Aspiring physician assistant looks to give back to USC’s surrounding community


Department of Population and Public Health Sciences

Publish date

May 30, 2018


Annie Yang graduated this month with not one, but two, USC degrees—a bachelor’s in health promotion and disease prevention and a master’s in global medicine. Learn more about how she used both programs to explore her various interests in health in this commencement student spotlight!

Annie Yang- Photo 2 Photographer- Stanley Wu-crop(Photo courtesy of Stanley Wang)

Why did you choose your degree program?

I chose to pursue both a BS in Health Promotion & Disease Prevention and a progressive MS in Global Medicine for a variety of reasons. One of my favorite things about the Keck School of Medicine of USC is the opportunity to take a range of classes, from zoonotic diseases to chronic epidemiology, allowing me to really explore my different interests. Both programs focus on a bigger picture of health care, not just the sciences but also health care education, promotion and prevention. I truly believe that the knowledge I have gained in these two programs will impact and benefit me greatly in the future as a health care provider.

What has been your biggest accomplishment at USC?

Being able to represent the undergraduate Keck program as a Keck Student Ambassador has been one of my biggest accomplishments. As co-director for the past two years, I have re-established the ambassador program within Keck. As ambassadors, we work very closely with the advisers and faculty of Keck, striving to make positive changes to the program that students want to see reflected. One of my favorite memories and biggest accomplishments was creating the first USC Health Professions Graduate School Fair. It was rewarding to see my event come to fruition and students felt like their voices had been heard. During my time at USC, I also helped create an educational non-profit organization called Splash SC. Our organization brings 300 high school students from the underserved Los Angeles area to USC to spend a day taking seminar-style classes created and taught by USC students. We want to empower the students in the LA community to take control of their own education. By providing classes not typically seen in a standard high school curriculum, we hope the classes spark their interest and instill them with a love of learning. During these day-long events, the classes I typically teach revolve around health education. It is an amazing feeling to see my students inspired at the end of the class to take their health into their own hands by implementing preventive measures into their daily lives.

What’s an important thing you learned?

During my four years at USC, I have worked part-time as a medical assistant at a worker’s compensation clinic in El Monte, California. I have worked here for approximately three-and-a-half years and I absolutely love it. In addition to the physicians and physician assistants that see the patients, our clinic is unique in that we provide our own in-house therapies, such as physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic. Since most of our patients come into the clinic at least twice a week for their scheduled therapy treatments, I know each patient fairly well. It brings me such joy to hear patients’ stories and see the therapies improving their conditions. I have truly learned that medicine is a team effort, involving, most importantly, the patients themselves.

What’s one of your favorite memories from the time spent in your program?

One of my favorite memories during my time at USC is traveling to New York City to volunteer with Care for the Homeless and Housing Works on an alternative spring break trip. We partnered with a secondhand shelter called Susan’s Place and administered health education activities with the women at the shelter. We created booths on nutrition labels, diet, healthful snacks and more. What I love most about medicine is the ability to forge connections with patients beyond just treating them. I hope to one day connect with my patients the way I connected with the women at the shelter.

What will you miss most and why?

Being a part of the Keck program has surrounded me with nothing but positive, passionate and inspiring individuals. Both the health promotion and global medicine programs have small class sizes and really allowed me to bond with many of my peers. The collaborative learning in my classes gave me the opportunity to have meaningful and engaging discussions with fellow students and professors who constantly inspired and encouraged me to pursue my passions.

What are you doing after you graduate?

I will be attending USC’s Primary Care Physician Assistant Program in Fall 2018. I am extremely excited to be continuing my studies at a school I already love and to call myself a triple Trojan!

What do you look forward to in your career path?

I look forward to becoming an advocate for the PA profession and for my future patients. I hope to be working with the diverse patient population near USC. I cannot wait until the day I become a certified PA, competent and able in giving back to a community that has already given me so much.

What advice do you give to future grads?

My advice to a future graduate who may currently still be at USC is to take advantage of all the opportunities that USC has to offer and to surrounding yourself with positive and inspiring individuals. There are so many events, organizations, research opportunities and amazing faculty that make USC such a great place to be. College is a place to learn about yourself, your future and others—try things you never thought you would try!

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