Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month Student Highlight
Get to Know: Ryan MichaelSep 22, 2022
Get to Know: Ryan Michael
Q&A by Tori Serna
What made you want to pursue a career in Physical Therapy?
I’ve known I wanted to be a physical therapist since I was in high school. I was an athlete growing up and have always been intrigued by the way the human body works. When pursuing my undergraduate degree, I took courses like anatomy and movement science and fell even more in love with how the human body functions. After spending time working in a clinic as a Physical Therapy aide, I saw the impact I was able to make on individuals I worked with during their rehabilitation process. Helping them return to their baseline and seeing their joy when they did, is what locked it in for me. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in Physical Therapy.
How has CU Anschutz Physical Therapy program allowed you to pursue your goals?
I was initially intrigued to apply because of what the program stands for and the many shared values I had in common with the CU Anschutz Physical Therapy Program. In many ways, it’s helped me pursue my goal of increasing diversity and inclusion within the physical therapy profession by connecting me with various community service opportunities, like STOUT and DAWN Clinic and providing me a space to be a leader of the DPT Community Outreach Group. I’ve been able to collaborate and create events with like-minded faculty members and peers, which is another passion of mine. Being a part of the Community Outreach group has allowed me to actively work to provide mentorship opportunities for local high school students in the community, in hopes of informing them about the profession and bringing more diversity to the career. My overall goal is to introduce Physical Therapy to individuals who may not have access to learn about our profession.
What is your “why”?
When thinking of my “why,” it’s simple; I want to make an impact on someone’s life. I was raised to leave the world a better place than the way I found it and with a profession like physical therapy, I’m able to do that. People need healthcare but they also deserve to be provided support in many other facets of life as well. Whether big or small, physical therapy can impact more than just the health of an individual. Knowing I can make a difference is what motivates me to continue doing what I’m doing.
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?
Two values come to mind when I think of Hispanic/Latinx heritage: tradition and hard work. My family and community were big role models for me beginning at an early age. Growing up a part of this community, I realized that to get what you want from life, you must work hard for it. I watched my father raise my sister and I, get up early and come home late every day in order to provide for our family, making many personal sacrifices along the way. On top of that, he instilled family traditions that I hope to pass on to my family one day. Some of my best memories growing up were the weekly family dinners and going to my grandmother’s home. I remember running through the house, playing with my cousins, sneaking tastes of chile verde, as we made our way through the kitchen. I believe tradition and hard work are common values shared across many Hispanic/Latinx families and it’s one of the many reasons why I am proud to be a part of this community.
As a student of color, it’s important to model for other’s that it is possible to work in fields where we have been historically underrepresented and I’m proud to be able to do that through my involvement with the DPT Community Outreach group here on campus. Not only have I been able to advocate for the profession of physical therapy to the youth in the community, but I’ve also been able to be the change I wish to see.
What words of encouragement do you have to share with future students of color pursuing careers in healthcare?
I would encourage future students of color to not compare themselves to anyone. It’s easier to say and harder to do, but we all have our own personal goals and desires of what we want to accomplish. When I was able to take a step back and not compare myself to others, I realized that there are many ways to get to the same end goal. Know that your unique experiences will affect your personal path and are one of your greatest strengths. And although you might not feel confident all the time, stay true to yourself and stay focused on what you want to achieve. Be confident in yourself and the path that you are on.