DPT Student Earns Top USC Town and Gown Scholarship

MikkelsenPamela Mikkelsen, a student in the doctor of physical therapy program, was awarded a scholarship from Town and Gown of USC. She received $10,000, the largest amount given out by the organization.

Mikkelsen, a member of the class of 2014, told the Town and Gown committee that in her time at USC, she has learned that physical therapy is the best career choice for her because it perfectly blends her passions for both art and science.

“I use dance imagery when teaching patients what they should be feeling during an exercise,” she wrote in her Town and Gown scholarship application. “I teach the physics law of conservation of momentum to my junior high dance students so they can better understand their pirouette turns.”

Physical therapy is indeed rooted in science, but there is an art to understanding the body and to tailoring therapies the individual needs and limitations of different patients, she noted.

“I have never felt as at home and understood as I do in the world of PT,” she wrote in her Town and Gown application. “I get to combine my scientific knowledge, interest in human movement, and joy of teaching. It is a gratifying occupation where I feel I can best use my strengths while being continually renewed despite its many challenges.”

In addition to solidifying her old passion, she has also found new passions at USC. She has been a volunteer at Gabriel House in Mexico, working with the disabled children who live there, as part of the Division’s service learning program. She has also assisted research projects with Dr. Kornelia Kulig, who has studied and published on the biomechanics of dancers, and that is something she now hopes to pursue in the future.

For all of these reasons, she said, she knew she chose the best possible school and the best possible program for her.

Town and Gown of USC is the university’s oldest support organization. Now in its 109th year, Town and Gown of USC awards over 140 merit based scholarships, totaling nearly $1.3 million, of between $8,000 to $10,000 to graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of disciplines.