Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month Student Highlight
Get to Know: Jennifer ArevaloSep 15, 2022
Get to Know: Jennifer Arevalo
Q&A by Tori Serna
What made you want to pursue a career in Physical Therapy?
I always knew I wanted to work in healthcare, but I didn’t know where. I wanted to help people. I would watch videos of soldiers coming home and not only did that make me emotional, but it inspired to be a part of something heroic. I did research on this population and discovered that physical therapists could work with soldiers or military veterans with amputations. However, during my time as a PT Aide, I saw how broad the field was and that is what made me stay with this profession because I appreciated the diversity it brings.
How has CU Anschutz Physical Therapy program allowed you to pursue your goals?
When I was applying for Physical Therapy programs, I researched the location and their professors. There is a VA on campus, and this was already a passion of mine. I knew I wanted to attend an institution that aligned with my values. From the beginning of the application process, CU Anschutz used a holistic approach that made me feel welcome and heard. I feel as if I’m treated as a colleague and have been exposed to a variety of networking opportunities with not only my professors but the TAs and guest lecturers that we’ve been exposed to; many of which have done some sort of specialty in amputations. CU Anschutz does a great job of bringing a variety of views for students to better understand the content and gives their students different perspectives, models, and mentors we’re able to use within our career.
What is your “why”?
Like most of my classmates, I went into this field because I wanted to help others. However, my why has evolved since I’ve been in the program and I take great value in being able to not only have a steady career, but one that allows me to have work-life balance while still making a difference and enjoying moments with family and friends; all while evolving as a person.
September 15 – October 15 is a month to celebrate the independence of Latin countries and honor the Hispanic/Latinx heritage, which has contributed to the advancement of this country. What does this mean for you? In what ways do you feel you have contributed to the advancement of this Physical Therapy program?
Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month makes me think about the diversity the Hispanic/Latinx community brings. It’s a beautiful thing because even though we may speak different languages or dialects, we still have a common value of family and perseverance and this month is meant to highlight that. Being a first generation Guatemalan-American, I know my parents have sacrificed a lot for my brother and I to have a better education and life. Those traditions and values passed down are something I hope to pass down to my children.
Being the representation that matters, I’ve been able to provide insights of my background and heritage to some of my classmates and colleagues. We just finished our first clinical education rotation and a few of my classmates had questions about how to connect with patients that speak a different language. I was able to either teach them Spanish they can use in clinic or just give them things to think about to better understand and treat their Hispanic/Latinx patients. Knowing that my classmates are able to come to me about those things is an amazing feeling and helped boost my confidence in my abilities as a student of physical therapy and future clinician.
What words of encouragement do you have to share with future students of color pursuing careers in healthcare?
I would tell them to keep going. People are going to try and stop you or tell you that you don’t belong, but you must know that representation matters. Being able to communicate with a patient, when previously nobody else has been able to is one of the many reasons why you should never stop. Your future patients, especially the ones that look like you will really appreciate you. Although there is a lot of pressure coming from the families of first-generation college students to graduate and be finished with school, there is no one correct path.
I took a 4-year gap period where I worked and got experience in the field, retook classes, and traveled in hopes to become a better applicant for this program. Find your path and run with it because it will take you to the finish line. My family has a phrase they would say to my brother and I growing up; “Ponte las pilas,” which can be an idiom to “don’t give up” or “get to work.” It won’t always be easy, but remember that within our culture, we take pride in where we come from. Take that same pride and show you belong, because you do.
“Ponte las pilas mija, todo te va salir bien, tu vas a estar bien.” - Mom