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

Rizing Tide annually awards the Crest scholarship to 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


Ruth Morales-Flores

Northwestern University

Growing up undocumented and uninsured has provided Ruth Morales-Flores with a unique perspective on the U.S. 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 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.


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 set Elisha apart as a Rizing Tide Scholar.

Ricardo Locci

Ricardo Locci

Northwestern University

After facing years of physical and mental health struggles, Ricardo “Ricky” Locci credits the power of movement and exercise with 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 tools to adopt a healthy lifestyle. 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.

2021 Rizing Stars


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.


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 was 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.

Surge Scholars

Rizing Tide annually awards the Surge scholarship to graduating physical therapy students or licensed physical therapists who are entering a residency program.

2021 Scholarship Winners


Stephon Moise, DPT

AdventHealth Orlando Orthopedic Residency Program

Stephon is a newly licensed physical therapist. He received his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Central Florida and is completing an orthopedic residency program for specialty certification with AdventHealth. He spends his time staying active by playing soccer with friends and he enjoys treating lower extremity injuries of the hip, knee, and ankle.


Uzair Mohammed Hammad, DPT

University of Central Florida and Orlando Health Neurologic Residency Program

Uzair was born in Pakistan and raised in Miami, Florida. He graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's in human performance and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. Upon graduating, he immediately pursued residency training with an emphasis on Neurologic Rehabilitation—and what a journey it has been. He has grown tremendously since graduating and starting residency (both professionally and personally), and he is beyond grateful that he pushed himself to pursue this path...

Believe it or not, he was the student who wasn’t accepted into a DPT program on his first attempt (and he applied to many). However, he truly believes that struggle, hardship, and pressure can turn the tiniest piece of coal into the most precious diamond—and he's grateful be the coal who transformed himself into something better. He strives to see challenging experiences as opportunities rather than "punishments'' and this mindset has shaped him to become a self-driven, inquisitive, and empathic person who strives to do right by his patients and fellow human beings.

His research interest and passion lies in successfully fulfilling the gaps and overcoming the barriers neurological patients face on a daily basis. He hopes to one day develop an affordable and effective means of access to physical therapy for patients who are otherwise unable to access such resources—whether that be due to socioeconomic status, transportation, or restrictions placed on therapy by insurance companies.

When he's not working, Uzair like to refuel his passions by doing things he enjoys such as reading, hiking, traveling, and spending time with those he cares about. He takes his free time seriously, because prioritizing his self-care is his antidote to preventing burnout.


Nanami Mano, DPT

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Geriatric Physical Therapy Residency Program

Nanami Mano is a geriatric physical therapy resident at the Centers for Rehab Services at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC CRS). She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Physical Therapy and serves as APTA PA Geriatric SIG Secretary. Nanami graduated from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with her Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2021 and a BS in Exercise Science from the University of Pittsburgh (2018). Her passion for geriatric care includes fall prevention, vestibular rehab, and working with older adults with progressive neurological disorders.