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YSP Staff

Dieuwertje J. Kast

☼ JEP STEM Program Manager and Director of Young Scientist Program

Dieuwertje J. Kast received her masters in Education and her biology teaching credential the Rossier School of Education. A native of the Netherlands, DJ received her undergraduate and graduate education at USC through the progressive masters programs obtaining her BS in Biology and MS in Marine Environmental Biology. She has a passion for Science Education, has written curriculum and held leadership roles for both Wonderkids, The Young Scientist Program, The USC QuikSCienceprogram, and the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) program. In her spare time she enjoys writing science books, photography, SCUBA diving and working with marine science labs across California.

Chukwumamkpam Uzoegwu

☼ 4th Grade TA at WeemesElementary

Chukwumamkpam Uzoegwu is a senior pursuing a bachelor's in Business Administration. Though born Nigeria, he has lived most of his life in the Los Angeles area. In addition to teaching for YSP, he also teaches health education with Peer Health Exchange and has taught at various other schools.

Savvy Brar

☼ 5th Grade TA at Vermont Elementary

Savvy Brar is currently a senior at USC on the pre-medicine track majoring in Global Health through the USC Keck School of Medicine and minoring in Spanish. Since growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, she has loved working with kids and spreading her love and enthusiasm for both science and medicine. She studied abroad in Madrid, Spain in the Fall semester and works with organizations such as Global Medical Brigades and is both a founding member and President of the student organization Trojans Preventing Cancer in the Community. In her spare time, Savvy enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

Rima Al-Rabadi

☼ 5th Grade TA at Norwood Elementary

Rima Al-Rabadi  - is a senior at USC studying Global Health and Health Care Studies with a pre-medicine emphasis through the Keck School of Medicine. She originates from Covina, CA and has spent most of her time at USC focusing on bringing together education, health awareness, and greater understanding of science through the Young Scientist Program and USC Peer Health Exchange. Her love for education, working with children, and serving the community surrounding USC extends to her other involvement in student organizations including the USC Helenes, Kicks for Kids, and USC Camp Kesem. Her passion for health and bringing medical care to underserved populations is reflected in her participation in the Inter-Health Council and international health organizations including the Global Health Club, GlobeMed and Public Health Brigades. In her spare time, Rima can be found reading, watching science documentaries, listening to a myriad of musical artists, hiking, and brushing up on her Arabic and Spanish.

Shakya Sur

☼ 4th Grade TA at Norwood Elementary

Shakya is a senior majoring in mechanical engineering. This is his first year with YSP. He discovered his passion for teaching and helping kids in the classroom through volunteering for JEP in his junior year. He loves hands-on projects and has been actively involved in USC's Formula SAE racing team, designing a prototype lunar lander vehicle as well as laboratory research. In his spare time, he enjoys playing table tennis, pool, biking and photography.

Geoff Kusaka

☼ 5th Grade TA at Weemes

Geoff Kusaka is currently a junior at USC majoring in Human Biology with a minor in Health Communication.  A Hawai’i native, he traveled to USC with island spirit and a love for the natural sciences.  In addition to working as a TA for YSP, he helps to conduct research on the factors determining the feeling of the cold sensation at the USC Center for Neuroscience.  Furthermore, he greatly appreciates teaching, and as a result has endeavored to join clubs such as the Peer Health Exchange while also tutoring in various subjects.  During spare time, Geoff can be found searching for the finest new music, competing in recreational sports, and spending quality time with his friends.

Rachel O’Leary

☼ 4th Grade TA at 32nd St. School

Rachel O'Leary is a senior at USC earning her B.S. in Environmental Studies. She has just returned from spending a semester and a summer on Catalina Island, where she studied in the field and worked with children on environmental education. In her spare time, Rachel enjoys gardening, hiking, and collecting seashells. She is very excited to work with YSP!

Krupa Patel

☼ 5th Grade TA at 32nd St. School

Krupa Patel is currently a Junior pursuing a Bachelor's of Science in Neuroscience. She is hoping to do research in Neuroscience or become a clinical Neuropsychologist. In addition to being a YSP TA, Krupa also works in a mirror neuron research lab at the Brain and Creativity Institute. She continues her passion for teaching and science by volunteering for organizations at USC such as Interaxon and HSEP. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, hiking, reading, and attempting to play the guitar.

Layla Farrahi

☼ 4th Grade TA at Vermont Elementary

Layla Farrahi is currently a senior at USC on the pre-medicine track majoring in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in the Keck School of Medicine and pursuing a minor in Natural Sciences. She is pursuing her passion for public health research and intervention based approaches as a Undergraduate Fellow in Addiction Sciences under Dr. Adam Leventhal. Layla has previously taught science to Log Angeles high school students and is excited to teach younger students and develop their passion for science as well! As a Los Angeles native, she also enjoys hiking the different mountain ranges throughout the city and along the coast!

Sophia Nguyen

☼ 4th and 5th Grade TA at Foshay Learning Center

Sophia Nguyen is currently a freshman at the USC majoring in Human Biology. Sophia has been passionate about the sciences for as long as she can remember (from following snails in her grandpa's garden when she was three to observing the curdling rate of various types of milk when she was nine to being a part of YSP to share awesome science experiments with students in the community). She looks forward to sharing her passion for the sciences and learning from her Foshay students. In her spare time, Sophia enjoys reading, doodling, exploring, learning new languages, and attempting to cook.