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

Victoria Tracy Wong, MAII ‘15

Victoria Tracy Wong, MAII ‘15

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: San Francisco, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I previously worked with seniors who had mental disabilities prior to college. When my best friend told me she was thinking of switching from nursing into occupational therapy, I looked into it. Much of the description seemed to be what I had done that previous summer. As I looked into it further, I decided to shadow a registered occupational therapist and found one at Ronald Reagan Hospital’s Neurological Rehabilitation Unit and in the Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program. I loved being in both settings, and I learned so much from observing that I knew I wanted to pursue occupational therapy as a career.

What area of practice are you interested in?

I came into occupational therapy interested in pediatrics, but I am still open to the different immersion experiences I will have!

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.

I was a psychology major at UCLA and had a minor in applied developmental psychology. I loved working with children and figuring out how minds think. My friends and family members always thought I might go into teaching or into the health care field, so it was not too surprising when I decided on occupational therapy.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I enjoy baking (especially if it I can change up the ingredients to make it healthier), hiking, and just hanging out with friends.

What Hogwarts house would you be in and why?

I took a fun personality test before to see which Hogwarts house I would be placed in, and I got placed in Hufflepuff! I would say it’s pretty accurate considering this house values patience, hard work, loyalty, and fair play, which I do as well.

What are two truths and a lie about yourself?

My favorite color is blue, I would choose a sunrise over a sunset, and I really love citrus-y fruit.

Tina Sehremelis, BS-MA ‘15

Tina Sehremelis, BS-MA ‘15

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: Seal Beach, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I was always interested in going into the medical profession; however, it was a family friend who introduced me to occupational therapy.  After she described to me everything she did as an OT, I knew that this career matched up with my professional aspirations.

What area of practice are you interested in?

Pediatrics, specifically interested in working in the NICU.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I enjoy playing tennis, hiking, going to the beach, and running.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

My fridge would be filled with Chobani yogurts because I am obsessed with that brand of Greek yogurts. My roommates laugh at me because my fridge is currently overflowing with Chobani yogurts.

What are two truths and a lie about yourself?

I am 100% Greek. I have never had braces. I am the oldest of six children.

Sook-Lei Liew, PhD ‘12, MAII ‘08

Sook-Lei Liew, PhD ‘12, MAII ‘08

PhD program

Hometown: Plano, Texas

What brought you to occupational therapy?

My junior year of college, I didn’t know what I would do with my English and Kinesiology double major. So I took a career test, which suggested I become a farmer or an occupational therapist. I started looking into occupational therapy. I loved that it was a creative, dynamic helping profession with a lot of different applications (pediatrics, adult rehabilitation, etc).

Why did you decide to pursue your PhD in Occupational Science?

The first course of my MA program at USC was Neuroscience, taught by Dr. Nancy Bagatell. It was my first real exposure to neuroscience, and I loved learning from Dr. Bagatell, because she taught both the intricacies of the brain and nervous system and how these things affect people’s everyday lives. I started volunteering as a research assistant in Dr. Lisa Aziz-Zadeh’s lab, doing brain imaging to understand social cognition, which was fascinating. I also completed my second Level II Fieldwork at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in the acute neuro/spinal cord floor and loved working with the patients. However, I realized there was so much left to understand in terms of recovery after brain injury. Thus, I started a PhD in OS to understand how the brain affects our ability to engage in daily occupations better, with a long-term goal of developing more effective strategies and therapies for neurorehabilitation.

What was the most rewarding part of being in the PhD program?

My PhD experience was a challenging but very rewarding 4 years. During this time, I learned to design, conduct and analyze neuroimaging data, and how to write and present results in publications and presentations. I was fortunate to receive a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) and a USC Provost’s PhD fellowship, which helped tremendously in supporting my research efforts, in addition to the generous support of the USC OS/OT division. By the end of my 4 years, I had 9 publications (6 first-author), and had given over 20 conference presentations and invited talks for both science-based and general public audiences. I also had the opportunity to conduct a productive research collaboration with Peking University in China, under a research grant from the National Science Foundation, and the opportunity to attend several neuroimaging training programs, such as at the Riken Brain Science Institute (Tokyo, Japan) and with the Federation of European Neurosciences and International Brain Research Organization (Lausanne/Geneva, Switzerland).

What are you are doing now?

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). I am working with Dr. Leonardo Cohen in the Human Cortical Physiology and Neurorehabilitation Section on identifying biomarkers associated with recovery after stroke and on using novel brain-computer interface technology to help individuals learn to control their own brain activity after stroke.

Melissa Schram, BS-MA ‘14

Melissa Schram, BS-MA ‘14

Bachelor's to Master's program

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I fell in love with occupational therapy after learning about it at USC and then observing a few OTs during the summer before my sophomore year of college. I was lucky to find out about the progressive degree and I was able to get all the prerequisites done during college and begin the master’s program as a senior!  I’m so happy that everything worked out!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I love to watch Gilmore Girls and spend time with friends and family.  I enjoy doing yoga but wish I had more time to do it!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

In my fridge right now there are some carrots and ranch dressing, grapes, leftover pizza from my dinner last night, milk, and chocolate chip cookie dough. The essentials!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I would like to be able to make myself invisible because I love to people-watch.

Charmi Patel, MAI ‘14

Charmi Patel, MAI ‘14

Post-Professional Master's program

Hometown: Mumbai, India

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I always wanted to be in the health care profession. After my high school, when I was applying for grad school, I heard about occupational therapy from a few friends. I got into OT school but I was waiting to get a transfer to PT school. As days passed by and I started to get to know what OT is and how I could bring about a change in the life of others, I decided to stay back as an OT. A doctor adds years to your life, but as an OT I can add life to those years.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Pediatrics and Mental Health

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
Culinary, Badminton, Designing Indian ethnic wear with my mom.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would want to time travel with a snap of the finger, so I could be near my family and friends just when I miss them the most.

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
One of my seniors from grad school, Pooja Mehta, and my mother.

Rebecca Brito, MAII ‘15

Rebecca Brito, MAII ‘15

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Orange, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I initially wanted to go into physical therapy but after doing some volunteering and observation I realized occupational therapy was a better fit and I enjoyed it more.

What area of practice are you interested in?

I’m interested in working with veterans or working with individuals with low vision.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.

I’ve worked as an English language instructor and an ophthalmic technician and have my degree in human development.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

I love to hike, take trips to the dog beach and bake!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

Nothing. My top ramen is in the cabinet.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

To freeze time! I would be able to get all my homework/studying done AND get a full 8 hours sleep!

JoAnne Wright, PhD, OTR/L, CLVT, FAOTA

JoAnne Wright, PhD, OTR/L, CLVT, FAOTA

PhD program

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

What brought you to occupational therapy?

I was born with an OT brain - it was great to find a field of practice where I could use this gift.

Why did you decide to pursue your PhD in Occupational Science?

It was new and exciting and made sense to me.

What was the most rewarding part of being in the PhD program?

The greatest thing I got out of my PhD program was an ability to think in a more dynamic and complex way about the world around me and how humans interact. I was awarded the Outstanding Professional Enrichment through the Creative Use of Theory Award and was in the first cohort of doctoral students in occupational science.

What are you are doing now?

Dean of School of Health Sciences; Salt Lake Community College.

Yasi Amanat, MAII ‘15

Yasi Amanat, MAII ‘15

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Calabasas, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?

Once learning about this profession from a friend, I was intrigued by the multi-faceted dimensions of OT. This profession encompasses any and every component of the careers I had wanted to pursue growing up, into one lifelong goal of helping others in leading an active and fulfilling life.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?

Eating, being outdoors, and taking silly pictures with my grandma.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.

During the summer, in our Kinesiology course, we had the opportunity to go outdoors and play with parachutes. Although we were learning, it was fun playing parachute games together that we had not played since elementary school. We all absolutely loved it!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?

Yogurt, salad, dark chocolate, and MILD salsa because I can’t handle spicy!

What are two truths and a lie about you?

I practiced gymnastics for 7 years, I only applied to USC for OT school, and I am allergic to kiwi.

Shain Davis, OTD ‘13, MA ‘12

Shain Davis, OTD ‘13, MA ‘12

OTD program

Track: Research Expertise

The OTD program has allowed me to practice as a pediatric occupational therapist while completing my residency on an active research study. In my residency, Beating the Odds: Facilitating Lifestyle Change in Urban Latino Young Adults with Diabetes, I collaborate with a variety of health-care professionals including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and certified diabetes educators as I work to design a diabetes management intervention manual for young adults. I am taking coursework to further my clinical skills and leadership training and I hope that the intervention manual I develop will be used in the near future to conduct a funded randomized control trial examining the potential benefits of using a Lifestyle Redesign® approach versus traditional medical protocols.

Samruddhi Ghaisas, OTD ‘12, MA ‘11

Samruddhi Ghaisas, OTD ‘12, MA ‘11

OTD program

Track: Research Expertise

As a pediatric occupational therapist in India, I decided to come to USC for Sensory Integration and research experience. As a Master’s student, I took OT 610: Sensory Integration and for my OTD, I completed my residency in the Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study. To aid in my research, I took PM 536: Program Evaluation, which trained me in statistical methods and OT 645: Narrative, Healing, and the Culture of Biomedicine, which helped me understand the intricacies of narratives. My residency helped me understand how a major research-study functions and I developed my own case study focusing on the relationship between the development of pressure ulcers and lifestyle changes in adults with spinal cord injury.

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