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Division welcomes Emma Stokes as 2023 Commencement Speaker

Emma Stokes portrait

Stokes is the president of World Physiotherapy, an international organization representing more than 600,000 physiotherapists around the globe.


THE USC DIVISION OF BIOKINESIOLOGY AND PHYSICAL THERAPY will welcome Dr. Emma Stokes to deliver the keynote at its satellite ceremony for 2023 Commencement.

“Emma Stokes is one of the most famous physical therapists in the world,” said Associate Dean and Chair James Gordon. “She has been president of World Physiotherapy, the international organization that brings together all the world’s national physical therapy associations, since 2015. In this role, she has been a leader in advocating for access to physiotherapy as a key component to improving global health.”

A physical therapist/physiotherapist since 1990, Stokes has been an educator for more than two decades, currently serving as the vice president for global engagement for Trinity College Dublin.

She’s been incredibly active on the global stage, advocating for people around the globe to have access to physical therapy services. In addition to her role as president of World Physiotherapy, in 2018, she moved to the Middle East to set up the first academic department of physiotherapy and rehabilitation science at Qatar University.

“It is an absolute honor to have been invited to deliver the Commencement address for USC Physical Therapy,” Stokes said. “As I come to the end of my eight years as president of World Physiotherapy, it is an opportunity to reflect on what one of my final messages in the role will be to the next generation of physical therapists.”

Stokes will deliver her remarks at the Division’s satellite ceremony, taking place on Friday, May 12 at 3 p.m. at Bovard Auditorium on USC’s University Park Campus.

She hopes the audience will walk away with an “excitement about our profession and a commitment to my call to action about participation in their own and our global professional community.”

Stokes is a Fellow at both Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists and was instrumental in the founding of the Global Rehabilitation Alliance, the precursor to the World Health Organization’s World Rehabilitation Alliance. She has taught and lectured in more than 40 countries around the world.

Looking back to the beginning of her own career, Stokes offers Class of 2023 graduates these words of advice: “Trust that the opportunities to volunteer, the chances to do something different, the risks that you take will be greater than the sum of their parts — they will all connect in the future, and your life will be richer for them.”