Liam Henson smiling while on a virtual phone call. Next to them, green text reads "Rizing Tide, Liam Calvin Odesa Henson, 2022 Crest Scholar."

Providing Care for All: Meet Rizing Tide Scholar Liam Calvin Odesa Henson

Rizing Tide Team

This is the seventh installment of the 2022 Rizing Tide Lighthouse Series: a series of blogs and video interviews that spotlight our exceptional scholars. Stay tuned for the next installment!

Liam Calvin Odesa Henson was originally drawn to physical therapy to manage and improve his physical health. “I wanted to do physical therapy because I had asthma and I wanted to get a job that is like exercise medicine at its core.” But as he progressed through his schooling, he found a new motivation. “As I went on through my undergrad, I came to realize that queer entertainers here in San Francisco—specifically drag queens—don’t go to physical therapy. I want to change that.” For that reason, Liam is also considering niching down in orthopedics specialty. “I want to help queer entertainers in the Bay Area, and I’m under the impression that orthopedics will be best suited for that.”

Liam is currently a student in the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program at Samuel Merritt University, an institution that first stood out to them because of its diversity initiatives, clinical rotations, and research opportunities. After starting their first year, Liam dove head-first into the university’s extracurricular opportunities: “Right now I’m actually part of a mentorship program where we’re trying to pair student physical therapists with students who want to pursue physical therapy. I’m going to be a mentor myself, but I’m also part of the leadership team deciding the program.”

To students considering a PT degree, Liam’s main advice is to find your “why.” With so many career options in the healthcare field, they emphasize that it’s important to know why physical therapy is specifically your best match. “For me, I really like the hands-on aspect of physical therapy.” But of course, that may not be the case for every future provider.

While PT school has proven to be challenging for Liam (and they’ve been surprised by the time commitment required to absorb all the new material), they’re enjoying the program and its curriculum. “You start to understand why you’re learning something. Because in undergrad they always tell you to learn this or that…but you don’t exactly know why. But in grad school, what makes it so fun is you’re actually starting to see why you need to learn those things as a physical therapist.”

Liam is a big believer in the power of support systems—and became excited when they discovered the Rizing Tide scholarship and community. “I am an immigrant myself and I’m part of the queer community, so I wanted to be part of Rizing Tide because I really believe in representation and how powerful it is…Just the simple fact of knowing that groups like that exist, and that they want to help people, like themselves, better the community. I would like to be like that too, in the future.” 

Liam recognizes that there’s much work to be done in the physical therapy field—especially when it comes to the profession accessible to students and in welcoming underserved patients into the clinic. That’s exactly why Liam is passionate about improving the PT industry. “For me, historically, healthcare hasn’t been exactly welcoming to people like me, so I want to change that.”

About the Author

Rizing Tide Team

Rizing Tide is a scholarship program designed to empower a new generation of BIPOC leaders in the physical therapy profession. We partner with PT and PTA students, PT residents, and industry leaders to advance diversity and inclusiveness in the physical therapy workforce and inspire better—and more accessible—patient care.