Pamela Mikkelsen, a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, has been awarded a $10,000 scholarship from Town and Gown of USC, the university’s oldest support organization.
Mikkelsen, a member of the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy, told the Town and Gown committee that in her time at USC, she has learned that physical therapy is the best career choice for her because it appeals to her interests in both art and science.
“I use dance imagery when teaching patients what they should be feeling during an exercise,” she wrote in her scholarship application. “I teach the physics law of conservation of momentum to my junior high dance students so they can better understand their pirouette turns.”
Physical therapy is rooted in science, but there is an art to understanding the body and to recommending therapies the individual needs, she noted.
“I have never felt as at home and understood as I do in the world of PT,” she wrote. “I get to combine my scientific knowledge, interest in human movement and joy of teaching. It is a gratifying occupation where I feel I can best use my strengths while being continually renewed despite its many challenges.”
Mikkelsen has been a volunteer at Gabriel House in Mexico, working with the disabled children who live there, as part of the USC division’s service learning program. She has also assisted research projects with Kornelia Kulig, who has studied and published on the biomechanics of dancers, a subject that Mikkelsen hopes to pursue in the future.
Now in its 109th year, Town and Gown of USC awards more than 140 merit-based scholarships totaling nearly $1.3 million, of between $8,000 to $10,000, to graduate and undergraduate students in a variety of disciplines.