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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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People

Melissa Pena MAII ’20

Melissa Pena MAII ’20

Hometown: Cerritos, CA

Program: Entry-Level Professional Master's, Class of 2020

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I have a cousin who is a physical therapist, and other family members in the healthcare field. I also have a cousin who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, and so they have all unintentionally guided me to the field of OT. When I learned more about how OT is a wonderful combination of both health and social sciences, I was immediately drawn.

What area of practice are you interested in?
I have so many interests in many different areas (just shows the beauty of how broad this field is!). Spinal Cord Injury, oncology, and gerontology are at the top. However, I just recently found a lot of interest in Lifestyle Redesign and Mental Health (I’m in the Mental Health Immersion right now and in love with it so far!)

What are some of the occupations you engage in?
I love going to the gym, going on walks or hikes, being at the beach, trying new recipes I find on Pinterest, seeing live music, and binge-watching shows.

If your childhood had a smell, what would it be?
Fruit Roll Ups and Gushers

What are some small things that make your day better?
To me, being outside in the sunshine or being by the ocean makes the world of a difference (CA girl born and raised)! Also ice cream. You can never go wrong with ice cream.