ASU's PT Program is Building Bridges!
Lanier student Aryn Williams, in blue using the hula-hoop, said that the ASU "PT Moves Me Program" moved her (Photo-credit: David Campbell/ASU).
ASU's PT Program Builds Bridges to Local MPS Students; Bolstering Diversity!
- ASU's 'PT Moves Me Program' visits MPS schools to stimulate career interest, diversity and advance enrollment.
By: Kenneth Mullinax/ASU
Graduate students enrolled in Alabama State University's Physical Therapy (PT) program are in the midst of an inaugural venture visiting local Montgomery Public School System (MPS) campuses from elementary to high schools in an attempt to increase minority student awareness and increase interest in pursuing education and careers in both PT and occupational therapy (OT) programs at ASU.
The new outreach program is called the "PT Moves Me Program," and ASU's Dr. Cleve Carter, III is the catalyst behind it.
The goal of Carter and his cadre of ASU graduate students from the College of Health Sciences is akin to missionary-like ventures explaining the positives of PT/OT careers. Their first “mission fields” are MPS's Lanier High School, Brewbaker Middle School, Blount Elementary and Morris Elementary Schools. The current visits will continue through the month of April. Carter said he expects to add other campuses to the calendar in the future.
"Our graduate-level students are out visiting MPS students in an attempt to plant seeds in the minds of these local elementary, middle and high school students so we can harvest within them an interest in pursuing a physical therapy education and creating career goals by first enrolling at Alabama State University," Carter said by phone. "Our initial inspiration is to increase awareness and then stimulate interest among local minority students in pursuing an education in this subject at ASU."
According to data, only five percent of PT professionals in the United States are minorities.
Carter and his students are working to do their part in increasing this percentage by stimulating local minority students beginning in elementary school and also at the critical times of both middle and high school when student's minds turn to selecting colleges to pursue specific fields of study. He explained that ASU offers both a masters and a doctorate-level degree in both PT and OT studies. To be eligible to enroll in either, students must first have a bachelor's degree with relevant coursework, which enables them to study and excel in either degree.
"After creating an interest in this field of study, the program's goal is to get them to first enroll in ASU for an undergraduate degree and then on to its graduate study in the subject," Carter stated.
On April 8, the program made one of its first visits to an MPS campus, specifically Montgomery's Lanier High School. ASU's PT students set-up a therapy simulation program where the University's master's and doctoral students did practical demonstrations on how they provide therapy to people who range in age from children to the elderly.
"We exhibited all sorts of therapy actions from balance and strength training to coordination activities, which even included hula-hoops that help with balance issues. We had a large positive reaction from Lanier's students, which is the first step in working with ASU's Admission's department to get them to enroll at the University," he explained.
ASU STUDENTS TAKE THE LEAD IN THE PROGRAM
Elizabeth Dixon is enrolled in ASU’s Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy program. She was instrumental in the planning and execution of the outreach initiative.
The Atlanta native is excited about being able to reach local students of color.
"This program means so much to me and I am happy to go out within the Montgomery community to speak with students and let them know that PT is a great educational and career option for them," Dixon said. "Increasing inclusion, awareness and creating an interest among minority students to know that PT is a great option for them is just what we must do to counteract our underrepresentation in this amazing career."
Dixon has been in charge of contacting the MPS schools to arrange for the school visits.
"By stimulating interest in what we do here, it increases awareness and visibility of ASU's PT and OT programs, which can help us first get students to enroll in our undergraduate programs and later pursue graduate school here. This is how we increase minority participation in our profession."
UNDERSTANDING PT AND OT IS THE FIRST STEP
Dr. Susan Denham is the chair of ASU's PT and OT program. She said it's important to share with pre-college students the myriad of educational and career options from which they have to choose at ASU, especially the University’s nationally acclaimed graduate programs.
"The outreach program put together by Dr. Carter is a wonderful opportunity to introduce local young people within the underrepresented community to our profession and to all that ASU offers them to make it their chosen goal," Denham said. "Not many kids understand all of the many career opportunities that exist among both the PT and OT degrees."
The dean of ASU's College of Health Sciences, Dr. Charlene Portee, said the program is a brilliant idea.
"The 'PT Moves Me Ambassador Program' helps facilitate student recruitment activities taking place on the programmatic level, as well as serves as a place to discuss student recruitment ideas," Portee said.
EXPOSING LOCAL STUDENTS DRIVES THEIR INTEREST
ASU's new program struck a home run with a ninth-grade softball player at Lanier High School during the ASU team’s April 8 visit to her school.
Lanier student Aryn Williams said that the ASU "PT Moves Me Program" moved her to the point that she now wants to learn more about it and is interested in attending Alabama State University.
"After watching the demonstration and speaking with its students, I feel that I would like to be a physical therapist," said the second-base player.
News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.