Still of Zahraa Darwich smiling while on a virtual phone call. Next to her, green text reads "Rizing Tide Zahraa Darwich 2022 Crest Scholar"

Building Relationships Through PT: Meet Rizing Tide Scholar Zahraa Darwich

Rizing Tide Team

This is the second 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!

In an abundance of caution, Zahraa Darwich applied to 13 different DPT programs. 

Did she need to? Almost certainly not. Her application was strong, and she diligently tailored it to fit the requirements of each individual program she applied to. But her caution benefitted her in the end; she was able to choose a DPT program (Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan) that allowed her to stay close to her support system, her family. 

At the end of the day, Zahraa found that self-confidence was just as important as remaining cautious during the application process—and to pre-PT students she says, “Have more faith in yourself than you think you do, because as much as you think that you’re not good enough, you really are.” 

Zahraa’s interest in physical therapy began when she was a child. During her own PT appointment, she saw a pediatric physical therapist working with a baby in a helmet—and had a lightbulb moment. Through physical therapy, she could help people by combining medicine and motion. Years later, while Zahraa played sports in high school, she realized the depth to which PTs could bond with their patients. “I think that’s what is really different about physical therapy compared to any other healthcare profession,” she says. “You have a longer route with a patient, so you’re able to just develop more of a relationship.”

Zahraa is now in the middle of her physical therapy journey and has some advice for students who are considering the pre-PT path: Just do it. “If you’re considering physical therapy, you have a reason for it, so run with it.” Zahraa believes that passion for PT makes the challenging aspects of schooling worth the effort. 

When the director of the Wayne State DPT program sent the Crest scholarship program information to Zahraa’s cohort (along with encouragement to apply), Zahraa realized that Rizing Tide was special—it wasn’t just another scholarship. She decided to apply, and felt empowered, even as she completed her interviews. “It was an empowering thing because it shows that you’re not alone. Everybody has challenges because of where they came from, who they are, what they look like, or what they have on their heads. And because of that, I was like, ‘I got this; we got this.’” She’s excited to see where the community takes her in the coming years. “I can already tell from like the first couple interactions with Rizing Tide that it is going to be awesome.”

As a future physical therapist, Zahraa wants to make her mark on the field of physical therapy via education. Zahraa hopes to help educate patients about the need and importance of physical therapy. “Even if it’s just in the small ways of talking to people and then people talking to other people, I think that educating and informing people is a huge way that I can help.”

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.