Julia Black, a 2020 College of Saint Benedict graduate, was a Hispanic studies major from Eagan, Minnesota, who has been involved in the pre-physical therapy program at CSB and Saint John’s University.
Why study pre-PT at a liberal arts college?
Being able to study at CSB/SJU helped me become a well-rounded student. There are so many different fields in physical therapy and the liberal arts curriculum really helped prepare me for whatever my physical therapy career has in store for me. I feel confident and prepared for whatever is thrown my way because of the well-rounded knowledge CSB/SJU has provided me. I think being a well-rounded student benefits all students and prepares them for their future careers thanks to the liberal arts curriculum.
What makes the pre-PT program at CSB/SJU unique?
The pre-PT program at CSB/SJU does not require you to major in a specific area. I myself am a Hispanic Studies major and was able to still successfully be fully prepared for PT school. Don Fischer does a great job of allowing PT to fit into whatever you want your major to be. This not only helps you become a more well-rounded student, but sets you up for success in the professional world. The small class sizes also helped me achieve great success in my classes. The professors know you by name and care so much about each individual program. You are not just a number on the roster, but are a real person whose success is cared about immensely. These professors truly have our best interest in mind and will do everything they can to help us succeed.
What has your experience with the CSB/SJU pre-PT program faculty been like?
My experience has been outstanding with the pre-PT faculty. Don Fischer is one of the most knowledgeable, supportive, approachable and caring people I know. I would not be where I am today without all of his efforts. He is so organized and walked me through each step of my pre-PT journey. I did not have any issues applying because I had completed everything needed of me that Don had laid out for me. I was able to study abroad in both Chile and Spain, while graduating a year early and have all the prerequisites/requirements completed successfully for PT school. I also had Don for Sports Injury Management I and II and Medical Terminology, which were three of my favorite classes that I took at CSB/SJU. Don is so knowledgeable and an outstanding professor. I learned so much from him that I still use in my everyday life. I always felt confident, successful and assured during my whole pre-PT journey thanks to Don.
What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced?
The biggest challenge I had to face was applying to PT school. I decided that I was going to graduate a year early two months before I left to study abroad in Chile. This meant I would have to apply to PT schools while abroad. The application process is very complicated, meticulous and does unfortunately take quite a while to complete. However, I managed to complete it successfully with the help from Don and my study abroad director. They were so incredibly helpful and I couldn’t have done it without them. Many people are afraid of this process, so I hope my situation can make this process seem very feasible, especially given that you probably won’t be studying abroad in foreign country without stable Wi-Fi while completing the application!
What advice do you have for students considering the pre-PT program?
My two biggest pieces of advice for pre-PT students would be to make yourself stand out and major in something that you are passionate about. Most PT candidates have good GPA’s, lots of shadow hours, great letters of recommendation and major in some science field. The part that helped me get into many PT schools was that I was a Hispanic Studies major and had many cultural experiences (including shadowing a Chilean PT) while studying abroad in both Chile in Spain. If you are passionate in chemistry or biology, that is great and I encourage you to major in it! However, you do NOT have to major in science to be accepted into PT school. My recommendation would be to major in something you are passionate about and then using those passions to make you stand out. During one of my interviews, they actually said that the deciding factor was that I was so different from all the other candidates. Making yourself stand out is so important and using what you are passionate about is a great way to do so.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I will be attending Briar Cliff University (Iowa) for my Doctorate of Physical Therapy.