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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Academics
Academics

Meet the Bachelor's to Master's Students

Yushi Wang BS-MA ‘19

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!

Angela Kim BS-MA ‘20

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!

Claire Ficca BS-MA ‘19

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.

Tiffany Tung BS-MA ‘19

Hometown: Portland, OR

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I learned about occupational therapy in high school, while I was volunteering for a youth mental health crisis line. I loved the idea of helping people to engage in meaningful occupations and “heal by doing,” and I also enjoyed learning about the human body and mind, so OT sounded perfect to me.

What area of practice are you interested in?
I’m open to all practice areas, but I’m particularly interested in mental health. I would love to combine mental health OT with animal assisted therapy.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
My favorite occupation is spending quality time with my friends and my dog. I also enjoy yoga, hiking, traveling, and attempting to knit.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Strawberries, yogurt, soup, dumplings, and some assortment of junk food.

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
Does boba count?

Pengchen Zhao BS-MA ‘19

Hometown: Shenzhen, China

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I’ve always been interested in mental health, even though it is still stigmatized and not addressed enough in my home country, China. In fact, I was accepted to USC as a psychology major. I wanted to make a change, especially after witnessing what the stress of losing a child did to my uncle. Later, I found OT in creativity workshop class, and was absolutely captivated. There couldn’t have been a better path for me, someone who longs for making a change in people’s lives and yearns for creativity and adventures.

What area of practice are you interested in?
Mental health

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
drawing, reading, sleeping, trying new food

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
vegan cheese (I just hate anything milky), copious amount of fruits, leftover meals.

How do you want to be remembered?
“She made a great change in my life.”

Carnie Lewis BS-MA ‘18

Hometown: Perth, Australia

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I spent seven years living in Shanghai, and during that time I volunteered at an orphanage for children who are blind. I would interact with children who had been neglected or mistreated, and I saw how much their lives improved with activities that were adapted to their needs. I already knew about occupational therapy because my mother, a teacher, worked alongside occupational therapists in school and told me about the profession, but it was this experience at the orphanage that really drew me personally to the field.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
In May of 2015, as an undergraduate in the BS to MA program, I traveled to Guatemala to study culture, language, health and disease. I loved learning about the occupational therapy and healthcare services in Guatemala because it helped me understand how to apply OT to different cultures or communities. I learned so much from visiting clinics, discussing governmental and non-governmental resources, and talking to my host family about their occupations and personal experiences with health care. Because of this integrated and hands-on learning experience, I’d like to further study how to best implement OT services and policies into developing communities where therapeutic and preventative health care facilities are often neglected or absent.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Blueberries, dark chocolate, and avocados.

What do you think is the greatest invention of mankind?
The Internet! It’s made more research available to so many fields and has allowed the everyday person to have access to science that was once considered arcane.

Ali Vogelsang BS-MA ‘18

Hometown: Gold River, California

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I was brought to occupational therapy during the spring of my freshman year at USC. I signed up for an undergraduate elective course in occupational science and I could not believe that occupational therapy was an actual profession. It was as though somebody put a name to exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

What area of practice are you interested in?
I am open to any area of practice at this point, but I am most interested in working in a children’s hospital. I would love to be the person that allows a child to still be a child.

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
My favorite occupation currently is running in new locations to explore LA. I recently took up golf so I can play with my parents since it is their all-time favorite occupation.

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
If I could go anywhere in the world right now I would go to Thailand because I have never been anywhere like it and I can’t even imagine what it would be like. I would love to experience a culture so completely different!

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to be your mentor, who would you pick?
I would pick JK Rowling because I love that she created her own world. She used writing as her outlet, creating characters, such as the Dementors in Harry Potter, to describe depression in a real yet personal way. I would love to hear her point of view and how writing became her coping mechanism to deal with her illness. I would also love to nerd out over all things Harry Potter related! Hufflepuffs for life.

Yiyang Fang (Sunny) BS-MA ‘20

Hometown: Shanghai, China

What brought you to occupational therapy?
Two years ago, my American counselor showed me a video of an occupational therapist helping a child with a disability. Eager to help people in need, I was fascinated by this job and started to read various articles about OT. In the following year, to gain a deeper understanding of OT, I shadowed an occupational therapist in a health center in Cincinnati. This experience made me totally fall in love with Occupational Therapy and thus I decided to major in it during college.

Describe your background before coming to occupational therapy.
I was born and raised in China and only visited the U.S. twice before entering USC.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
In the first week of school, I had a welcome dinner with all the OT freshmen and professors. As the only international student this year in this program, I received lots of help and kindness, which made the dinner memorable.

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Lots of cookies and cheese cakes!

If you could have one superpower what would it be?
I wish I could fly super fast, so that I wouldn’t need to buy expensive plane tickets to go back home.

Angeline Hernandez, BS-MA ‘19

Hometown: Walnut, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
My high school internship at a convalescent hospital first introduced me to occupational therapy, and helping others has always been such a big part of who I am. I was so lucky to be admitted to the program at USC!

What area of practice are you interested in?
I have always loved working with kids, so I am mainly interested in pediatrics.

Tell us about your favorite memory from the program so far.
In OT 251, Professor Tessa Milman brought in a young girl with autism, along with her mom, to speak to our class about growing up with a developmental disorder. Not only was it such an interesting class period, but it also brought to light the important role of occupational therapy in a real-life setting!

If we opened your fridge, what would we see?
Pre-made Filipino food, courtesy of my mom. Frozen chicken/dumplings/meatballs. Sweet tea. Coffee ice cream! Bacon. The usual.

What are two truths and a lie about yourself?
I have a one-eyed dog, Poochie. I cook really good food. I love Disneyland.

(Lie: I am notorious amongst my family and friends for presenting failed dinner products at the table.)

Veerali Juthani, BS-MA ‘20

Hometown: San Jose, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work with children. I began to look at different fields when my aunt introduced me to OT. I began to volunteer at a few clinics and I was hooked! The more I was exposed to the field, the more I fell in love with it. I loved the creativity and hands-on approach that was associated with OT and the unique holistic approach that was taken to help others live life to the fullest!

What area of practice are you interested in?
Pediatrics! I’ve loved working with children of all ages ever since I was little!

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
Martial arts, baking, dancing, making cards, and traveling the world!

If you could have one superpower what would it be?
I would love to control time. Sometimes it feels as if time goes by too quickly, so it would be neat to slow down time and really cherish particular memories!

What are two truths and a lie about yourself?
Hawaii is my favorite vacation spot. I have been a vegetarian since birth. I love dogs.

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