Welcome Wednesdays


FROM SEPT. 23 THROUGH OCT. 28, we ran a weekly Instagram series titled “Welcome Wednesdays,” where we showcased USC BKNPT community members who have been made to feel welcome here at the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, political affiliations, etc. We are committed to fostering a welcoming, warm and inclusive environment for our community members to thrive in. Read on to hear some of the ways our faculty and students have been made to feel included.

“In the time I’ve been a member of this division, I’ve never experienced any form of discrimination or negativity because of who I am. Since first coming out to my peers and the faculty, I’ve never felt like I’ve had to hide the fact that I’m gay or worry about how it will impact my relationships here. The LGBTQ+ community is constantly reminded that much of society still considers us second class citizens unworthy of the same rights as the straight population. I’m thankful to have found a place where I’ve felt accepted and where who I love is a non-issue.”

—Justin Tong DPT ’21


“Being a non-resident graduate student can be very stressful sometimes. Even if you maintain a legal status, you can still wake up one day to find that immigration laws have changed, and now you have to face the struggle of continuing your education, remaining legally in the country, or having to leave! The division of BKN and PT have supported us time and time again through these uncertain times by several means of adjusting curriculums during a pandemic to emotional support to insuring us that this matter is as important to them and helping us through it. So grateful things ended up working out and that I am still able to be part of the USC family✌🏼”

—Sara Almansouri MS ’17, PhD ’21


“My name is Teasley. I identify as nonbinary, and use they/them pronouns. Since beginning my program in 2016, I have seen USC’s BKN division grow profoundly in support of gender expansive folks. Some changes were relatively quick – for example, establishing an all gender restroom in the CHP building. For more systemic changes, I have felt comfortable approaching division faculty change-makers to dialogue together as equals. It’s less important that the culture be already “perfect,” than that the faculty cultivate an environment of open ears and open minds. After all, as true academics and clinicians, we must continuously strive to incorporate emerging data to generate creative solutions with humility and grace.”

—L. Teasley DPT ’19


“I have a vision that our division will continue to grow into a place where all students, faculty, and staff feel welcome as their authentic selves. To build that kind of space, we need to consider radical inclusion of all people including those of all political persuasions. In recent reflection, I have become aware of how frequently I have excluded individuals in my own communities by assuming everyone in the room voted the same way I did or, worse, by assuming ill-will of those who voted differently. I was unwittingly shutting down many opportunities for conversation and connection. Now, as an (ever-growing 🌱 and learning) ambassador for belonging, I can see the value of engaging all members of our community and their varying political perspectives. Whatever your political persuasion, as long as you are willing to join me in the pursuit to make our community a space where all individuals will be celebrated as their authentic selves, then, to me, you are welcome here.”

—Libby Krause DPT ’13


“The birth of my daughter took place during my first year as a member of the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, and the love and support from everyone has been incredible. The students cheered when I left class for her birth, and the faculty have been accommodating and supportive every step of the way. I appreciate that every faculty member has shown me that “family first” really is a priority while being a part of this program.”

—Ian Lesser DPT ’21


“Growing up homeless is humbling and the life lessons you learn along the way add to this unique experience. What matters most is knowing what it is like to have absolutely nothing aside from the clothes on your back as it teaches you to be able to embrace the warmth when you are greeted into something bigger than yourself. The decision to have my life turned around by attending the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy doctoral program is one without regrets. My classmates along with staff and faculty across campus have welcomed me beyond what words can explain. With my situation, cost was the biggest factor, understandably, but through extensive research I found there are options out there that made attending this program become a reality. The division offers scholarships, public and private funding sources and there are loans that have all made this journey possible.”

—Mich Hamlin DPT ’21