My roommate is lactose intolerant and was a little concerned when we first moved in together.

What is your spirit animal and why would this animal represent you?
I’m really tall so I get giraffe a lot. I ran the hurdles in high school and my friends would always say that I reminded them of a giraffe when my super long legs would jump up in the air.

Cecilia Tran, MA II ‘17

Cecilia Tran, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Rosemead, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I was shadowing at a pediatric occupational therapy clinic, and I was inspired by the way occupational therapy helped people overcome challenges and work towards goals that made their lives meaningful. I took it as a valuable lesson of how powerful it can be to treat others and the world with hope and potential in mind. As I went on to volunteer in various other practice areas, I was drawn to the diversity of populations that occupational therapy serves and how uniquely holistic and client-centered the profession is.

What area of practice are you interested in?
I have an interest in adult rehabilitation, but I’m also loving my experience so far in my mental health immersion.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
I studied Psychology and Sociology in undergrad, and I was heavily involved in a nonprofit organization dedicated to community health and education. I also participated in a peer education group that raised awareness about sexual violence and worked to eliminate violence through programming. I’m also still involved in a nonprofit community youth group and play music as an accompanist for a choir. 

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Ice cream

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
Ice cream

Jessica Roe, MA II ‘17

Jessica Roe, MA II ‘17

Entry-Level Master's

Hometown: Dana Point, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I’ve wanted to work with children ever since I can remember and thought I wanted to teach preschool. My mom told me that I should look into occupational therapy, but being the 16 year old who can’t be told what to do, I said no. I worked at a summer camp for children with disabilities in high school and college where the campers were paired one-on-one with counselors. I treasured having the personal bond with campers that grew over the week. When I was teaching, I realized that I missed the one-on-one interactions and felt that I made the most impact in a more intimate setting. I also missed working with children with special needs. I felt that occupational therapy would allow me to beautifully blend the three. Maybe I should’ve listened to my mother, but I’m grateful for the experiences that led me to OT.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Pediatrics!! (is it obvious?) I’m really interested in early intervention and look forward to learning more, but I have enjoyed working with all ages.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
Most things in my life relate to theatre and/or children. I have been in numerous plays, was a mentor and reading tutor to second grade students in LAUSD, taught middle school theater, assistant directed elementary theater productions, worked at the aforementioned camp, and worked towards earning my permit to teach preschool.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Zucchinis!! My roommate bought a vegetable spiralizer and now I eat zucchini noodles most nights of the week. Apples, peanut butter, carrots, and hummus, which I eat for lunch everyday, as my classmates can attest too. I also have greek yogurt, string cheese, and milk; I would have a hard time being vegan

How do you want to be remembered?
There is a great Maya Angelou quote that I think relates perfectly to this question, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I hope that I will be remembered for the way I made those around me feel. I hope they remember being cared for and respected.

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) :)

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 :)

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