Q&A with Bachelor’s in Lifespan Health grad Astoria Ho

Astoria Ho '21 wants to merge her interests in aging and technology to positively transform the lives of older adults and their families.

Q: What did you study at the USC Leonard Davis School? 

Bachelor of Science in Lifespan Health, Class of 2021.

Q: What inspired you to pick this program?

In high school, I volunteered as a hospice pet therapist. I brought my pet rabbit to visit older adult hospice patients weekly and loved the intergenerational relationships that developed. I picked the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology because I wanted to continue to find ways to help older adults and improve their day-to-day lives. 

Q: What will you be doing after graduation?

I believe that technology can positively transform the lives of older adults and their families. As digital literacy improves from generation to generation, technology can be adopted into all aspects and stages of our lives. 

Since my freshman year at USC, I have been invested in designing aging-technology first at an aging-tech startup and then at AARP Innovation Labs. With my expertise in aging and the older adult population, I am continuing to pursue aging-technology with a product design and user experience lens. 

Next up is a Master’s of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) at UC Berkeley to unify my passions for aging and technology. 

Q: What is the most rewarding or interesting part about studying at USC?

The ability to have an interdisciplinary experience allowed me to explore different fields and gain a plethora of practical skills. Through my computer programming minor in ITP (Information Technology Program) at Viterbi, I built technical skills such as data analytics and web development. Because of this, I landed my first internship which set me on the path I am on today! 

Q: What are some other projects or activities that you’ve been involved in?

During my undergrad, I worked at ReverCare, an aging-tech startup, with a focus on HCI (Human-Computer Interaction). As a Product and Business Development Intern, I prototyped their first web application that provided a platform for family caregivers to search and consult with aging care experts. 

This year, I am working at the AARP Innovation Labs and engaging with their portfolio startups. Bringing my expertise of the older adult population and product design & UX design, I consult age-tech startups on their products. This has been a fun and rewarding experience because I get to work with a different company every week! 

Within USC, I am a part of Spark SC, a student organization focused on fostering entrepreneurship on-and-around campus. One of Spark’s initiatives that I led is the Startup Career Fair, where Spark brings LA startups on campus to recruit USC students for internships and full-time positions. 

Q: What is one of your favorite courses you’ve taken at the school?

My favorite course at the USC Leonard Davis School is GERO 483: Global Health and Aging taught by Professor Ho. When I learned about the different healthcare systems and understood the challenges older adults face around the world, I felt so motivated to work on these issues and brainstorm solutions. 

One of the most eye-opening issues I learned about was how much of donated medical equipment in low-income countries goes unused because the equipment was not designed or built for these low-income healthcare centers. I remember seeing a photo in lecture of a mountain-like pile of unused medical equipment and spending the rest of class thinking about how to best utilize this equipment. Now looking back, this was my first lesson on the importance of environmental factors in product design (in what scenarios will a product be used and who will be using it)!