#2022Trojan: Meet Olivia Wong, graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Olivia Wong holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from USC.

Why did you choose to continue your studies?

When I first entered USC, I knew I wanted to work in healthcare, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. However, I knew that the principles taught in health promotion on the social determinants of health, improving access to health care and health education in underserved communities, and treating patients in an ethical and culturally competent manner would serve me in any healthcare profession I choose to pursue.

What was your greatest achievement during your studies?

Pictured: Olivia Wong delivers the USC-themed 3D-printed dog wheelchair to Frenchie, a French bulldog with paralyzed hind legs. Olivia founded the USC Freepaw team in 2018, which is part of USC’s 3D printing club 3D4E (3D printing for everyone). Photo by: Derek Wong.

I’m honored to have been able to lead the USC Freehand team during my time at USC. USC Freehand is a team of 3D Printing Club 3D4E that provides free, custom 3D printed prostheses to children with hand differences at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Work with families included initial consultation visits, taking measurements of affected limbs, designing custom parts and themes for the prosthesis, 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 amazing experience.

What is the important lesson you learned?

The most important thing I’ve learned is that an individual’s health depends on so many more factors than diet and exercise. Access to adequate health care resources, education, social support, and the environment all play a major role in improving an individual’s health. As a health care provider, you must consider all of these factors in a culturally competent way to provide the best care for your patient.

What is one of your best memories of your program?

One of my favorite memories was creating a USC themed 3D printed dog wheelchair for a French Bulldog with paralyzed hind legs. This was made by the USC 3D Printing Club. During the club showcase, I brought the dog to campus. It was great to see Frenchie running for the first time in years using a device I designed.

What will you miss the most and why?

I will miss the in-person support of all my health promotion friends. 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 do you do after you graduate?

I will be attending Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX in June to complete my Masters 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 in my own prosthetics and orthotics clinic.

What do you expect from your career?

I look forward to using everything I learned in health promotion and in the 3D printing club to improve the lives of people who need assistive devices. Many people in underserved communities do not have access to prosthetics and orthotics care due to cost or language barriers. Now that I understand the root causes of health inequalities, I hope to use my knowledge of 3D printing to reduce barriers to care for low-income patients.

What advice do you have for future graduates?

My advice to future graduates is to pursue as many of your interests as possible through the academic programs, research, and clubs offered at USC. I never would have thought that joining the 3D printing club for the fun of my first year would allow me to discover the field of prosthetics and lead me to decide to go to graduate school to become a practitioner.

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