Meet JCU Psychological Science Alumna Antonia Gomez

Antonia Gomez is a JCU alumna born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated in 2022 with a B.A. in Psychological Science and is now pursuing a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California.

Antonia Gomez
Antonia Gomez

What made you decide to transfer to JCU?
I attended JCU in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 as a University of Southern California (USC) study abroad student. When Covid hit, everyone was online and I decided to stay in Rome rather than move back to Los Angeles, because I loved everything about the JCU community, including the many friends I made. In 2020, JCU added a Psychological Sciences major, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to come back to Rome, a city that I love! 

Why did you choose to pursue a B.A. in Psychological Science?
I have been interested in occupational therapy since high school, but when I applied to JCU, I decided that psychology would be the best fit. I wanted to keep an open mind toward my future and have more options to choose from in case I discovered any other passion in the psychological field.

You’re currently pursuing a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California. Why did you choose this program? What was the application process like?
I chose to pursue my Doctorate in Occupational Therapy through USC’s OTD entry-level program because it is the nation’s best school in the field. It offers excellent opportunities for networking and mentoring as I work closely with very established professors in the world of OT. The president of my program is the president of the Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC), and part of our faculty founded the specialization of Occupational Science. The application process was stressful; there were many prerequisites and essays. Professor Paola Castelli was incredibly helpful throughout this process. She wrote one of my letters of recommendation, read my essays and CV, and helped me with the editing. If I could give one piece of advice to any students thinking of applying to graduate school, it would be to research schools early, so you can make sure you are aware of any particular requirements you may need to complete.

How has JCU prepared you for your graduate studies?
JCU prepared me for my graduate studies in a unique way because the international and diverse setting taught me values such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, which are essential in Occupational Therapy. I came to graduate school with the ability to understand different perspectives and use them to make inclusion a part of both my academic and personal life. I am also grateful to the JCU Psychological and Social Sciences department for the attention that it places on writing research papers because doing research and writing are essential skills for graduate school.

What JCU class and/or professor impacted you the most and why?
Professor Castelli has had the biggest impact on me! She is demanding, but she cares about her students and wants them to succeed, so she pushes and challenges them to be their best. She knows what she is talking about when she assigns research papers, so as difficult as it may seem in the moment, you have to trust her.  

What are your plans for the future?
When I was at JCU, I had the chance to travel quite a bit, and I hope to have that opportunity again soon. For this reason, I am planning to do one aspect of my doctoral fieldwork abroad. I have the opportunity to travel to Australia, Thailand, Denmark, Japan, or China through USC’s student fieldwork partnerships, so who knows where I’ll end up! After graduation in 2026, I hope to pass the Occupational Therapy National Board Exam and work in pediatrics, with a focus on sensory processing in children and infants, most likely here in Los Angeles.