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The USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy embraces diversity, anti-racism and inclusion and emphasizes the importance of these core values across our division, including how we partner with and support the greater Los Angeles community.


In the Fall of 2020, the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy announced that “our community of faculty, staff and students recognize that we cannot excel in the practice of physical therapy while ignoring the racism that permeates the system in which we practice. We developed our Division’s 2020-2021 Comprehensive Anti-Racism Plan in order to begin the process of becoming an anti-racist organization.

We made great accomplishments over the past year, however, it is essential for our community to continue the work we have begun. The pervasive injustices that inhabit higher education and our health care system require us to be consistent and tenacious. Therefore, we choose to continue to guide our work with objective and measurable goals through this next year. Our set of goals for the 2021-2022 academic year will guide us through our second year of work towards being a more equitable, diverse, inclusive and anti-racist community.


The Diversity, Anti-Racism, Inclusion, and Community Engagement (DARIC) Council guides the division’s strategic priorities to foster diversity in the recruitment and retention of our students, staff and faculty; provide an inclusive, anti-racist environment where all members of the community are valued and feel welcomed; and to promote population health equity.

  • Engage the USC BKN & PT community in the recruitment, retention and advancement of diverse faculty, staff and students.
  • Nurture a culture within the division that actively identifies, challenges and changes institutional policies, practices and procedures that perpetuate systemic racism.
  • Promote a sense of belonging and respect for all.
  • Provide mechanisms for students, staff and faculty to seek support when they are confronted with biased attitudes and behaviors.
  • Enhance health outcomes by partnering with the surrounding community to inform the work of the division.
Council Membership
The membership of the council consists of the following:


The USC Physical Therapy Multicultural Leadership Alliance (PTMLA) is a student-run organization striving to raise awareness about physical therapy as a profession and healthcare service. The leadership and service opportunities afforded through outreach events and educational programs at local schools are enriching for both the students and communities involved. PTMLA is active in serving global communities in need and promoting awareness of PT as a profession in the local community. With more than 10 years of history at USC, its members have grown from being leaders in the classroom to being leaders in the health care field.


“Promote cultural competency within the Physical Therapy profession through educational programming, service learning, fundraising and advocacy for PT as a career option. Through acceptance, fun learning environment, and support, PTMLA members will gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be cultural experts within the PT profession.”

Follow USC PTMLA on Social Media:
Facebook: @uscptmla
Instagram: @uscptmla

Learn More
Asian Pacific Islander Student Affinity Group

The Asian Pacific Islander Student Affinity Group is a group dedicated to promoting knowledge regarding the Asian Pacific Islander experience to all USC BKNPT students, faculty and alumni.

We hope to provide group members with knowledge, networking opportunities, mentorship connections and community during our open group discussions about current events/history and hosting speakers.

Faculty Advisor:

Jonathan Sum


Student Leaders:

Danni Barton
Ariel Codilla
Christine Fernando
Angel Firmalon
Martina Gutierrez
Jordan Hsu
Steven Liang
Marlene Loui
Anne Macrohon
Ale Marenzi
Lindsay Masukawa
Michelle Ng
Stacy Truong

Black Student Affinity Group

The Black Students Affinity Group is a student led group that provides a safe space for Black students within the Division. Our meetings serve as a place for Black students to build a supportive community as well as share challenges that others in the group can identify with and provide support and resources for. Additional benefits to the group include opportunities for leadership, mentorship and encouraging Black students and allies to make positive change within our Division and communities.

Faculty Advisors:

James Finley

Didi Matthews

Student Leaders:

Morgan Boyd
Keyshawn Carter
Jazlin Gibson
Nhandi Scott



Caregiver Affinity Group

The Caregiver Affinity Group (CAG) is a student-led group with an open invitation for individuals within the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy (students, faculty and staff) who, along with managing school/career/self, have a stake in caregiving for another person.  Caregiving can take many forms, for example — care for children, older adults and significant others.  The purpose of the CAG is to provide a safe space for caregivers and their partners to develop a community of inquiry around the important aspects of caregiving, provide support for each other and offer an outlet for stress management.  In addition, the CAG will strive to provide advocacy when issues arise within the Division that affect caregivers and their families.  The CAG is open to all who wish to be a part of this community of learning around caregiving.

Faculty Advisors:

Michael Andersen

Claire Nguyen


Student Leader:

Tommy Wolfe

International Students and Allies Affinity Group

The goal of the International Students and Allies Affinity Group (ISAAG) is to create a multicultural community for international students to share, inquire and support each other as they pursue their educational, professional and personal goals at the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at USC. Our group comprises students, post-docs, staff and faculty who are non-residents, residents and citizens. We will provide a safe space for international students and allies to discuss topics such as immigration, English as a second language, inclusion and living in the United States.

Faculty Advisor:

Kornelia Kulig

Student Leaders:

Pooja Iyer
Shreya Jain
Seigo Kuwano

Latinx Student Affinity Group

Faculty Advisor:

Oscar Gallardo

Student Leaders:

Tania Funes
Karina Rodriguez
Daniel Salinas
Rafael Uribe


LGBTQQIA+ Student Affinity Group

The LGBTQQIA+ Affinity Group provides a closed space for members of the Division who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual or as a member of another minoritized gender identity or sexual orientation. We meet to support each other, explore ways to improve culture and inclusivity in the Division and have fun! We also host open sessions for allies to join us in these discussions.

Faculty Advisors:

Pamela Mikkelsen

Amy Pomrantz

Student Leaders:

David Ortiz


Middle Eastern Student Affinity Group

The Middle Eastern Affinity Group is a Division organization run by students that seeks to provide a safe and informative community for people of Middle Eastern ethnicity and/or affiliation to discuss their cultural experiences, concerns and opportunities regarding being a student, alumnus, faculty member or staff member at USC and in the US.  Of particular interest is how these experiences shape physical therapy practice, education and research.

To date the group has explored the following topics:

  • Cultural similarities and differences
  • Our diverse ethnic backgrounds
  • Systemic racism and injustice towards our ethnic groups
  • Frustrations, challenges, and experiences in life, academia, and in the clinical setting
  • Ideas about how to move forward and improve life for us as middle easterners in society and in the academic setting
  • Establish faculty/alumni-student mentorship relationships

Faculty Advisor:

Joseph Derian

Student Leader:

Anna Michel

Students Exploring Anti-Racism Community Huddle (SEARCH)

SEARCH exists for students to explore, process and learn in an interactive and reflective manner on how to be better allies and advocates in the pursuit of being anti-racist. These discussions are intended to stimulate personal growth by creating a safe place to progress as well as explore what it looks like to be increasingly anti-racist as an individual, a DPT student, a healthcare provider, as well as a member of our local, national and global community. The intention is to give primarily White and non-Black persons the opportunity to discuss race and our role in equality and equity without overburdening our Black peers, but all are welcome. We hope to augment the work of Black, Indigenous AND People of Color by uplifting and supporting PTMLA and other student affinity groups.

Faculty Advisor:

Beth Fisher

Student Leaders:

Bailey McLagan
Jack Wallace

Veteran's/Military Family

Faculty Advisor:

Monica Nelsen

Student Leader:

Alicia Correa



USC has partnered with Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically Black university, to create a pipeline for promising students interested in entering the field of physical therapy.

Once accepted into the program, XULA students will receive mentorship from USC faculty members as well as summer opportunities to gain research clinical experience.

After graduating from XULA, Early Assurance Program students will be admitted to USC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, given they’ve completed all program requirements, including maintaining a 3.2 GPA and completing all prerequisite courses and required clinical experience hours.


Nearly 80 percent of the physical therapy profession is Caucasian, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is our goal to increase the number of individuals from underrepresented, historically marginalized groups in the profession, mirroring the societal makeup of the patients we treat. The following show how our efforts compare to U.S. national averages.

Line chart showing Division's recruitment of underrepresented populations is way above the national average and is going up each year.


We take bias, bigotry and hate very seriously and want every member of our community to feel welcome and safe. We encourage all community members who have witnessed or experienced a bias incident to report it. You may do so by following the link below. Your report can be completely anonymous (we do not even track IP addresses) if you would like. You can include your name and contact information, if you would like a follow-up. Your report will be directed to the Chair of the Diversity, Anti-Racism, Inclusion and Community Engagement Council for further review and resolution. Note: If you have witnessed a crime, or feel you are in immediate danger, please contact the USC Department of Public Safety at (323) 442-1000 for emergencies and (323) 442-1200 for non-emergencies.