USC Davis Commencement 2015: Alexander Woodman

2015 USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology Master of Science in Gerontology graduate Alexander Woodman wants to use his gerontology education to make an international impact for people of all ages.

Alexander, who was born in the USSR and relocated to California as a teenager following the Soviet Union’s collapse, has seized unique opportunities for research and outreach throughout his education. During his undergraduate years at the University of California, Los Angeles, he took part in research, student government, and honors seminars as well as volunteer work with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

“As a volunteer at Cedars-Sinai, I learned how to serve; increased my empathy toward older adults regardless of their race, religion, gender, and socioeconomic status; and developed a new level of understanding towards vulnerable populations,” Alexander says. “These experiences, including an interdisciplinary seminar on lifespan development and end-of-life experiences at UCLA, have deepened in my mind a unique passion of love for all mankind and genuine respect for human life, more specifically towards the elderly.”

Later, during and following his time as a Master of Public Health student at California State University, Fullerton, Alexander traveled to Southeast Asia as well as the Middle East, taking part in public health research projects dealing with obesity, infectious disease, barriers to good health behaviors, and other issues. He continued to analyze the data he collected overseas while completing his MSG at USC, working with USC Leonard Davis Clinical Assistant Professor Aaron Hagedorn.

Alexander says he chose the USC Leonard Davis School for his gerontology education simply because he wanted the best preparation for becoming a leading expert in health across the lifespan.

“USC gave me all the necessary tools to be a world-class leader within my specialty and gave me the knowledge, strength, and confidence to enter the real world and make a difference,” he says. “My explorations at USC included an examination of lifespan developmental psychology, statistics, research methods, leadership, analytical and critical thinking, and more.”

Besides continuing his involvement in research at the Davis School, Alexander also drew upon his own experience applying and attending 4 different colleges to provide mentorship to students locally and around the world who wished to transfer to USC. His contribution to international student advisement earned him a USC Academic Support Peer Achievement Award in 2014.

After graduation, Alexander aims to begin a PhD program and continue his work in international public health. This summer, he’ll be traveling to south of France to collect qualitative data on healthy aging in the region under the guidance of faculty from USC and Harvard University.

Alexander says that one of the most impactful and important experiences he’s had at USC is his relationships with USC Leonard Davis faculty members, Associate Dean Maria Henke, and the scholarship donors whose generosity has supported his education.

“Being surrounded by the best in the field of gerontology and public health has empowered me to take risks and aim high in my future ambitions,” he says.