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Name: Alexa Sperling
Hometown: Fresno, California
Undergraduate school/program: California State University, Monterrey Bay (CSU) – Kinesiology with Emphasis in Exercise Science
Graduate school/program: California State University, Fresno (CSU) - Doctor of Physical Therapy
Expected grad year: 2023
How did you come to learn about physical therapy?
Through getting injured in high school. I played high school basketball, and I tore my ACL. That was the first time I ever underwent any kind of surgery or had any kind of serious injury that required me to go to physical therapy. Also, it was seeing what went on there and how it helps people get better that kind of started the thought in my head that maybe I wanted to go that route.
Why did you believe this particular field was for you?
I just really have a passion for helping people. I knew that whatever field I went into, one, I wanted to be able to stay kind of near sports because I grew up playing sports. I played college basketball. Two, I wanted something that can help people. That’s the best of both worlds. I could help injured athletes who need a way back to their sport and still get to stay near sports without playing because performer athletes know the sport ends eventually and they have to figure out what's next.
I know you said you're in your second year of PT school. What are some things you have been adjusting to in school?
I think the adjustment is the time commitment. Playing college sports is a huge time commitment as well, but this is a little bit different because, in my opinion, there's a lot more riding on the line. It's really expensive, so you don't want to feel like you're wasting your money. You want to do well because you want to be a good clinician, so I think it’s adjusting to how much time it takes...how different and difficult the school is from a regular undergraduate degree. It's like a next step up. Those were the two hardest parts for me.
What’s something that you say that you love or are good at within your program?
I would say I am good at connecting with people. I have an ability to be on their level and understand where they're coming from as well as where they want to go and do my best to help them reach that goal. So, I think I'm a people person for the most part. I believe that has really helped me on this path, even though I don't know all the answers right now. If you can connect with the patient, you're one step ahead. That's what I've learned.
On your personal time what's something that you enjoy doing?
I enjoy reading. As nerdy as it is, I do like to read in my free time...when I have it. I also like to work out. That kind of took a back burner for a little bit because I was injured the last couple weeks. It's not anything serious. It's an injury, a chronic injury that I’ve been battling for years now...so just chronic back pain issues that have flared up. I would say reading and working out are my two top activities for sure. Now when I read, I'm reading research articles that I'm interested in and stuff like that.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In three to five years, eventually, I want to work in sports, but in the first five years I probably would be more in outpatient practice trying to start a lower-level sports clinic and then work my way up to working with high-level athletes. Hopefully, I will be at my starting point, working in outpatient orthopedics but with a specialty in sports.
What advice do you have for other students attempting to enter into physical therapy school and maybe they've tried before they didn't get in or they're just doubtful about getting into it in the first place?
I would just say trust the process. If you didn't get in the first time, I know it has really helped some people to look into the specific school they want to go to and see what they're looking for because every school has a different requirement in different areas that they look at. Like Fresno State has a huge emphasis on community service, so if you want to go to Fresno State, you should have a lot of community service hours. They're not all about you have to get all “A”s all the time and you're going to get in. If you have all “A”s and you have no community service, you might not get in there. Every school has different things that they look at so maybe taking a second look at what specific school you want to go to and how you can strengthen your application. Other than that, just keep the course. Don't give up hope. If you feel like this is for you, keep going because you will get in.
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