A Future Traveling PT: Meet Rizing Tide Scholar Maya Jones
This is the sixth 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!
Maya Jones—a DPT student attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)—was initially drawn to physical therapy due to its many specialization opportunities. “So once I graduate, I’m thinking about traveling, so I could travel the world with my profession. And then if I get sick of traveling, then I can go to outpatient. If I’m done with outpatient, I can go to acute care. If I’m done with acute care, I can go to home health. The options are endless.” But when it comes to picking her first niche to explore, Maya is stuck between two. Sports and women’s health both appeal to Maya—though for very different reasons. She feels drawn to sports physical therapy because she was an undergraduate collegiate athlete and played Division I volleyball. In contrast, she feels drawn to women’s health physical therapy because she is passionate about advocating for women. “I find it gratifying that I would be able to advocate for women that have a problem in such a sensitive area—especially women of color.”
No matter which niche she pursues, Maya strives to become an attentive and perceptive PT—one who can catch details that may potentially save lives or prevent future pain. “I want to be that PT that patients feel comfortable coming to—not just for PT related things, but personal things, because a lot of feelings and emotions are displayed in the clinic,” Maya says. “I don’t think people know this—PT can really be a gatekeeper for the healthcare profession because we can catch these things and send them, because we have the training to catch them and send them to physicians.”
After choosing to attend UAB because of its interview process, location, and outstanding professors, Maya is deeply enjoying her time in its physical therapy program. Since attending, she has found that each semester presents her with new challenges and requires her to adapt and adopt new learning strategies. She’s also loved connecting with her classmates; after only a few semesters, Maya already feels a close connection with many of her peers. She even teamed up with some of her classmates to found the Alabama chapter of NABPT: the National Association of Black Physical Therapists. NABPT works to increase diversity, not only within DPT education programs, but also in PT clinics.
For students considering physical therapy, Maya recommends shadowing as many settings as possible in order to find the magic of physical therapy. “A lot of students go into school thinking that is all PT has to offer and that is not the case.” As for practical tips, she urges pre-PT students to understand the expenses of the application process. “When you’re applying for a PT school, each school you apply for increases your application fees.” As such, Maya advises pre-PT students to create a list of their top schools before they start filling out applications—and apply only to the schools on that list. She also urges students to remember they’ll probably have to put down a deposit before attending school. “So if you are waiting for your dream school and you get acceptance letters prior to hearing about your dream school, realize that you’re going to have to put a deposit down for each school.”
While UAB has empowered Maya and connected her with a solid support system of peers, she also found encouragement and connection through Rizing Tide and its interview process. “I was very motivated to become the best PT I possibly could after that interview because they empowered me.” Receiving the Crest scholarship from Rizing Tide has allowed Maya to relax and focus more on her academics and her personal growth—and less on school expenses. Now, she’s looking forward to connecting with mentors who can help her along her physical therapy journey. “I’m always looking for a mentor and I feel like Rizing Tide is full of leaders and I’m excited to see what they can learn from me and what I can learn from them.”