Meet our scholarship recipients: Karyn Wong

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Karyn Wong is a 2020 recipient of the Keck School of Medicine scholarship for incoming master’s students. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at USC.

What has been your journey over the last few years?

Karyn Wong (Image courtesy Karyn Wong)

I graduated from UC San Diego in 2015 with a BS in General Biology. I spent the last 5 years working at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation department as the Lead Physical Therapy Aide. I recently transitioned to the role of Infection Control Coordinator in the Quality Management department. In my free time, I like to cook, bake, hike, and read.

What drives you to get involved in the public health and population sciences field?

Public health is where my interests in preventive medicine, the biology of diseases, and the delivery of quality, patient-centered care to all communities intersect. My undergraduate degree provided me a strong foundation in biological sciences and I have always wanted to find ways to use that knowledge to impact the health of communities as a whole and subsequently, the health of each person individually. Working in an acute care hospital, specifically in the infection control department and in the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation department, has led me to always question what can be done to prevent diseases and injuries from happening while still having the capacity to treat them.

What led you to pursue an MPH degree at USC?

I chose this program at USC because of the many resources and opportunities available to help shape my educational experience and career, including the curriculum, practicum and large network of alumni and partnerships USC has developed.

What does this scholarship mean to you?

I am so grateful and humbled to have been awarded this scholarship as it a truly a gift during my time in this program and during my pursuit of academic excellence. I am relieved that the cost of tuition is not a barrier to attend this prestigious university and is not a stressor during my time in the program. It is also injects a bit of confidence in me and it motivates me knowing I was awarded this scholarship because you all saw potential in me and my abilities.

What has been your experience at USC so far?

My first semester at USC was different from what I had envisioned as we were completely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, it was a great semester and I felt like I connected with classmates, professors, and program staff. My favorite class thus far is PM 502 with Dr. Cousineau. It was interesting to learn about the foundations of public health while simultaneously experiencing first-hand a pandemic and the public health response to it. In addition, we spent one session reflecting on the life and career of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her impact on public health. Special guests were brought in to give their perspective and it was deeply moving to hear how Justice Ginsburg touched the lives of all in some way or another.

How do you see your degree helping to drive your future?

My degree will provide me the foundation necessary to impact population and individual health simultaneously. It will help shape me into a public health leader who seeks to better the health of all communities and to shape the delivery of healthcare to meet the needs of our growing and diverse population.

How are you making a difference in public health outside of the classroom?

I am currently working at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital as an Infection Control Coordinator.

What message would you like to share with your scholarship donor?

A big thank you for the scholarship. Thank you for recognizing my potential and believing in me and my abilities. I am humbled and honored.