Student Highlight - Filipino American History Month
Get to Know: Angela Delos SantosOct 28, 2022
Get to Know: Angela Delos Santos
Q&A by Tori Serna
What made you want to pursue a career in physical therapy?
I’ve always had a desire to help others. The holistic approach that physical therapy takes is something that has always intrigued me and quite frankly, it’s the healthcare profession that sparks the most curiosity for me. The space for creativity is what drew me into this field. Learning how the body works to such a detail that we are able to improve the quality of life for those with any pain, injuries, and any other function or mobility deficits — always treating from the outside in. Being an expert at the human body is almost like having a superpower; a craft that one must work endlessly at to build and develop further.
How has CU Anschutz Physical Therapy Program allowed you to pursue your goals?
I received my bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Although a very prestigious school, it dampened my love for learning. I went from having classes of 30 in high school to sitting in a lecture hall that sat 400. It was often difficult to build the academic connections I craved, especially with my professors. I was hesitant to pursue further education because I thought that’d be the case again. The constant memorization of material, week in and week out, never really learning the content.
As early as our first week orientation, CU Anschutz DPT Program quickly put those worries at ease. The heart and soul of the program is the faculty. Each member has shown care and respect and I feel they truly want the best for my classmates and I. The faculty of this program provide me with the resources I need, the guidance I desire, and the confidence that I will be a great Doctor of Physical Therapy. This alone empowers me to have the same confidence within myself.
What is your “why”?
Self-motivation is important. To work hard for what you want and to be the best version of yourself every day. But as we know, life can get hard. It’s inevitable that some days we’re going to take L’s. We’re human. There are days where all I want to do is stay in my pajamas and not do any work. When those days come and my self-motivation is low, my pursuit to keep going is fueled by my family. My why is my family. Why I get up in the morning. Why I choose to study more times than I choose to watch Netflix. Because of their support, sacrifices, and unconditional love, I believe I can do anything I set my mind to.
My mother and I flew here from the Philippines with 2 suitcases of our belongings and nothing else. I was only 6 years old and had no idea what was going on and I could tell from my mom’s eyes that she didn’t either. Neither of us knew how long we’d be staying. Fast forward to today and here I am, the first in my family to pursue a doctorate degree in a field that drives my academic mind and fulfills my longing to help others. I watched my parents miraculously uproot their life as they knew it, to provide my siblings and I a brighter future here in America. They have worked endlessly to take care of me and all the dreams I’ve chased. My family is my why because if they can do everything they’ve done, I can do the work too. They’re my inspiration.
October is a month to celebrate and commemorate the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the United States. What does this mean for you? In what ways do you feel you have made your presence known during your time in this Physical Therapy Program?
If I’m being transparent, I didn’t know there was a month to celebrate Filipino-American heritage, but I’m so glad there is. It’s taken me my entire life to acknowledge my heritage and embrace my identity. Being honored this month means a lot to me. The cultural shock of immigrating at such a young age from the Philippines to California affected me immensely growing up. I unconsciously chipped away small pieces of my identity in order to fit in. I have struggled trying to re-identify myself as Filipino. I didn’t know how disconnected I was until the Summer of 2020, when I saw and heard everyone else speaking up for who they are. As I grow older and am now living thousands of miles away from my family, it’s my cultural heritage that helps to make me feel whole. Commemorating Filipino American heritage reminds me to take pride in who I am, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going.
Although I’m only in my 2nd semester of physical therapy school, I have the honor of being president of my class and am involved in various activities that help DPT students feel more recognized on our campus. The most recent being participation in setting up the new DPT student lounge. Others include making sure classmates voices are heard and planning class meetings with faculty. As president, I vowed to be a strong advocate and ally for my colleagues and offer a helping hand for whoever needs it.
What words of encouragement do you have to share with future students of color pursuing careers in healthcare?
Do it! Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your happiness, whatever that may look like. One of my favorite quotes is from the book, The Alchemist: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” It’s a reminder that I have the right to do what makes me happy. Everyone has the right to be happy, so don’t let anyone stop you from that pursuit. Know that you’re never alone. You must use your voice and put in hard work, but along the way, you’ll find friends, family, and strangers to help you on your journey. Reach out and ask for help or advice as much as possible. If I hadn’t reached out to as many people as I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Give back and share what you’ve learned with others. Most importantly, believe you are capable and that you belong. You’ve got this!