Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month Student Highlight
Get to Know: Abigail CastroOct 3, 2022
Get to Know: Abigail Castro
Q&A by Tori Serna
What made you want to pursue a career in physical therapy?
A quick and funny backstory; I was first introduced to physical therapy through a show called Naruto. My favorite character, Rod Lee, got injured and a few of the bones of his spine ended up going into his spinal cord. After his injury, I saw how he was unable to walk or do any of the things he loved doing, including his life goal of becoming a ninja. He went to physical therapy every day and viewers were able to see his progression on the show. Rod Lee was eventually able to return to his training and continue with his dream of becoming a ninja.
As I got older, I explored what a career in physical therapy would look like. My niece has Cerebral Palsy and I was able to observe her improvement from attending physical therapy as well. Although she does have some muscular limitations due to Cerebral Palsy, she is able to walk and function. The benefits of physical therapy were real and no longer just evident in a show. As my niece improved over time, she was able to play with other kids and I could see how happy that made her. I’m interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, specifically pediatric physical therapy, because of my niece.
How has CU Anschutz Physical Therapy Program allowed you to pursue your goals?
Ultimately, the CU Anschutz Physical Therapy Program has made me feel like I belong. They see me as a person and not just another number helping them satisfy their diversity statistic. During the interview process, they emphasized the holistic applicant, which I really appreciated. They didn’t only focus on our grades or GPA, which was nice for a change. They also implore us to look at our patients holistically and I feel they’ve been able to model what that looks like as well. The program has opened my eyes up to other specialties I’m interested in pursuing, like pediatrics and pelvic floor physical therapy. During clinical rotations and classes, I have the opportunity to explore those tracks and get more information about anything I’m interested in. We have a wide variety of professors that specialize in many different areas and I’m fortunate to be able to have access to them for the next couple of years.
What is your “why”?
My “why” has transformed since I’ve been in the physical therapy program. CU Anschutz implements clinical rotations early within our schooling, which is one of my favorite things about this program. In the summer semester, we learned how to do transfers, manual muscle tests, and wound care. During clinic, I’m able to apply all that I’ve learned in real life scenarios. Aside from clinical rotations being a nice break from lectures, it motivates me. It motivates me to really pay attention in classes, so that I can apply what I’m learning to the patients I will see in my next clinical rotation in November. When I’m feeling burnt out with classes, having a reminder that another clinical rotation is coming up, and knowing that I will be able to interact with real patients, is the only motivation I need.
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?
Celebrating this month while pursuing a Doctor of Physical Therapy means a lot to me because of how we, as a people, are advancing socially. Hearing about our accomplishments, like the first female Mexican astronaut to fly to space, makes me proud to be Mexican and see all that we do for this country. Hispanic/Latinx heritage month is an important recognition because diversity within the United States is what makes the country worth living in. Since moving to Colorado, I’ve noticed there is a large population of Latinx individuals, which makes me excited to serve my community. One of the ways I’ve tried implementing my part in this program is by joining in on meetings designated to those that are historically marginalized. I’ve also talked with a few prospective physical therapy students about how CU Anschutz Physical Therapy is diversifying their program and how they’re working to ensure the success of people of color, in hopes that they’ll consider applying to this school. I hope to soon be a part of the different community outreach initiatives that focus on promoting diversity within the profession, specifically by mentoring students of color within the community.
What words of encouragement do you have to share with future students of color pursuing careers in healthcare?
I know most of us might not have had the greatest of experiences with healthcare, because our provider didn’t understand us or look like us, but we shouldn’t let those negative experiences affect what we can do with our future. By becoming a future healthcare provider, you will help your patients feel more comfortable, which will allow them to get the best care they need. Representation matters and at the end of the day, it’s important that our patients feel comfortable talking to at least one of their healthcare providers. How awesome would it be if you’re that person to somebody?