Class of 2017 - Commencement Profiles

On Friday, May 12, 2017, the Class of 2017 will gather at Bovard Auditorium to celebrate their accomplishments and take the next step on their career paths. Meet three USC DPT graduates, to be featured in 
HSC News, in its upcoming commencement coverage:

Commencement 2017 feature picsPictured L-R: Erica Lynn Harris, Kelsie Kaiser and Shannon Meggs

1. Erica Lynn Harris DPT ’17

Erica Lynn Harris began her undergraduate studies in biochemistry — until her sophomore year when she developed a profound appreciation for physical sciences and caring for others. 

As a former athlete, Harris was instantly hooked to the relationship physical therapy had with sports.

“The profession involves my own physical labor, which helps satisfy my athletic desires because I have to practice and master my physical skills to make my patients successful,” Harris says.

Harris plans to extend her education to aspecialty that involves athletics. Following graduation, she will move to Fort Worth, Texas for her sports physical therapy residency at Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine.

“I wanted to be in an environment where I can always learn and challenge myself mentally and physically while working alongside others with a common goal,” says Harris, a USC Order of Arete Award winner.

Harris also hopes to contribute to the profession by helping people become more autonomous through education and awareness.

“I would like to be a bridge to the community by providing education and resources to empower parents and young athletes to prevent injuries so that they have longer and healthier careers,” Harris says.

—Yasmine Pezeshkpour MCM ’16


2. Kelsie Kaiser DPT ’17

Kelsie Kaiser knew she wanted to be a physical therapist after shadowing a USC physical therapist during high school.

“The experience opened my eyes to the impact that a physical therapist can have,” Kaiser says. “A physical therapist not only improves how someone moves but also improves the patient’s quality of life.”

The Michigan native began her studies in sunny Southern California in 2014. While at USC, she earned an Academic Excellence Scholarship and a Josette Antonelli Division Service Scholarship. She also served as her class’ president and a San Gabriel Valley District Student Liaison for the California Physical Therapy Association. She graduates with USC’s Order of Areté Award, given to outstanding graduate students whose dedication to leadership and community service go beyond that of their peers.

But it’s as a “caring individual who dedicated her time to producing three great years for each person at the USC DPT program” that she hopes to be remembered.

Kaiser will next enter USC’s orthopedic residency program where she hopes to further refine her skills to become an orthopedic clinical specialist. She also hopes to teach in a doctor of physical therapy program where she can help foster continuous growth of the profession and perform research to further expand the profession’s knowledge base.

—John Hobbs MA ’14


3. Shannon Meggs DPT ’17

Shannon Meggs first became interested in physical therapy as an undergraduate, working as both an athletic training student and a physical therapy aide.

“It was through both of these experiences that I developed a passion for the profession and knew I wanted to be a physical therapist,” she says.

During the past three years, the Tampa, Fla., native has dedicated herself to getting the best education possible to be ableto help others as a physical therapist.

I love physical therapy because it gives me the opportunity to help improve a patient's quality of life through education, exercise and manual interventions.

Now, just weeks shy from becoming Dr. Meggs, the USC Order of Areté recipient is about to embark on the next chapter of her career — a sports residency with USC Athletics.

Looking back on her time at USC so far, Meggs says the most valuable lesson she has learned has been the importance of being a lifelong learner.

“One of the best lessons I learned during my time in graduate school is that you should learn for the sake of knowledge — and not just to pass a test,” she says. “When you approach learning from this perspective, it makes learning enjoyable. 

—Yasmine Pezeshkpour MCM ’16