Thank You for Helping Our Students Become the Next Generation of Physical Therapists

Scholarship at the School and in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program makes impact on our students and their success. Thank you to alumni and friends for their generous support.

Hession Hogan ’04 Makes Her Mark in San Francisco

“I have nothing but fond memories of Pacific and I am proud to be an alumna.”

-Hession Hogan ’04 SLP

Hession Hogan2_resizedTuLips Speech Therapy, located on Union Street in San Francisco, was recently featured in a San Francisco Chronicle article.  TuLips is a charming storefront speech clinic owned by Pacific SLP alumna Hession Hogan ’04 and sister Maggie Hogan who is also an SLP.   The private practice provides speech therapy services to adults and children as young as 18 months old.

TuLips Speech Therapy offers walk-in speech therapy.  Hession explained that because they are on a busy street, it is easy for adults to stop in as they pass by and ask a question for themselves, their child or someone they know.  She went on to say that a lot of times drop-in clients say that they have been meaning to see a speech therapist, but didn’t know how to find one.

Prior to opening TuLips, Hession lived in New York City for several years and worked in a pediatric hospital.  Her patients had severe problems.  Hession reflected, “I remember thinking there must be a way I can help them because their physical therapist and occupational therapist were able to provide therapy—I was going to have to figure a way I would be able to help them as well.”

Hession Hogan_resizedHession was introduced to muscle based therapy and saw that helping these children to increase breath support; to be able to breathe on their own, to strengthen their jaw, tongue, and lip muscles so they would be able to eat and then to build on those skills and transition into speech sounds.  “I continue to apply those techniques on a daily basis,” noted Hession.  “I have several clients with rare syndromes whose parents drive from the North Bay, South Bay, and East Bay to bring them to speech therapy because there is no other speech therapist who can provide the type of therapy they need,” Hession explained.  Hession is certified in Oral Placement Therapy.  She currently is at Level Three and anticipates receiving Level Four certification early next year.  Hession is one of a handful of California Speech-Language Pathologists who are certified in this specialization.  It is a muscle based approach that can be used with anyone where traditional speech therapy is not benefiting them or when they have plateaued.

Reflecting on her experience at Pacific, Hession remarks, “I remember feeling very prepared once I graduated and was working during and after my Clinical Fellowship (CF) year.  I continue to recognize what an exceptional program Pacific has after speaking to others who felt like they were not prepared and did not have the confidence to be a speech therapist.”  Hession went on to say, “Pacific was well organized in making sure we turned in correct paperwork to the state and national boards at the right times.  The professors were very supportive throughout the program and want you to succeed.  I have nothing but fond memories of Pacific and I am proud to be an alumna.”

Read about their story in the San Francisco Chronicle here.



Gloria Lee ’14: Making a Difference One Connection at a Time

Gloria Lee_resizedWhile many students were spending their summer vacations riding the waves or soaking up the sun at the beach, Gloria Lee ’14 spent her summer with Adventures in Communications at Camp Meadowood Springs in Oregon and providing health screenings to the local communities in Honduras.

As a student clinician, Lee worked with children with communications and social learning challenges. She saw three clients a week and provided two hours of therapy during each session. She also provided additional therapy sessions throughout the day during activities such as confidence courses, arts and crafts, zip line canopies, canoeing, nature hikes, and swimming as well as many others.

It was through Lee’s Pacific connections that she learned about this unique opportunity. One of her classmates was a recent student clinician and gave a presentation about how the Camp changed her life.

Lee’s trip to Honduras was also a result of her Pacific connection. Lee traveled with Michael Chuang ’14, Lee’s boyfriend and a student pharmacist, and the Rho Pi Phi Fraternity to Honduras where they shadowed doctors, gynecologists, dentists, pharmacists, and other health care practitioners. In addition, they provided free community health services at local schools such as blood pressure screenings and taught kids how to brush their teeth.

Her favorite memory was “hearing my client say basic words like cat and bathroom in Spanish for the first time. I was so excited.”

“I learned to be flexible with the children because different things work with different kids and we must learn to adapt to each of their needs. It made me more confident in what I had already learned and that speech is really what I wanted to do,” said Lee.

Lee initially came to Pacific as a candidate in the two-three pre-pharmacy advantage program after being inspired by her mom, a pharmacist and alumna of the School. Although she had completed her requirements to apply to the doctor of pharmacy program, she quickly changed her mind after a friend told her about the speech-language pathology program.

“I always knew that I enjoyed helping people, working with kids and loved language and literacy. It is my passion. When I learned about the opportunities that the speech-language pathology program had to offer, I knew it was the right career path for me,” said Lee. She said after speaking about the program further with Professor Simalee Smith-Stubblefield ’82 she was even more excited because the profession would “allow me to work with people of all age groups and work in all type of settings.”

Currently she serves as the co-chair for fundraising on Pacific’s National Student Speech-Hearing-Language Association executive board, is secretary and bible study leader in Delta Delta Delta Fraternity, and serves as a Pacific Ambassador. She is also heavily involved with Relay for Life where she served three years as captain in high school and again last year here at Pacific. She hopes to continue to travel on mission trips and travel to third world countries to provide health services. After graduation, Lee hopes to continue her education here at Pacific in the master’s of speech-language pathology program.


Alex Ray ’07 Opens Up About His New Clinic

Alex Ray_resizedAlex Ray ‘07 and his wife Nicole, own North Area Physical Therapy in Carmichael, California. I recently visited Alex where I toured the clinic and asked a few questions:


Susan: You take Pacific Physical Therapy students as a Clinical Instructor (CI). What is that like?

Alex: I have been pleased with the students from Pacific that I have worked with. Pacific students seem to have a broad range of what they have been exposed to and bring some new ideas and current physical therapy education to our more experienced staff.

What advice would you give a new grad as they enter the profession?
I would advise students to think of the first year of school as another step in their education and to absorb as much as possible, by year three out of school I think you tend to feel much more comfortable with whatever rolls through the door no matter what area of expertise you have begun to develop.

You and your wife Nicole purchased North Area Physical Therapy in 2012. Do you have advice for PT grads or students who would like to own a private practice?
For students thinking about owning private practice, I would advise taking a basic business management class, possibly interning with an owner as your CI. Getting exposure to as much of the billing and insurance authorization seems tedious but it is part of making PT a viable resource for patients to have access to.

NAPT has a great therapy pool! How does aquatic therapy benefit your patients?
Aquatic therapy has been an invaluable tool to utilize in the clinic. Most of the people we see have multiple co-morbidities or injury history other than what they are being referred for, the pool often gives people a chance who do not know how to get started on an exercise program.

Tell us about your family.
I married my wife Nicole during PT school and we have a three and a half year old son named Carson and a three month old daughter named Evelyne. I play some softball and am set to go to SF Giants baseball fantasy camp in January for the second time with my Dad and younger brother. I can’t wait to coach Little League.

Your clinic specializes in PT and sports medicine. Can you explain the difference? What type of athletes do you treat in your clinic?
Our clinic specializes in sports injuries which are usually the weekend warrior type or the high school soccer player. I love training an athlete with a specific goal to return to and really apply these concepts to our patients whether they are eight or eighty-eight years old.

What was your favorite class during PT school?
I really liked Neuro and Ortho labs and our Neuro professor Peggy Roller and Orthopedic professor Tamara Little (Phelan). Christy Wilson was my advisor when I first walked onto campus and she made me feel comfortable with my choice to attend grad school and deal with the outside stress of life.

Any words of wisdom for our current Physical Therapy Students?
I miss school and urge my students to enjoy that time in their career that they can never really replicate. You will always band together as a group to complain about tests, schedules, and presentations, but in the end you will really appreciate the experience at Pacific.



Taking Lessons from Wheelchair Patients

When Shiren Assaly ’11 and Garrett Norris ’11 were given an opportunity to take part in the Rotary Wheelchair Distribution in Peru, they had more than a few reasons to say yes.

“I went there to help others live a better life, and little did I know that they would change my life in such a positive and inspirational way,” said Shiren. “This mission was a good way to learn more about physical therapy and at the same time it gave me a chance to see Peru,” added Garrett.

The wheelchair distribution missions are organized through a partnership with the Department of Physical Therapy and Rotary International with support from Equip Kids and Hope Haven International which work to provide wheelchair customization and fitting to adults and children in third-world countries such as Peru. In 2010 two student physical therapists visited Guatemala, Mexico.

Shiren and Garrett spent much of their time in Peru at the Clinica San Juan De Dios, both in Cuzco and Chiclayo, supporting the wheelchair distribution mission. Their responsibilities included evaluating the individuals’ condition and taking measurements to assess for head support, lateral trunk support, seat depth, and tilt angles to make sure the individual were well-fitted.

Prior to leaving for the trip, Shiren and Garrett met with Pacific faculty members to gain a better understanding of the cultural differences. The students also took lessons in Spanish, which is one of the main languages in Peru, to help improve their communication skills abroad.

For the student physical therapists, taking lessons in Spanish was just the first step in breaking the barrier when working with their patients. Garrett recalled a moment when he set himself up as a target in order to encourage his patient to use his arm to push himself in the wheelchair. “Sometimes all it takes is playing games to motivate the patient to perform at his full potential while in the wheelchair. It was a lot of fun,” commented Garrett.

While Shiren and Garrett had hoped to educate their patients about how important a well-fitted wheelchair is and the usability of the wheelchair, they were also taking lessons from their patients.

“The people I met throughout my experiences taught me life lessons in compassion, adversity and determination. The strength and courage of the Peruvian people has shown me the importance of working hard and always believing in myself,” says Shiren. “I learned to not take anything for granted. We are all extremely lucky to be where we are and have healthy lives. Not everywhere in the world is like the U.S,” Garrett responded.

The school provides a number of experiences such as this one, and the students enjoy them. Shiren and Garret hope that many student physical therapists will follow in their footsteps.

“It is a learning experience that will allow the students to enhance their knowledge, share in a once in a lifetime opportunity, and make a difference in the world of others,” they agreed.


Dr. Cathy Peterson Awarded Fulbright Grant

This year University of the Pacific set a new record for receiving prestigious scholarships with four members of the University – two faculty members and two students – receiving Fulbright grants;  one of which is our very own Dr. Cathy Peterson, Department Chair and Associate Professor for Physical Therapy.  In January, Dr. Peterson was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach and conduct research in Malawi.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The program has provided almost 300,000 participants —chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

In January 2012, Dr. Peterson will be teaching Physical Therapy courses at the Malawi College of Medicine.  “I am honored to have been selected for this grant and the ensuing opportunity to contribute to the development of a new physical therapy program in Malawi,” Peterson said. “With only 28 physical therapists in a country of approximately 14 million people, this new Physical Therapy program is essential for improving healthcare.

Dr. Peterson will also be completing a case study on a man with Guillian Barre Syndrome, a progressive autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system attacks itself.   In a culture that believes in black magic many community members believe that he has been ‘ju-ju’d’ or cursed. Dr. Peterson plans to describe how the clash between the medical system and his social support resulted in him being ostracized from his village.

This will be Dr. Peterson’s fifth visit to Malawi.  Most recently she travelled there with seven Rotarians and her father to deliver medical supplies.  Before that, during three Pacific-funded visits, she established an internship site for Pacific’s Doctor of Physical Therapy students. She met with all 28 physical therapists in the country to learn about their educational experiences and how Pacific could help them become faculty members for the newly developed physical therapy program in Malawi.  She will be preparing a manuscript describing their learning styles and preferences.

The Fulbright grant will help cover the costs for airfare, provide a stipend for teaching supplies and books, and a living stipend to offset housing or provide housing.  Teaching supplies and books purchased in Malawi will remain there for use in the School.

Dr. Peterson’s Fulbright Teaching Award will be mutually beneficial for her hosts in Malawi, her Pacific students and colleagues, and her.  Her Malawian colleagues and their students will have at their disposal a dedicated and successful teacher with expertise fitting their areas of need.  In addition, her experience as an academic administrator will be an asset to this newly developed program with a physical therapist new to academia and administration at the helm.  She and her Pacific colleagues and students will benefit because she will no doubt be shaped significantly by this experience and will share the learning with her students and colleagues and her perspective will continue to grow in depth and breadth.

In addition to her academic endeavors she will undoubtedly enjoy the adventures of Malawi—village shopping, Malawian cuisine, and of course, a safari here and there.

Fun in the Sun

On July 24, 2011, the Pacific Academy of Student Pharmacists (ASP) hosted their annual Spring Picnic with nearly 400 students and faculty members in attendance.  The students were able to socialize with friends, enjoy great food, and get some Vitamin D after spending much time in the Rotunda and PHS115 for the week preparing for exams. Thanks to the Dental Hygiene, Physical Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology students for coming out to join the “Pharmers” for some fun in the sun.

The picnic started off with free t-shirts (sponsored by Walgreens and designed by the talented Antionette Dinh ‘13) and “stunna” shades featuring the new ASP website at – come check it out.  Water gun fights started and students bombarded the inflatable bounce house and water slide.  Some geared up for sumo wrestler fights and mechanical bull riding, while others tried to dunk professors and pharmacy fraternity presidents at the dunk tank with softballs and soccer balls.  Thanks to Dr. Xin Guo, Dr. Wade Russu, and Miss Tea from the Café for volunteering. The dunk tank was run by Phi Delta Chi, and raised over $400 to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

After working up an appetite, a mass exodus of students formed lines for food and raffle prize tickets.  Lunch was catered by Carniceria La Sierra in Stockton.  They came out with their food trailers to grill chicken, tri-tip, sausages, and kabobs – it was delicious! After lunch the bake-off began with our Walgreen representatives as the judges. They sampled peanut butter cookies, cobbler, and apple cake, among other mouth-watering baked goods. Christine Giang ‘12 was selected as the winner for her Guiness Chocolate Cupcakes. Clara Chia ‘13, the bake-off organizer, said, “I’m really thankful for the Walgreens representatives for coming out and helping us with the bake-off competition.  I hope they enjoyed taste-testing the desserts prepared by our own students.”

The watermelon eating contest gathered some last minute contenders to see who could eat their watermelon quarter the fastest – with no hands, of course. A crowd gathered and students cheered as their fellow classmates dove into their slices.  Antionette won the contest after receiving the loudest cheers for her finished watermelon quarter slice.

Special thanks to the ASP Board and Semester Officers (Alex Vu ‘13, Chintan Shah ‘13, Jennifer Lee ‘13, Antoinette Dinh ‘13, Barrett Smith ‘13, Christian Ngo ‘13, Clara Chia ‘13, Michelle Malewski ‘13, and Allison Lai ’13) for putting on a great event to gear up for finals. Thank you Walgreens for another successful Spring Picnic!

To learn more about what our students do and view more pictures from the picnic, visit

Stephen Chan ’11: Balance is the Key

If you’re ever looking for Stephen Chan ’11, you’ll more than likely find him outdoors playing sports or bicycling. His love for sports and the Department of Physical Therapy’s accelerated program, good reputation, and the beauty of the University’s campus is what brought him to Pacific.

Chan received his Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Biology from the University of California, Davis and is a member of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2011. He became interested in physical therapy as an intern at the UC Davis Medical Center working alongside physical therapists. He chose physical therapy because he wanted to promote health and provide services that will help change people’s lives.

As he completes his final exams and prepares for clinical internships, he recalls his most memorable moments were those shared with his classmates and taking courses with Dr. Jim Mansoor, PhD, Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy. “I enjoyed working in groups because it was fun. Four-hour lab sessions never felt too long,” says Chan.

He also shared some advice on how to become a successful student physical therapist. “It’s important to practice good time management and study habits because it’s important to find a good balance,” says Chan.

Chan was born and raised in San Jose, CA and is the youngest of two sons. He will be doing his clinical internships in Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Diego.

Dr. Michael Susca: Challenging but Fair

When student speech-language pathologists hear the name Dr. Michael Susca, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD, their first thoughts are of how his courses are not only challenging but rewarding. “Students usually say I’m hard but fair,” says Dr. Susca, who believes in enabling students to step outside their comfort zones for learning.

Dr. Susca is an Associate Professor in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and has been at Pacific since 2001. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Santa Barbara, Master of Science degree at the University of New Mexico, and his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Nebraska. He is also one of approximately 200 Board Recognized Specialists in Fluency Disorders in the United States.

At a young age, Dr. Susca battled with stuttering and received speech therapy form third grade until his undergraduate years at University of Santa Barbara. It was his relationship with his speech-language pathologist that inspired him to study communication disorders. Today, Dr. Susca, who now speaks fluently, provides various clinical services for people who stutter.

Pumpkin dedicated to his years as a member on the Pacific Rowing Team

Dr. Susca praises the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA, for their efforts in educating the communities, local schools for identifying the need for speech therapy, speech-language pathologists in private practice for their distinguished work, and the media for presenting communication disorders in a positive light.

In the Oscar and Grammy award-winning film “The King’s Speech,” an Australian man named Lionel Logue works closely with King George VI to manage the king’s stuttering during radio speeches given in World War II. The movie depicts many of the complexities associated with stuttering.

“Stuttering has often been associated with people of low intelligence.  One reason the King’s Speech was a great film is that an individual with a stutter was also depicted as an intelligent man, a king,” commented Dr. Susca.  Today ASHA represents more than 145, 000 professionals who treat communication disorders.

His advice for students who are preparing for graduate school and for the profession is that they “think outside the box, challenge not only the authority but their own thinking, assume little, and continue learning.” Dr. Susca states a belief that his personal therapist and Logue were successful because of these reasons and because they had deep “knowledge, pushed the edge of the envelope, were creative, and developed a relationship with their patients.”

Dr. Susca is a humble man with a deep passion for his profession, patients, and students. Although he refrained from boasting his impressive list of accomplishments, he did share a few. In 2007, Dr. Susca was the director of the thesis The Effect of Phonological and Semantic Cues on Word Retrieval in Adults given by Katheryn Elizabeth Burrill, BS. At that time, it was the first thesis that had been defended in 23 years in his department at Pacific.

Pumpkin dedicated to his years as a member on the Pacific Rowing Team

Dr. Susca is an organic gardener and enjoys carving pumpkins for leisure and competitively known as “Mike the Knife,” sailing, poetry, and the thrill of skydiving which includes a total of 128 jumps. He lives in Stockton with his wife Mary Alice and his sons Galen and Ethan. Ethan is currently a junior at Harvey Mudd College.