Like Mother, Like Son

| May 9, 2024

Anthony Mouchawar Hopes to Realize His Mother’s Dream And Attend Medical School

(Left to Right) Anthony Mouchawar, his mother Elia, a USC Viterbi alumna, and his younger brother (Photo/Courtesy of Anthony Mouchawar)

(Left to Right) Anthony Mouchawar, his mother Elia, a USC Viterbi alumna, and his younger brother (Photo/Courtesy of Anthony Mouchawar)

With a strong biomedical engineering program and an older sister already at the university, Elia Mouchawar always dreamed of going to USC. Her dream became a reality when she was accepted to USC’s biomedical engineering program in 1984. During her time at USC, Mouchawar joined The Society of Women in Engineering, where she served as vice president and secretary. 

As a first-generation Mexican immigrant, Mouchawar was also involved in community outreach with the surrounding Latino neighborhoods.

“When I first came to USC, my sister was doing a work-study in outreach programs in the Hispanic community,” said Mouchawar. “So, I went a couple of times and talked to local high schoolers and encouraged them to pursue engineering. My time at USC was very fulfilling.”

This desire to help others stemmed from her father’s commitment to patient care. As a doctor, Mouchawar’s father inspired her to pursue medicine. Unfortunately, when Mouchawar’s father immigrated to the United States from Mexico, he lacked the proper credentials to practice medicine here. Elia Mouchawar needed to support her father and siblings. She simply lacked the resources to attend medical school.

“I thought after working for a while and saving up, I’d get back to medicine,” she said.  “I got married, had kids, and needed to support my family, so I indefinitely postponed the dream.”

However, it all worked out for Mouchawar. Immediately after graduating, she received a job offer at TRW, which Northrop Grumman later acquired. TRW paid for her to receive a masters degree in solid state engineering at USC. She now holds two degrees from USC.

Perhaps, that’s why she sent her son here. Just like his mother, Anthony Mouchawar studied biomedical engineering. A student in the progressive degree program, he is earning his bachelor’s degree on May 10 from the USC Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering. He will earn his master’s degree in 2025 in molecular microbiology and immunology.

As president of the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering Society (ASBME) and through his research in the Zavaleta Lab, Mouchawar has shown a commitment to helping others, both to make the world a better place and to hopefully realize his mother’s dreams of long ago of one day going to medical school.

“There’s something very fulfilling about the patient care side of medicine,” Mouchawar said. “I want to be able to impact people’s lives directly.”

The summer following his freshman year, Mouchawar began working at the Zavaleta Lab, which focuses on developing novel nano-based molecular imaging strategies to help detect cancer. Mouchawar worked specifically with gold nanoparticles, which don’t need to be labeled with fluorescents, enabling researchers to conduct longer-lasting studies since there is no signal degradation.

During the pandemic, Mouchawar’s first involvement with ASBME was through Zoom lessons with local schools which he helped lead: like mother, like son. ASBME is an undergraduate student organization geared towards biomedical engineers that offers networking opportunities, teaches practical skills, and participates in community service and outreach projects. 

“Introducing biomedical engineering concepts to kids through these lessons was one of my favorite early memories of being a USC student,” Mouchawar said. “It was a fun way to get involved in the community while also fostering interest in STEM among kids.”

Now, as a graduating senior, Mouchawar is the president of ASBME. He has brought his unique perspective as a pre-medical student. This year, for example, Mouchawar partnered with St. Agnes Catholic Church to host a free diabetes screening.

“This health fair allows us to detect diabetes in the community while helping students practice their clinical skills,” he said. “We have a lot going on at ASBME. It’s a very multifaceted organization, and we do as much as possible to expose students to all parts of the biomedical engineering field.”

After earning his master’s degree next year, Mouchawar wants to attend medical school, a dream his mother had years before. 

“In a way, medical school is my way of honoring my mom’s sacrifice,” he said. “I am so lucky to have the opportunity to pursue a career in medicine, and I am doing everything in my power to make this dream come true. 

“Parents always want to see their kids surpass them,” he added. “My mom helped provide me with the resources to work towards medical school, and I’m very grateful for it.”

Published on May 9th, 2024

Last updated on May 9th, 2024

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