Joseph Christian Ungco (Photo/Heather Van Buren)

Joseph Christian Ungco, MA, has a clear vision for the profession’s future. Thanks in part to the occupational therapy doctorate degree he will receive May 12 during the 75th annual commencement ceremony of the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Ungco is now bringing it to fruition.

The four-time Trojan and New York native, who already is licensed and working back in Manhattan, is determined to advance occupational therapy’s capacity for meeting the specific health needs of LGBTQ populations, particularly clients who are transgender and otherwise fluid in regards to the gender spectrum.

“The OTD program at USC really empowers people who can see occupational therapy’s distinct value,” Ungco said, “especially in ways that the profession has yet to explore.”

Between interning at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Services Program, co-teaching a course on clinical strategies for inclusivity and developing a capstone project, Ungco’s doctoral experience has been a multi-faceted year of innovation and leadership in queer health. Turning one’s passions into actions is at the heart of USC’s OTD program, Ungco said.

“If it doesn’t exist, you can make it a reality.”

— Mike McNulty