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

Meet Our Trojan Family

Amber Malinowski MAII ‘19

Amber Malinowski MAII ‘19

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Pacifica, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted a career helping others. Through my volunteer and work experience I was able to learn about the field and immediately fell in love with it.

What area of practice are you interested in?
I hope to work either with kids on the Autism Spectrum or in pediatric oncology.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I love working out, cooking, and reading. But… mostly eating!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Avocados, cookie dough, and cheese!

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
Australia

Vanessa Miller MAII ‘19

Vanessa Miller MAII ‘19

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

What brought you to occupational therapy?
With plans to pursue physical therapy, I decided to shadow an OT during my sophomore year of college to get a first-hand look at the differences between PT and OT. I fell in love with the preventative approach of occupational therapy and how there was a focus on finding adaptive strategies for individuals to use that would help them long-term.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Pediatrics

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I have run cross country and track since I was ten and like to do yoga. I also love to cook- particularly plant-based dishes!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Mangoes and probably tempeh!

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Rich Roll

How do you want to be remembered?
As someone who has a passion for life and is unafraid to pursue what sets my heart on fire.

Alya Turcotte MAII ‘19

Alya Turcotte MAII ‘19

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Stevenson Ranch, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I nannied a young boy who had some developmental disabilities and I got to work with his OT in the home, and it was a wonderful experience! Also, I volunteered for a program where we do physical activity and sports with individuals with disabilities, and it really fueled my love for OT and adaptations that are possible for individuals of any ability.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Right now, I’m interested in working in pediatrics, but am open to any area - I can’t wait to start fieldwork to get to experience many different populations and find where I fit best.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I was a gymnast, and still love to get into the gym and flip around. But, mainly I enjoy weight lifting, running, hiking, and walking my dog, Stella.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
A lot of fruit, asparagus, and LOTS of cheese. And most likely a pint of ice cream (in the freezer, not the fridge)

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
My dream is to go to Greece, Spain, and India, but especially India, so I can see where some of my family is from.

Eric Alcantara MAII ‘19

Eric Alcantara MAII ‘19

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Rancho Cucamonga, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I knew I wanted to do some kind of rehabilitation/therapy with my undergraduate degree but I was not exactly sure what I wanted to do. After a ton of hours spent volunteering and shadowing, the client-centered approach and holistic treatment brought me to this field.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
I’ve always been motivated to stay active and work with my hands; While I earned my degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton I volunteered at various rehabilitation settings to get an idea of what I wanted to do. But before I came to USC, I worked at the regional hospital near my hometown and as an aerospace machinist.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
That’s a tough one to answer. I like to travel, watch/play baseball and football, and play guitar. More recently I have picked up playing golf and piano.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Adult rehab and pediatrics. It’s tough to choose between two opposite sides of the spectrum but luckily USC gives me the chance to see both sides before I get tossed into the real world.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Yikes. Most likely two different kinds of chicken (fried or roasted), leftovers of spaghetti and garlic bread, spinach, and orange juice. It’s not the healthiest choices available but it gets the job done (most of the time).

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. One motivational talk from him and I’m set.

Yushi Wang BS-MA ‘19

Yushi Wang BS-MA ‘19

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: Charleston, WV

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I didn’t know what OT was until I came to USC as an undergrad student and met a really cool girl in my freshman dorm who was majoring in OT! I immediately loved the sound of its holistic healing approach as well as individualistic focus on each person’s interests and hobbies, which are the driving force of any person’s life.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
My favorite occupations right now include digital photography, hiking anywhere in California, drawing and painting people that inspire me, reading, cooking sort of elaborate vegetarian things, aaaand sleeping.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
One of my favorite memories of the program so far has been the welcome lunch where a lot of the faculty went up and spoke, the Trojan marching band came and played, and we ate amazing food from Town & Gown!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
If you opened my fridge, you would see Greek yogurt, granola, berries, and salmon burgers, because I’m trying to be healthy. But in an ideal world where junk food isn’t actually junk, you would find hot cheetos, sour gummy worms, and soda.

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
If I could travel anywhere, I would go to Nepal, because I’m really interested in learning more about Buddhism and its zen practices. I also want to stay at an Everest base camp and hopefully backpack a few days in the Himalayas!

Mia McGovern MAII ‘19

Mia McGovern MAII ‘19

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: San Diego, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I’ve always had a passion for helping others, especially children. After exploring similar options, an older college friend suggested OT. After my first day at my internship (and every day after that) I knew OT was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Although I’m excited to explore geriatrics and mental health, pediatrics is where my heart and passion lie!

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
In college, I was a psych major and did a few internships at pediatric OT clinics, including one that involved the use of horses (hippotherapy). I took a year off while applying to graduate programs and worked as an ABA Behavior Interventionist for Easterseals, which was great experience in implementing therapeutic techniques before beginning my Masters program!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I love traveling, playing piano, exploring new coffee shops, and playing with my kitten Olive (crazy cat-mom in training)!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

A few things you’d find are hummus and carrots, Trader Joe’s soyaki, and Sprite Zero (I’m not actually that healthy, all the chocolate and ice cream is in my freezer!)

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
I would travel back to Florence, Italy! It’s such a beautiful town that’s so rich in culture, and it’s filled with amazing people, pizza, and wine!

How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a kind, loving person who loved her job and family and lived to help others. Also, my friends will probably remember me as an owl & coffee lover and a really good parallel parker!

Angela Kim BS-MA ‘20

Angela Kim BS-MA ‘20

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: Cypress, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I volunteered for a Saturday School for disabled children in high school and absolutely loved my time teaching and helping students with activities such as writing, dancing, and playing sports. I became interested in pursuing a career that would give me more insight into how I can better assist people by guiding them through everyday tasks. One day, my volunteer coordinator told me that occupational therapy sounded like the perfect career for me, so I started volunteering at a pediatric therapy clinic where I got to see an OT at work. Seeing how playfully the occupational therapist interacted with children of various abilities showed me that OT was not just about providing physical support but about caring for the individual as a whole and forming trusting relationships along the way. It seemed that OT was the perfect blend of health science and social support, and I knew that this was the career for me.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I enjoy singing, playing tennis, knitting/crocheting, snowboarding,

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
My favorite memory from the program so far definitely has to the biweekly cadaver lab in Anatomy. It took me a while to get used to the pungent smell of the embalming chemicals, but when I did, I began to really appreciate the bodies and their contribution to my learning. It was such a valuable experience to be able to see real human tissue firsthand after learning about them in lecture. I almost miss the smell of lab now (Is that weird?)

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Lots and lots of avocados (the greatest fruit on the planet), hummus, and baby carrots!

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
History textbooks say it’s the Gutenberg printing press. I say it’s the waffle maker.

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
Jesus Christ!

Ellie Clark MAII ‘19

Ellie Clark MAII ‘19

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Hastings, MN

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I fell into OT by chance, after applying for a volunteer position at a local children’s hospital the summer after my freshman year at college.  I had the opportunity to volunteer as an aid in the rehabilitation unit which was home to the Speech Pathology, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy programs.  I was fascinated by the role an OT has in a patient’s progress and the positive influence they can have through the simplest of interactions.  I also noticed just about every OT I worked with came and left work with a smile, day in and day out.  That’s when I knew that I wanted to follow that path. 

What area of practice are you interested in?
I am interested in working in pediatrics and with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am looking forward to exploring other areas throughout the program, as well.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
Before coming into this program, I worked as lifeguard and swim instructor for several years.  I loved working with children, especially by means of skill development.  More recently I have worked as a clinical research intern with a psychiatric center near my college.  I worked with a study that focused on adults with ASD.  In this study, the intent was on improving social communication skiills and cognitive enhancement through curriculum interventions for the purpose of more effective and efficient integration into the workforce.  I love working with people and for people and these experiences really opened my eyes to this ambition of mine.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
If you were to open my fridge you would definitely find anything breakfast related (eggs, grapefruit, yogurt, etc.) because I can eat breakfast over any other meal at any time of the day.  You’d also find some chocolate!

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
If I could travel anywhere I think I would backpack through South America.  I studied for a semester in Spain and loved immersing myself in a region with different language and culture.  It’d be cool to put my Spanish to use again in an entirely new way.  Plus it would be incredible to explore the region of Patagonia (possibly while wearing my favorite item of clothing, patagonia).

Claire Ficca BS-MA ‘19

Claire Ficca BS-MA ‘19

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: Renton, WA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I was drawn to OT because of a love for taking care of people and wanting to blend that with science of the body and mind. 

What area of practice are you interested in?
I’m interested in pediatrics, especially aquatic therapy, and special needs adults.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
Some occupations I engage in are cooking, running, biking, reading, writing, and singing.

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
If I could travel anywhere right now I would go to Iceland.

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
If I could choose someone to be my mentor it would be C. S. Lewis.

Angana Vaishnav OTD ‘17

Angana Vaishnav OTD ‘17

OTD program

Hometown: Mumbai, India

What brought you to occupational therapy?
The way I discovered occupational therapy was quite serendipitous. It was still a growing field in India and no one really knew much about it, including me. But it happened to be the perfect match for my personality. Occupational therapy allows me to be my fun, spunky and energetic self in order to enable an individual lead a more productive and meaningful life. How fun is that?!

Where are you located for your residency and what services are provided there?
My residency is at two pediatric clinics: The Children’s Therapy Center and Therapy West. I work as a school based OT and also offer clinic services focusing on Sensory Integration therapy.

What do you hope to learn from this year?
I hope to get out of my comfort zone and expand my skills as a pediatric occupational therapist. After starting my OTD, I feel less intimidated with the word “leadership.” So I hope to develop that hidden side of me so that I can contribute to the field, as well as to occupational therapy in India, to the best of my ability.

If you could give any words of advice for incoming Master’s students, what would it be?
You are truly fortunate to be at the best institutions that will strengthen your understanding and passion towards occupational therapy. You will be surrounded by the pioneers and the superstars of the field. Take complete advantage of this opportunity and never stop seeking their support! Fight On!

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