Exercise Science and Sport Studies

Catherine Nguyen

What is your background, how did you come to Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s, what was your major and how would you describe the highlights of your undergraduate education?

I grew up in St. Cloud and wanted to go somewhere close to home. The best way that I can describe picking CSB+SJU was that it just felt “right” when I toured it. I majored in biology with a minor in exercise science and health studies. One of the highlights of my undergraduate education was being a biology lab teaching assistant. It really helped me refine my laboratory skills and communication skills by being able to interact with a bunch of students and faculty members.

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

I was able to take courses that were not within my major or the pre-physical therapy track that opened my eyes to new things. It gave me the opportunity to interact with other students that I wouldn’t normally see in my science courses. I really enjoyed my philosophy and upper theology classes.

What makes the pre-PT program at CSB and SJU unique?

The connection that you get to make with Don Fischer (the physical therapy adviser) is unique and awesome! He has made a tremendous impact on my college experience; without him I don’t know what I would be doing. He was always willing and happy to help me with anything from picking out next year's classes all the way to applying for PT school. You can tell that he truly cares about his students and what’s best for them.

How would you describe the workload and/or academic expectations related to this pre-professional track?

The pre-physical therapy track is not easy, but it is manageable. Some courses were harder than others. Personally, I would recommend getting the harder courses out of the way, so that by your senior year you have room to take courses such as kinesiology that would be a great steppingstone into PT school. I can tell you that your future self will thank you for putting in the work early on in your college career.

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

One of the greatest challenges I faced in college was financial. Higher education in general is expensive and graduate school will be even more expensive. Managing work on top of school was something that I had to work on a bit to find a balance.

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

My best advice would be to shadow. I had no clue what I wanted to do in the spring of my sophomore year and that summer I decided to shadow a PT. Ever since then I have been committed to the track. Reading a job description on the internet gives you an idea of what it could be like, but you never really know until you go out into the field. You can always shadow for a day and if you like it then that is awesome, go for it! If you do not think it's for you, then at least you gave it your best shot and move on from there.

What are your plans for after you graduate from CSB and SJU, and what are plans after graduate school?

I will be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to study physical therapy.


Catherine Nguyen
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John’s University

Don Fischer
Chair, Exercise Science & Sport Studies