Physical Therapy Program Students Visit Conestoga Middle School
Two students from the class of 2020, Bryan Llantero and Rachel Herron, along with adjunct faculty member Dr. Talina Corvus, volunteered their time to spend an hour with students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at Conestoga Middle School in November. Pacific students are representatives of the Physical Therapy Program’s Collective for Diversity and Social Justice, and outreach to youth in the community is a passion for them. While there, the team discussed the Physical Therapy profession, navigating high school, getting into college, and their personal strategies for succeeding as minority students or first-generation college students.
AVID is a national K-16 program with the mission to “close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society”. The program engages with education at all levels, from students to school leadership, and incorporates a focus on equity. Approximately 75% of Avid students come from low socioeconomic backgrounds while 80% of students come from underrepresented groups.
Sixth, seventh, and eight grade AVID students at Conestoga Middle School are enrolled based on need, such as first student in a family to aspire to college, poverty, or a challenging home situation. A group of approximately 85 students greeted the Pacific volunteers. They had been primed with a unit on Physical Therapy and they were energetic and ready to share what they knew.
Physical Therapy students engaged the middle school students with activities to demonstrate some of the areas of knowledge that physical therapists need to master. Rachel Herron taught students how to assess themselves for the presence of palmaris longus, a vestigial upper extremity muscle that is unilaterally or bilaterally absent in 1 out of 7 people. She then explained why physical therapists need to understand anatomy and both students shared that finding anatomy fascinating was one of their motivations for pursuing physical therapy as a career. Bryan Llantero worked with a student volunteer to use the Foam and Dome assessment strategy to test the middle school students’ theories about whether it is harder to stand on a soft surface with your eyes closed or while receiving false visual input. Pacific students then fielded explanations from Conestoga students on the outcome before explaining the three balance systems of the body.
Each member of the Pacific University team was able to share parts of their journey to graduate school, including the personal, social, and environmental factors that challenged or inspired them along the way. Lastly, Pacific students answered questions from the participants and stayed afterwards to chat with students who had additional questions about school or physical therapy, or who just wanted to say hello.
The Collective is a a new student group that was founded last Spring, by students Kelsey LaVaute (’20), Bryan Llantero (’20), Faith Mbugua (’20), Jodie Miyamoto (’20), and Rachel Herron (’20), with help and mentorship from Dr. Talina Corvus (’12) and Dr. Rachel Karpelowitz (’18). The Collective is dedicated to facilitating equity by advocating for inclusion, awareness, diversity, and social justice for marginalized individuals within the Pacific University Physical Therapy Program, the Physical Therapy profession, and the community. The group also believes that serving as mentors and role models can help young students see themselves as capable of succeeding in higher education. The Physical Therapy Program hopes to further develop a relationship with the AVID program to help close the achievement gap and increase diversity in the physical therapy profession.
Pictured above from left to right is Bryan Llantero (’20) and Rachel Herron (’20) speaking with students in the AVID program at Conestoga Middle School in Beaverton.