LGBTQ+ Pride Month - Student Highlight 3Jun 23, 2022
Get to Know: Adriana Maldonado
Q&A by Tori Serna
What made you want to pursue a career in Physical Therapy?
Unlike most, an injury wasn’t what made me want to pursue a career in physical therapy. When I was in college, I minored in dance. There was a physical therapist in the dance building that would do preventative care with us, and she would take students for shadow hours if they wanted to learn more. The lectures were so interesting. I loved the concept of preventative care and the philosophy of helping people in a noninvasive way. After doing some shadow hours with her, I was hooked. I couldn’t imagine pursuing a different career path.
How has CU Anschutz Physical Therapy program allowed you to pursue your goals?
One of my goals was to practice Physical Therapy in the way that the physical therapist did at CU Boulder’s dance program. She preached self-sufficiency and independence. CU Anschutz teaches us to center the patient and, for me, that’s what sets ours apart from other programs. The professors here emphasize patient centered care, which aligns with the future clinician I aspire to be.
What is your “why”?
My why is to help and educate people on the things that they didn’t know that they could do. This is my favorite part of physical therapy. I enjoy giving patients exercises they feel they don’t know how to do and watching them see in real time that they can not only do those very exercises, but also the extent in which the exercises work.
June is a month to honor and celebrate the LGBTQ+ protestors in the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. What does this mean for you? How have you shown pride in the program?
Pride is wonderful. After many years of being ashamed and afraid of my identity, I’m grateful to have the ability to publicly celebrate. And it’s wonderful to be able to share in the different aspects of LGBTQ+ culture. My relationship with Stonewall is more complicated. I feel like people try to make Stonewall the end-all-be-all for queer activism. It was important, but it’s not the only riot or protest that happened. New Yorkers just happened to be really good at publicizing and organizing, which is why Stonewall created as much hype as it did. And I’m glad it did because it resulted in a lot of progress for our community. But queer people have always been here, it’s just that a lot of our history has either been erased or isn’t commonly known.
In the program we’ve had some conversations surrounding gender and pronouns and things of that nature. As a gender non-conforming person in the class, I’ve spearheaded some of those conversations. I’m both consciously and unconsciously looked at to lead those conversations. Not all conversations have been easy; I’ve had clinic in rural areas, where patients didn’t want gender non-conforming physical therapy students to work with them. However, continuing to advocate for patients is and always has been the light at the end of the tunnel.
What words of encouragement do you have to share with future LGBTQ+ students pursuing careers in healthcare?
The most important thing for LGBTQ+ students to remember is that you are valid, no matter how you identify. You are important. Diversity is what makes us, both the profession and CU Anschutz, stronger. Everybody has a place in healthcare. The moment that you treat a patient who can see their self in you, and feels safe and comfortable with you because of that, is one you will never forget. It makes everything worth it.
Check out PrideFest activities happening in Denver June 25-26, 2022!