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Who are the Class of 2024 salutatorians?

Vaseline 3 months ago

As the daughter of two physicians, Lisa Tchitchkan has been surrounded by medicine from a young age. Tchitchkan’s family is originally from Belarus, but when they moved to the United States in 2008, Tchitchkan was able to witness her mother retrain as a physician in America.

“Medicine has always been a part of my life. I thought to myself, ‘Since my mom enjoys medicine so much, I would enjoy medicine in a similar way.’ So, I explored it on my own throughout the rest of my life,” Tchitchkan said.

Coming into USC, Tchitchkan decided that majoring in neuroscience would be the best fit for her because of her strong interest in the molecular mechanisms that determine the way people think and how they perceive the world.

“I’ve always been someone who likes understanding other people, so neuroscience allows me to do that from a more scientific standpoint, as opposed to an interpersonal standpoint,” Tchitchkan said.

In 2022, Tchitchkan took on a major in Spanish in addition to her neuroscience major. While volunteering at Los Angeles General Medical Center, Tchitchkan was inspired to major in Spanish to learn the language in order to create a deeper understanding and more personal connection with her patients.

Outside of class, Tchitchkan has been a member of USC InterAxon since her freshman year. InterAxon is an outreach program that aims to encourage young children to pursue neuroscience. Tchitchkan said InterAxon helped her realize her passion for helping children, which ultimately inspired her to pursue a career in pediatrics.

Tchitchkan has also participated in research positions, including volunteering in the USC Dion Dickman Lab since her freshman year. As a researcher at the Dickman Lab, Tchitchkan received the Brian Phillip Rakusin Neuroscience Scholarship Award in 2023 for her research on protein interactions in the presynaptic terminal using Stimulated Emission Depletion microscopy.

Like McColl, Tchitchkan is a firm believer in having a healthy work-life balance and exploring interests outside of academic pursuits.

“I think it’s really important to have interests outside of your academic passions, because pursuing other interests will allow you to come back more recharged and ready to tackle the academic pursuits you’re doing with a newfound sense of enthusiasm,” Tchitchkan said.

After graduating from USC, Tchitchkan will attend Harvard Medical School.

She gave a lasting piece of advice for Trojans on their academic journey.

“Establish a really solid foundation of strong academic practices, but at the same time, find a strong support system that will support you throughout the inevitable challenges that you’ll face throughout your time in undergrad,” Tchitchkan said.