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

Joanne Noonan MA ‘17

Joanne Noonan MA ‘17

Entry-Level Master's program

Hometown: Co. Cork, Ireland

What brought you to occupational therapy?
Honestly, a whole lot of trial and error! From elementary school teaching in Ireland to working in the tech start up industry in San Francisco and everything in-between, I searched for a long time to find my path. When I discovered occupational therapy (thanks to my husband!) I knew it was the perfect blend of all my interests- science, healthcare, creativity, problem-solving and working directly with people and their families to make a difference in their lives. OT is not just a career, but a true passion.

You have a sister studying OT in Ireland — how do the programs differ?
Yes — my sister, Lorraine, has just finished up her MOT program in Ireland. The program here at USC offers elective courses in the final year, which isn’t a feature in my sister’s program. Her program requires her to complete a two-year-long research project, however getting involved in current research is extracurricular at USC.

What did you love most about where you grew up in Ireland?
I grew up on a small dairy farm in rural Ireland, about a one-hour drive into the countryside from Cork city. What I loved most was playing outside with my brothers, sister, cousins and neighbors — racing through the fields, climbing trees, cycling, playing in the river, soccer and just creating our own fun! When I visit home, I love to be near the farm and outside in the fresh, clean air.     

What are your favorite Irish foods? Do your parents cook? If so, what do they cook that you miss most?
I love (and miss) traditional Irish breakfasts! There is really nothing like it here in the U.S. My mother was the cook in our home, and still makes the best bacon and cabbage. My nana used to bake fresh scones and brown soda bread every week. Barry’s Irish tea is still a must have — even in California. My mom stuffs my suitcases with inordinate amounts of teabags whenever I visit. So if anyone reading this wants to chat over tea, let me know, I have at least a year’s supply and I keep some in my backpack at all times!

Do you have a favorite Irish saying?
“Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine.” It means “Under the shelter of each other, people survive” and really speaks to the importance of family and a community.

If someone visits Ireland, what are the three places on the “must-see” list?
The Ring of Kerry for great pubs and live music, the Cliffs of Moher for the scenery and the Guinness Factory in Dublin for a good pint!