Teresa Cook

Teresa Cook

Teresa joined the Keck School of Medicine of USC in September 2009 as the Director of Student Services/Registrar. Her responsibilities include overseeing the staff, and supporting the Associate Deans in the admission, matriculation and graduation of medical students.  Working at Keck has also provided her with opportunities that have really advanced her career and challenged her as a professional.   Teresa was recently given the opportunity to expand her role in medical education and now serves as the Director of Medical Education Administration, working with all the staff in the division to optimize the student experience. In addition, Teresa currently chairs the AAMC national committee on Student Records. This experience has given her the chance to provide leadership on the national level for student affairs and records professionals on effective practices related to student privacy and student records management.  Working at Keck is not her only professional experience at the University. Teresa’s first positions were at the USC School of Architecture and the USC School of Engineering in the early to mid 90s. Teresa also received a Master of Education degree in College Student personnel Services from USC in 1995. And, she has two daughters who are USC undergraduates.

Teresa grew up in South Central Los Angeles and as a child and teenager, USC was just a place that sat in the middle of her neighborhood. It wasn’t until she started working at USC that she realized the university’s mission to support the community through programs like the Good Neighbors Campaign and the Joint Educational Project (JEP). Teresa has seen this mission in action at the health sciences campus through Keck’s pipeline programs, which are designed to prepare the underrepresented student population for a health professions career. And it is this commitment to the community that keeps Teresa at Keck and USC – the opportunity to play a role in improving and developing her community and to work with people interested in the same.

One of Teresa’s favorite experiences is when Keck hosted the AAMC Western Regional Group on Student Affairs (GSA) and Group on Educational Affairs (GEA) Meeting in 2012.  The meeting took place at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California, and Teresa was the staff member charged with coordinating all of the logistics for the meeting. Teresa loved that this was an opportunity for her and the staff in admissions and student affairs to work with the KSOM faculty outside of their normal day-to-day responsibilities. Additionally, she and her team got to show some school pride in a large way. When they traveled up to northern California for the meeting, walking through the San Jose airport (Stanford town!) in their USC gear.  The stares were priceless, and they were fearless!


Joyce Perez, Student Programs Manager

Joyce Perez, Student Programs Manager

In her current role as Student Programs Manager, Joyce is responsible for directing the year-round operation of graduate programs for PIBBS (Programs in Biomedical and Biological Sciences), interdisciplinary PhD programs and basic science Master’s program. Her responsibilities include a variety of activities ranging from the recruitment of prospective students as well as anything and everything in between through degree program completion and commencement. Additionally, Joyce leads a wonderful team who share in the successes of the programs and in continuing to advance these programs.

Prior to working at KSOM, Joyce worked for USC Dornsife, College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ Department of Linguistics and the Marshall School of Business Career Resource Center. She is true Trojan through and through with not only 20+ years of employment experience here, but she has also earned all three of her degrees at USC, including Bachelors in Social Sciences with a minor in Gerontology, M.Ed. in Post-Secondary Administration and Students Affairs, and a Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration and Leadership. Additionally, Joyce has served two terms as a Committee Chair for the USC Staff Assembly.

Opportunity to make impactful change is what excites Joyce the most about working at KSOM. She feels that she has been fortunate to work under the supportive guidance of Dr. Ite Offringa and Dr. Peggy Farnham, who have allowed her to flourish as a leader and to improve PIBBS and the interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs. She hopes that her lasting legacy at the KSOM will be a transformation of culture that is focused on community building throughout HSC and innovative student programming and service provision.

As a student affairs professional, Joyce’s responsibility to bring people together, to challenge them, provide support or resources and to create opportunities that will move the School to move forward. One of her main priorities when she arrived at Keck was to revitalize student involvement and engagement by developing opportunities to engage aspiring leaders through programs such as the PIBBS Ambassadors and the PIBBS Mentoring Program. Transforming a culture takes time, and Joyce has been especially proud in the past two years to see the transformation of the student culture as it becomes more connected and committed to participating and contributing to the USC community. In addition, Joyce has also been working on a similar culture change with the staff advisors on the HSC campus. Last summer, she initiated the first HSC/Alhambra Advisor Alliance, which is a network of over 35+ student services and advising staff from both the KSOM and USC School of Pharmacy who collaborate and share resources and best practices in order to better serve our dynamic student population.

Joyce has found that working at KSOM to be fulfilling. While there are challenges, she feels that there is also a vast array of opportunities and rewards, especially when it comes to working with great people and being able to witness students succeed.


Sara Katrdzhyan

Sara Katrdzhyan, Pre-Award Manager, Clinical Trials Office

Nominated by: Adena Gharaptyan, Contracts and Grants Administrator

Sara Katrdzhyan has been a part of the USC family since 2010 when she joined USC’s Clinical Trials Office (CTO) as a contract manager, responsible for negotiating contracts and budgets for industry sponsored clinical trials. Currently, she oversees the contracts group at the CTO responsible for negotiating all clinical trial agreements in addition to overseeing various responsibilities of the pre-award team to ensure the timely activation of industry sponsored clinical trials at USC. Sara’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Business and Management from the University of Redlands, and she is currently enrolled in the Master of Studies in Law program at USC’s Gould School of Law.

With the CTO coming under the purview of the Keck School of Medicine in January 2016, Sara has had the privilege of being a part of the Keck School and experiencing its commitment to research. The Keck School has devoted the necessary resources and commitment needed to enable the CTO to grow and allow the Keck School to become a competitive institution for industry sponsored clinical trials. Keck School’s commitment to research and innovation in health and medicine is what Sara hopes will become the lasting legacy of the Keck School and she envisions herself playing a role in its continued growth in research.

Being a part of and witnessing the many changes, growth and eventual success of the CTO has been one of Sara’s favorite experiences at USC and in her career. The CTO has experienced many challenges along its journey to success and still has much work to do to become a leader in the field but Sara is confident that with the support and commitment of the Keck School, it will reach new heights. Working at the Keck School of Medicine is more than just a job to Sara; it is the sense of belonging and fighting for a cause larger than one’s self.


Meryl Leventhal

Meryl Leventhal

Nominated by: Dennis Deapen, DPH, Professor of Preventive Medicine

As the Data Collection Manager for the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP), a unit within the Department of Preventive Medicine, Meryl is responsible for leading the data collection activities, which includes identifying all facilities in LA County that participate in the diagnosis and/or treatment of cancer patients and maintaining professional relationships with key personnel, assuring the complete cancer case ascertainment from these facilities, and providing education and training for the CSP data collection field staff.

Providing education and training for CSP’s cancer registrars has been a personal passion for Meryl. As an outgrowth of her interest and responsibilities to educate and train the cancer registrars to assure complete and accurate cancer case ascertainment for the CSP, she was offered the opportunity to develop the first completely online cancer information management degree program at Santa Barbara City College with some of her colleagues. She authored the data collection curriculum for the program and served as adjunct faculty for the program, which is now in its 19th year. In 2001, she and her colleagues were awarded the National Cancer Registrar’s Association Education Award in recognition of their efforts to enhance formal education for cancer registrars. Taking an active role in the professional cancer surveillance community associations on the local, state, and national level has helped Meryl cement relationships with the facilities and key personnel involved with cancer data collection. In recognition of her contributions on the state level, she was awarded the California Cancer Registrars Association Distinguished Service Award in 2001.

Meryl became interested in cancer data collection specifically after her mother, her mother’s sister, and her father’s sister were diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, she was working at Kaiser Permanente’s Los Angeles Medical Center in the Cancer Registry. One of her assignments was to provide follow-up information on breast cancer patients to a radiologist considered a pioneer in the field of mammography – none other than Dr. Gloria Frankel, who Meryl recently discovered was Dean Mosqueda’s mother. It was so gratifying to Meryl to know that in some small way, she was contributing to research that could help current and future breast cancer patients.

One of Meryl’s most memorable moments in her time at the Keck School was when a paper on a study design that Meryl contributed to was published in 2009. This was her first professional journal citation, and it was proof-positive that she was using her education, training, and experience to assure that high quality cancer data reached those who could truly advance medical science.