Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

"I don’t get water in a race, I don’t get water at practice." My motto as a 14-year-old swimmer was obviously very flawed. A sudden yank in my back shot pain up and down my thoracic spine every time I moved my arms backwards and I began to panic. We were a small swim team and if I was injured, our relay would have no chance against the large clubs. Hurriedly, I sought out a physical therapist (PT) to help me, and with repeated sessions, I was able to make it back to the team just in time for our final meet of the year. This was the start of my interest in physical therapy as I realized how PT’s were able to help people return to pursuing whatever goals they had set before them.
As I grew into early adulthood, I expected my desire to be a PT to wane as more options were presented to me, but it only intensified. I sought out opportunities outside of the classroom working as a caregiver to assist patients and volunteering to assist the therapist themselves. Across the many different settings I was able to shadow or work in, I saw a wide variety of different patients with different reasons for being in the clinic. It ranged from, “When can I get back to running?” to “How am I going to pay the bills?” and everything in between.
My interest in the field had been kickstarted by a desire to return to a sport I was lucky to be a part of, but most people seeking rehabilitation were looking to simply return pain free to their everyday life. Some couldn’t sleep because of the pain, and some were completely bed ridden, needing years of physical therapy to return to a functional lifestyle.
In the clinics, I look at every patient and find myself longing to do more than just be a volunteer or an aide. I one day plan to be the one who can help these people return to their way of life so they can put food on the table, and hold their children in their arms pain free. I will be someone who can help people overcome the pain they feel so that they can live the life they envisioned.

Noah from California
University of Southern California