Considering I am in my thirties and still in school, I am what I like to call a “professional student” with a love for all things academia-related. I completed my undergraduate degree at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, where I played collegiate water polo and graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology. Upon graduation, I knew I would eventually be continuing my educational journey and wanted to travel before I returned to full-time student status. Like most students, I was on a tight budget, so I ended up working as an au pair in Rome, Italy, to finance my international travels prior to attending graduate school. This experience was completely abrupt, unorganized, and incredible! I eventually had to return back to the states because I found out I was accepted into Shenandoah University’s dual-degree program, where over the course of three and a half years, I earned my Master of Athletic Training and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees. While those three and a half years tested my time management skills and my ability to synthesize and appropriately apply knowledge and communication skills, it was an outstanding academic experience.
Upon graduation, I began working full-time as a Physical Therapist in an outpatient orthopedic clinic in Northern Virginia, outside of the Washington D.C. area. During this time, I was also functioning as the Head Athletic Trainer for the NOVA Men’s Rugby League team and working as an adjunct faculty member at Shenandoah University, leading anatomy cadaver lab dissections and assisting in musculoskeletal skill-based courses for Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant students. I firmly believe that variety is the spice of life and I loathe monotony. So, while I truly loved my patient, athlete, and student interactions, I knew deep down that my true passion was teaching and research, so after three years of full-time clinical practice and adjunct teaching, I made the executive decision to return to school yet again to acquire my PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Kentucky while working as a Graduate Research Assistant.
This has been a drastic transition but accepting this opportunity has already afforded me with so many amazing learning and mentoring experiences. In just this first year my knowledge base has vastly expanded, and I am excited and eager to continue to grow as a student, clinician, and future professor! One of the many amazing opportunities that I have been granted this year is that my abstract was recently accepted for presentation at the International Ankle Symposium (IAS). By being awarded this Honor Society scholarship, I will now be able to afford travel to Amsterdam, in order to present my ankle-related research at my very first international conference! Attending this event will allow me to discuss my current and future research projects with the top professionals in this field, network with other professionals, and learn from all other presenters. I would like to thank Honor Society for helping me to finance my travels and re-affirming my decision to leave a full-time career to return to the classroom for the love of science and continual academic growth!