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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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News and Events
News and Events

Meet our new students: David Matharu ’95, MA ’17
August 25, 2015

In advance of the USC Chan Division’s 2015 White Coat Ceremony on Friday, Aug. 28, we're profiling three of the newest Trojan Family members: incoming occupational therapy students. Today, meet David Matharu ’95, MA ’17

Clinical Diversity, Access, Equity Events Students

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By Yasmine Pezeshkpour

David Matharu ’95, MA ’17/photo credit Heather Van Buren

David Matharu ’95, MA ’17/photo credit Heather Van Buren

Helping others is a family affair for David Matharu ’95, MA ’17.

His parents owned seven residential facilities in Los Angeles for adults with developmental disabilities.

His brother Yogi Matharu ’95, DPT ’98 is a practicing physical therapist, who works as an assistant professor in the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and is the director of that division’s faculty practice.

So when it came time for Matharu to start his own career more than 20 years ago, he decided to go into the family business by establishing Matharu Assisted Living Inc., an organization that runs single-family residences for adults with developmental disabilities. Today, there are four Matharu Assisted Living locations — two in Lawndale and two in Gardena — which provide housing to 24 individuals total.

In 2006, Matharu established Independent Horizons, a day program for adults with development disabilities. The program has since grown into two locations in Carson and Long Beach, serving 54 individuals each.

The power of occupational therapy

It was while working at these various programs that Matharu witnessed firsthand the impact that occupational therapy can make on the life of someone with a developmental disability.

“Observing our occupational therapists while they worked with our clients and realizing the impact that they make on the lives of these individuals is truly remarkable,” Matharu says.

It was this experience coupled with an inspiring orientation hosted by the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy that prompted the 44-year-old business owner to go back to school for his occupational therapy degree.

“I have a successful business working with adults with developmental disabilities,” he says.  “Although I love what I do, I wanted to work hands-on, in a clinical capacity, with my clients.” He also says he’d like to expand his horizons by working with other populations as well.

Back to school

As a self-described “business owner, property manager, administrator and human resource department all rolled into one,” Matharu plans to entrust his business with his partners and colleagues while he embarks upon full-time education.

“I am lucky to have a successful business that my wife Anita is managing while I complete my degree,” he explains. “Over the years, we have built a strong team of administrators and consultants to oversee to the day-to-day operation of the business. This made the decision to return to school full time easy.”

With all that he has achieved, Matharu hopes to apply what he has learned in his business to his studies.

“Twenty years of working in the real world and dealing with people has given me real-life experiences that are invaluable and will serve to make me a better therapist,” he says. “Had I gone to OT school immediately upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I would not be able to bring 20 years of experience into the classroom.”

Matharu will be one of 205 students donning their white coat and swearing their professional oaths for the first time on Aug. 28 as part of USC Chan’s annual White Coat Ceremony.

“The White Coat ceremony is a new beginning, a first step,” Matharu says. “I look forward to wearing my white coat for the first time and assuming this awesome responsibility, as well as everything else that it entails.”