Rizing Tide Scholars

To combat the lack of diversity in the physical therapy profession, the Rizing Tide foundation annually supports a group of high-achieving individuals who are pursuing a career as a physical therapist and who come from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Crest Scholars

The Crest scholarship awards three incoming graduate school students of an underrepresented racial and/or ethnic descent, who plan to pursue a DPT degree either part-time or full-time.

2021 Scholarship Winners

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Ruth Morales-Flores

Northwestern University

Growing up undocumented and uninsured has provided Ruth Morales-Flores with a unique perspective on the US healthcare system. Her lack of access to quality care inspired her to pursue a career in which she could help others. Ruth had her son in her junior year of high school, and he was born with some developmental issues that required physical therapy. Her son’s PT was also of Hispanic heritage—and when she interacted with that PT, she felt heard by a healthcare provider for the first time in her life. This experience inspired her to become a physical therapist. Graduating summa cum laude from Harper College, she is now a second-year student in the Northwestern University Program for Physical Therapy. As a passionate and proud representative of her Latinx heritage with a strong commitment to her community, Ruth stood out during the interview process. We at Rizing Tide can’t wait to see her shine as a role model for both therapists and patients alike.

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Elisha Li

Washington St. Louis University

As a high school cheerleading choreographer and coach, Elisha recognized her strengths in teaching, evaluating movement, and motivating her peers. She discovered her passion for physical therapy by working with cerebral palsy and cancer patients at her school’s disability resources gym and became determined to pursue a PT career. Growing up in a small town in Illinois and attending St. Bede Academy, she developed a strong sense of commitment to her community and gave back through coaching, fundraising for town events, and mentoring dozens of teenagers through the years. Her networking skills will serve her well as a first year student at Washington University Program in Physical Therapy. Her determination to never be satisfied with the status quo, to empower patients while optimizing their movement, and to continue developing as a lifelong learner has made Elisha stand out as a Rizing Tide Scholar.

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Ricardo Locci

Northwestern University

After facing years of physical and mental health struggles, Ricardo “Ricky” Locci credits the power of movement and exercise for his recovery. Now, he wants to empower others to heal as a physical therapist. He began his physical therapist journey at Northwestern University after graduating with honors from Ohio State University. He’s also the founder and head coach of Fitting in Fitness, LLC: a business that serves clients from marginalized communities by providing education and healthy lifestyle tools. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Physical Therapy and a Master of Public Health degree so he can help underserved communities improve their physical and mental health by emphasizing preventive health through fitness, mobility, and lifestyle changes. We at Rizing Tide can’t wait to follow Ricky as he pursues his quest to truly change the world.

Rizing Stars

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Jacqueline Hua

Northwestern University

Jacqueline Hua, a first year physical therapy student at Northwestern University, was first introduced to the PT profession while accompanying her dad to an appointment to treat his frozen shoulder. As an NCAA Division 1 varsity fencing athlete, she herself sustained a back injury and underwent shoulder surgery for a torn labrum during her sophomore year. Needless to say, she spent a lot of time working with a physical therapist to get back to fencing. Although she always knew she wanted to be in healthcare, her career path became clear after she experienced how physical therapists work directly with patients to restore movement and function. As a member of the DEI committee for Northwestern University Athletics, she works to amplify the voices of BIPOC student athletes and educate coaches on how to provide a better team experience. We at Rizing Tide were intrigued by Jackie’s interest in blending traditional holistic Eastern medicinal practices with modernized Western medicine to provide the highest level of care to her patients. With strong problem solving skills and a self-proclaimed analytical mind, we believe Jackie will soar as a future PT and a Rizing Star Scholar.

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Tyrell McGee

Regis University

Inspired by his mother who worked in the medical field and by watching medical dramas on TV while growing up, Tyrell McGee pursued a career as a physical therapist and is a first year student at Regis University. He has also dedicated thousands of hours to observing and volunteering in different PT settings and continues to be amazed and excited about his future career. As a collegiate football athlete, he underwent knee surgery due to an infection—and got introduced firsthand to the benefits of physical therapy. During the last year and a half, his commitment to his community has heightened, especially in the wake of the death of George Floyd. He is eager to expand his reach as a mentor, coach, and health advocate in his local community. Tyrell’s grit and fortitude made him stand out as a candidate as he followed a unique educational path through the American Public University System and applied multiple times before getting accepted to a doctorate program. As a future PT, Tyrell is committed to helping others regain their quality of life through exceptional patient-centered care. As our Rizing Star, we are eager to see him shine and make an enormous difference in the lives of his future patients.