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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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Student Ambassadors
2024–2025 Ambassadors

The USC Chan Student Ambassadors are current occupational therapy students. The role of a student ambassador is to help raise awareness for the field of occupational therapy and our programs here at USC. They provide tours, give informational presentations, help with events, blog about their experiences, post to Chan Division social media accounts, and answer questions from prospective students.

Below you can find information about the current USC Chan Student Ambassadors. If you have questions or feedback, you can contact the ambassadors at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Dana(she/her/hers)

Dana

Westminster, California

Hello! My name is Dana Nguyen, and I am in the Class of 2026 Entry-Level OTD Program. I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the US when I was 7 years old. I have been an Orange County resident since then, but now temporarily live in Monterey Park for grad school. As a first-generation college student, I attended Santa Ana College before transferring to USC where I obtained a BA degree in Psychology.

My journey to occupational therapy was very self-driven since my senior year of high school. I found OT through searching different healthcare careers on Google as I knew I wanted to go into healthcare after seeing my mom battle cancer. When I read what occupational therapists can do to help cancer patients, it immediately sparked a light in my eyes because it was exactly what I wished my family was provided with during my mom’s treatment. With caregiver education and improving patients’ quality of life through occupational participation, it would have relieved many stressors my family faced. Although time cannot be reversed, I want to focus on becoming an OT for future families faced with cancer diagnoses across the lifespan and advocating for their needs.

While I am interested in oncology, I love that this profession holds no boundaries to different population health, so I am also interested in exploring pediatric school-based OT, mental health population, and inpatient acute rehabilitation. I know that no matter where I end up, OT is a fulfilling profession that fits my passion for healthcare.

Outside of school, I enjoy partaking in crocheting, caring for my indoor plant babies, watching Korean dramas, and most importantly, attending K-Pop concerts (hit me up if you want to talk about all things K-Pop :D)! I’m looking forward to serving as this year’s Chan ambassador and can’t wait to meet you all as you settle into this amazing program! Fight on!

Jowy

Jowy

Queens, New York

Hello! My name is Jowy Cenat, and I am in the Class of 2026 Entry-Level OTD program. I was born in Queens, New York. I spent most of my life on the East Coast. When I was young, my father said you could do anything you wanted with your life. You just have to be willing to work hard to get it. My family were French-speaking foreigners who sacrificed a lot to give me a privileged childhood. I attended undergrad at Stockton University in New Jersey with a Health Science degree and a dual minor in public health and holistic health.

Free-To-Be, an early intervention school I taught at during my undergrad, introduced me to occupational therapy at a young age. Many of the children’s professors were seasoned physicians and therapists. The school emphasized the Montessori learning style. This learning style emphasizes self-directed learning and hands-on activities, as well as developing skills like leaving the environment better than you found it, understanding how someone else feels, and understanding that even interacting in the snow (and rain) can be therapeutic as part of an immersive learning experience. Educating one another on validating all parts of being human, including the entire spectrum of emotions, is essential and vital to us as occupational beings. Our occupations are more than simply things we do; they are filled with social connections, feelings, and purpose. Acknowledging and validating the emotional experiences that accompany these occupations enhances our well-being and sense of belonging.

I look forward to gaining experience as a future occupational therapist and learning from my clients. Therapeutically, a Chinese proverb says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. Psychologically, this could be why I have a strong passion for early intervention. I look forward to being a well-rounded therapist. Geriatrics, adults, etc. Yet, knowing my history, I will always have a love for pediatrics.

Outside of class, I enjoy spending time outdoors, traveling near the beach, and spending quality time with loved ones. I love being outdoors and the spontaneity of being adventurous.

Mason(he/him/his)

Mason

Sandy Hook, Connecticut
Read Mason’s blog posts ⟩

Hello everyone! My name is Mason Suba (he/him/his) and I am from Sandy Hook, Connecticut. I am currently finishing my first year of the Entry-Level OTD program and fourth year at USC as a student in the Accelerated Bachelor’s to Doctorate program.

I was lucky enough to have a mother who is a pediatric occupational therapist, so for me, I had the unique opportunity to grow up around occupational therapy. Watching my mother practice and change the lives of her patients through fun games and activities is what first drew me to the practice. What I loved about OT was that to the outside eye, my mother was simply playing games with kids, making them laugh, and having a great time. However, as many would say, through the lens of your OT goggles, my mother was creating unique and personally tailored skilled interventions to support these children’s development. Every game and activity was meticulously crafted and therapeutic, promoting skills like sensory integration, fine motor, and self-regulation. It was these experiences of watching my mother practice that sparked my initial love for OT. I was accepted to USC’s BS-OTD Program and despite a global pandemic changing our lives as we know it, I began my studies at USC, my first step towards my goal of becoming a clinician.

Four years later I am now officially a graduate student and I couldn’t be more excited to continue my journey here at Chan. Although when I began my time here at USC, pediatrics was the only thing on my mind, one thing you will hear from everyone in the program is that OT school will open your eyes to so many fantastic practice areas you had no idea you would enjoy. So far, completing my first practice immersion in adult physical rehabilitation has made me realize that I have a passion for working with adults in a hospital setting. What I love most about this setting is that you have the opportunity to support your patients in some of the most fundamental human occupations and witness the meaning that comes with independence in them. Although I may not know exactly where I want to end up once I graduate, what I do know is that I will be helping people and that I will have the skills needed to be the best clinician I can be.

I like to define myself as mostly a homebody and I love cats. In my free time, I enjoy making and trying all different kinds of coffee, playing video games, and getting out of the city and into nature on hikes and bike rides. Please feel free to reach out, I would love to chat and am happy to answer any questions!

Patricia

Patricia

East Los Angeles, California

Hello! Hola! My name is Patricia Vargas and I was born and raised in East LA. I graduated from CSULA with a BA in Child Development.

A year after I graduated with my BA I decided to go back to school and while I was researching physical therapy I stumbled upon an online brochure: ‘What is OT?’ After reading about it I was fascinated about the quality of care and the holistic approach of the profession. Since then, I have volunteered in different opportunities and currently work as a therapy aide where I continue to learn and grow my passion towards the profession. Currently I am interested in pediatric in-patient rehabilitation and/or community based mental health.

Outside of class, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, playing video games, cooking, eating, and sleeping. I am excited to share with all of you my experiences and journey as an OT student.

Shivani(she/her/hers)

Shivani

Chino Hills, California
Read Shivani’s blog posts ⟩

Hi everyone! My name is Shivani Mehta, and I’m currently a first-year (soon to be second-year) in Chan’s Entry-Level OTD program. I’m a hardcore Cali girl, as I was raised in Chino Hills, CA and graduated from UCSD with a BA in Human Developmental Sciences in 2022.

I was introduced to occupational therapy at a young age through a non-profit organization I volunteered with. However, my love for the profession didn’t develop until 2021, when I shadowed an OT in an outpatient clinic in Westminster, Maryland. During that experience, I got to witness first-hand what the holistic approach associated with OT looked like. Seeing the client-therapist relationship blossom and understanding the benefits of using meaningful occupation to promote healing and independence completely captivated me and led me to apply to OT school.

When I entered the program, I was immensely interested in Adult Rehab, specifically working with clients in inpatient rehab. However, after going through my first immersion experience, I began to comprehend the plethora of settings that OTs can work in. With that being said, I’m currently considering either Adult Rehab or Geriatrics with more of a focus on working with individuals with neurological conditions in a skilled nursing facility or outpatient clinic. 

When I’m not in school or studying, I’m usually watching a movie, at the gym, cooking, eating ice cream (Handel’s is the best), or hanging out with my friends in the program! I love traveling with friends and family and exploring new places and experiencing various cultures. I love meeting new people and am always here if you need some advice or just someone to talk to!

I’m so excited to be one of the Chan Student Ambassadors this year and sharing my experiences with you. Please reach out if you have any questions. I look forward to meeting you all! Fight On!