Guest post by Jessica Strupp, 2019 Foundation Summer Intern
At the age of three, I boldly declared I would one day become a physical therapist, just like my mom. Since then, my experiences in the field of physical therapy have continued to shape my appreciation for this profession.
I first became acquainted with the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (Foundation) through the Marquette Challenge (Challenge) while on a tour through Marquette University’s Physical Therapy department at the age 18. It was then that I learned the Foundation plays an integral role in sustaining the profession by funding physical therapy research. While I wasn’t sure how yet, during that tour, I became determined to become involved in the Marquette Challenge, a grassroots student-led fundraising effort in support of the Foundation.
Over the course of the past three years, student Challenge Coordinators and previous Foundation interns have become some of my greatest mentors at Marquette. All of whom encouraged me to apply for the coveted Foundation internship. I was overjoyed when I was offered this position. I’ve received an abundance of positive feedback about this experience, but this summer has exceeded all of my hopes and expectations.
It feels like just yesterday I was packing up and driving from Wisconsin to Virginia to meet my host family. Having lived in Wisconsin my whole life, I was excited about spending my summer in a new state, with endless new places to explore. More importantly, I was enthusiastic about the opportunity to intern at the Foundation. From the moment I set foot in the office, I felt welcomed, and knew it would be an unforgettable experience.
Throughout the summer, my responsibilities as an intern have varied from working on PowerPoints and spreadsheets to stuffing envelopes for the Foundation’s annual mailings. These tasks allowed me to immerse myself in many aspects of the Foundation’s day-to-day tasks. During my first month, I eagerly jumped into several projects
as we prepared for the American Physical Therapy Association’s NEXT Conference & Exposition in Chicago. I was excited to attend the conference and be a part of the Foundation’s Awards Luncheon and PT Party. As the conference quickly approached, I enjoyed creating slideshows, scripts, escort cards, awards, and more. Before I knew it, I was flying to Chicago, and got the opportunity to see my work come to fruition. I presented the slideshows I created to accompany the speakers, as we celebrated the success of this year’s Pitt-Marquette Challenge. Networking with other students and professionals who shared a common passion for fundraising for physical therapy research made me even more excited about taking on a leadership role in the Challenge throughout the next three years.
Another highlight of my summer was a field trip to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the winning school in this year’s Pitt-Marquette Challenge. We got to tour VCU’s physical therapy program in their brand new building. Next, we had lunch with VCU students, where we shared fundraising experiences and ideas. Then, we had the opportunity to tour the Physical Therapy Department’s Biomechanics and Motor Development labs. I enjoyed seeing research in progress, as well as meeting researchers who’ve received Foundation funding. We finished the tour by learning about VCU’s physical therapy residencies. I am grateful for everyone at VCU and for the Foundation for making this day possible.
This was not simply an internship, but a valuable experience which will lay the foundation for a lifetime of dedication to the field of physical therapy. This experience has empowered me to immerse myself in the profession and contribute to advancements through the funding of physical therapy research. It has been inspiring to see firsthand the significant impacts that student-led fundraisers have on the profession. The demand for evidence-based practice in physical therapy is growing — and thanks to the Foundation — researchers are receiving funding for important research. It’s inspiring to know that even as students, we can make a profound impact on the physical therapy profession.
As my internship comes to an end, I am filled with gratitude. It’s hard to believe that twelve weeks have flown by so quickly, and that I’ll be heading back to Marquette to begin physical therapy classes. I am confident that this opportunity will continue to serve as an integral component of my student experience at Marquette University. I cannot thank everyone at the Foundation enough for providing this invaluable experience, as well as Marquette University faculty and student mentors, who inspired me to get involved in the Challenge. This internship has provided countless opportunities for professional growth, and fostered a deeper understanding of the importance of physical therapy research. Although this internship is coming to an end, I’m eager to continue my involvement with the Foundation throughout the next three years as a Marquette Challenge coordinator and beyond!
Jessica Strupp is from Allenton, WI, and a student at Marquette University. She will receive a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology in May 2020 and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy in May 2022.