Kendra Coleman

March 18, 2014

Kendra Coleman is graduating in the spring of 2014. She is a biology major from Pelican Rapids, Minn.

Why study pre-physical therapy at a liberal arts college?

A liberal arts college allows you to get a feel for a little piece of everything. It helps create a more rounded person, which I believe is very important for a physical therapist. A liberal arts education also provides many different views on the world, which translates into an ability to discuss many different topics and interests with patients. This allows for easy conversation which will help patients be more comfortable.  In addition, since physical therapy is a career that incorporates many different disciplines, a liberal arts education makes it easier to experience this variety. 

What makes the pre-physical therapy program at CSB/SJU unique?

The pre-physical therapy program at CSB/SJU allows students to be involved in other academic disciplines besides the pre-physical therapy prerequisite classes. Students are able to major in a discipline they choose, conduct undergraduate research and also participate in extracurricular activities.  Many of the exercise science, biology and other related classes offer an opportunity for research and there are also opportunities to conduct research with faculty members.  The liberal arts education offered at CSB/SJU allows for attainment of the prerequisite classes, while also providing an opportunity to pursue any major that may interest a student, even if it is not science related.  

What has your experience with the CSB/SJU pre-physical therapy program faculty been like?

My experience has gone smoothly because of my advisor, Don Fischer.  He is extremely knowledgeable about the graduate school process and is willing to meet with students whenever possible.  Don makes an effort to get to know each pre-physical therapy student as an individual, and works to make individualized plans to fit each person's needs.  He has all the resources you would ever need as a pre-physical therapy student.  Don does a great job in working to challenge students and prepare them for graduate school. 

What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced?

One of the greatest challenges I have faced is managing my time between a challenging school load, preparing for graduate school, and participating in out-of-classroom activities.  I am a two-sport athlete at CSB, which translates into being in-season about 95 percent of the school year.  This is a huge time commitment and I really had to learn time management in order to keep up on my school work and stay on track with the pre-physical therapy program.  Once I began my shadowing hours, time management became even more difficult.  However, I remained determined and with the help of my mentors, I was able to make everything work smoothly.  I believe that this challenge has helped me grow and mature as an individual and it will help me excel in my future career as a physical therapist. 

What advice do you have for students considering the pre-physical therapy program?

Shadow, shadow, shadow!  I believe there is no better way to discover if a career is truly for you unless you experience it first-hand. I have learned so much through my shadowing experiences. By doing so, I solidified my decision to become a physical therapist.  I encourage students to shadow in as many settings as possible with as many different therapists as possible.  I was fortunate to participate in a wide variety of experiences that gave me a greater understanding of the field and I would recommend this to any prospective pre-physical therapy student.  Also, make sure you stay on track with prerequisite courses in order to keep a calm mind and be able to apply early to graduate school.  Applying early is extremely advantageous, and staying on top of prerequisites will allow students to do so. 

Did you study abroad? If so, how did that experience impact you?

I studied abroad for a summer term in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.  My education here at CSB/SJU would not be the same without this experience.  It was amazing to be able to experience a different culture and to learn so much.  While in Ecuador, we visited a variety of very different locations, each with its own unique variations in the national culture.  

A particular experience stands out in my mind.  While we were in the rainforest, we were fortunate enough to be able to meet and speak with a few people from the Waorani tribe who are indigenous to Amazonia.  This gave us an opportunity to work on our communication skills with people who do not speak our language and who live a very different lifestyle than us.  This experience gave me so many opportunities to learn about a world vastly different from my own and gave me a greater appreciation for what they can teach us about living a simpler life.  I learned more in those few weeks than I ever thought possible. I believe it helped me learn a lot about myself and gain a greater appreciation for different cultures.  I absolutely recommend studying abroad if at all possible! 

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I will be attending the Mayo School of Health Sciences pursuing a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree in Rochester, Minn.  I would love to work in a general orthopedic setting, but who knows where the world will take me!