Olivia Wong earns her Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from USC.
Why did you choose to pursue your degree?
When I first entered USC, I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field but I was not sure exactly what I wanted to do. However, I knew that the principles taught in Health Promotion about the social determinants of health, improving healthcare access and health education in underserved communities, and treating patients in an ethical and culturally competent way would serve me in whatever healthcare profession I chose to pursue.
What has been your biggest accomplishment during your studies?
I am honored that I was able to lead the USC Freehand team during my time at USC. USC Freehand is a team within the 3D printing club 3D4E that provides free and custom 3D printed prosthetics to children with hand differences at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Working with families included initial consultation visits, taking measurements of the affected limbs, designing custom pieces and themes for the prosthetic, printing, assembly, and delivery. Some of my favorite themes were Aladdin and Fast and Furious hands. Seeing the smiles on the faces of the children as they learned to use their new devices was also an incredible experience.
What’s an important lesson you learned?
The most important thing I learned is that the health of an individual depends on many more factors besides just diet and exercise. Access to adequate healthcare resources, education, social support, and environment all play a major role in improving the health of an individual. As a healthcare provider, you must take into account all of these factors in a culturally competent manner to provide the best care to your patient.
What’s one of your favorite memories from your program?
One of my favorite memories was creating a USC-themed 3D printed dog wheelchair for a French bulldog with paralyzed back legs. This was done through the USC 3D printing club. During the club’s showcase, I brought the dog to campus. It was great to see Frenchie running around for the first time in years using a device that I had designed.
What will you miss most and why?
I will miss the in-person support of all of my friends within health promotion. I will never forget the many nights we stayed up late studying for tests and supporting each other through final exams and graduate school applications.
What are you doing after you graduate?
I will be attending Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas this June to obtain my Master’s in Orthotics and Prosthetics. After completing a year of didactic work and an 18 month residency, I hope to pass my board exams and practice at my own prosthetic and orthotic clinic.
What do you look forward to in your career?
I am looking forward to using everything I have learned in Health Promotion and in the 3D printing club to improve the lives of individuals who need assistive devices. Many individuals in underserved communities lack access to prosthetic and orthotic care due to cost or language barriers. Now that I understand the root causes of health inequities I hope to use my knowledge of 3D printing to lower the barriers to care for low income patients.
What advice do you have for future grads?
My advice to future graduates is to pursue as many of your interests as possible through academic programs, research, and clubs offered at USC. I never thought joining the 3D printing club for fun my freshman year would allow me to discover the field of prosthetics and lead to me deciding to go to graduate school to become a practitioner.