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Student Activities

Mountains of WNC


What does WCU have to offer you?



As one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, Western North Carolina attracts people who want to get out and enjoy nature. Our students and staff often spend their free time hiking or mountain biking through national forests, and plenty of nearby camping destinations provide a fun way to unwind on weekends. 

Learn more about the university, "Top Adventure College" by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, and the surrounding area at Life in Western North Carolina.

DPT Life

Student hiking


Hiking: The Health and Human Sciences building (HHS) is nestled half a mile from main campus at the foot of WCU's trail system.

The trailhead to challenging hikes and beautiful views is right in our parking lot, so you don't have to stray too far to get a good, scenic hike in!

Paradise Falls, Black Balsam Knob, Waterrock Knob and Cullowhee Falls are other popular spots that aren't too far away.

Class of 2019 rafting


WCU trail map
Whee Falls Guide
Blue Ridge Parkway Mileposts




Food: There are several restaurants, coffee shops, and microbreweries in the surrounding area. If you're looking for something quick, Java City is located in HHS and provides daily hot lunch options and delicious coffee! Main campus also offers options including Panda Express, Moe's Southwest Grill, Chick-fil-A, Chili's, Starbucks, and Einstein's Coffee and Bagels.

When you're in the area, our students recommend checking out Sazon's, El Patron, Guadalupe, Haywood Smokehouse for BBQ, City Lights Cafe for coffee and brunch, and Innovation Brewing or Bogart's for a taste of the local scene.

zombie 5K


DPT Gives Back: As DPT students, we give back to our community by serving weekly in our student run Mountain Area Pro bono Health Services (MAPHealth) Clinic. This gives us an opportunity to get hands-on clinical experience while giving back to the community.

We host fun events to support MAPHealth and to increase awareness of the clinic. One of our favorite fundraisers is the annual 5k Run during which DPT students get some exercise and give back!



Department Fun: Yes, we are here to work hard, but we have a lot of fun doing it! During breaks from class, you almost always find our students playing hackey sack, four square, or spike ball outside in our spacious courtyard with a beautiful view. Sometimes, our professors will even join in for the fun! Students become family both in and out of class.



Intramurals: WCU DPT students love intramurals, and there are plenty of sports throughout the year!
Flag football, outdoor and indoor soccer, basketball, softball, ultimate Frisbee, and name it.
Interested in seeing what sports are available or how to create a team? Look no further! Visit the Intramural Sports Page.



WCU Sports: The DPT crew likes to enjoy Catamount football and tailgating on beautiful fall Saturdays (tickets are FREE if you reserve them online). 

Enjoy basketball games at Ramsey center, and find your inner catamount at countless other sporting events throughout the year! Check for updates on Catamount Sports.


Class of 2020 MS


Name: Mark Clarke

Hometown: Fairview, North Carolina

Undergrad: English Lit & Creative Writing

Hobbies outside of PT: Hiking, Biking, Sports, Playing Music, Mushroom Hunting, Filling out Forms

What is something people would be surprised to know about you? 

I can recite the entire movie Cool Runnings from memory.

What is a cause you are passionate about? 

Encouraging people to care for the planet and spend more time outside. 

Describe your journey to choosing physical therapy as your profession.

I graduated college with little idea of what kind of job I wanted. I loved studying literature, but I was not sure what to do with my degree, so I went and worked on a farm. In 2014, I got married to beautiful woman named Asia, who was just about to start a graduate program in speech language pathology. I became interested in the allied health field and started talking to different professionals about their careers. I decided PT was for me after many talks with therapists and some shadowing in a nearby clinic. I loved the philosophy of therapy, the unique patient-therapist interactions, and the depth of knowledge that I saw in the clinic. I like to think of the therapist as an editor who helps clients to rethink the narratives they tell themselves about the capability of their bodies. 

Discuss why you chose the DPT program at WCU and/or what you have appreciated about your experience at WCU. 

I love that the WCU program is focused on producing great clinicians. The atmosphere is so positive and conducive to learning. The students really care for each other and the faculty and staff have done a great job fostering a culture of interdependence and mutual respect that is so crucial to success both during school and long after graduation.

Is there anything else you would like to share about WCU, the DPT program, or your future aspirations in the physical therapy profession?
The WCU DPT program is amazing! Everyone involved is so dedicated to seeing the students become great clinicians. I can’t think of a better environment for learning and growth.

Student Spotlight AD 2021


Name: Dani Harris

Age: 33

Hometown: Forsyth, GA, though I most recently lived in Wilmington, NC 

Undergrad: BS Biology from UNCW

Hobbies outside of PT: Hiking, skiing, spending time with my husband

What is something people would surprised to know about you?  

You can google “female flight engineer coast guard” and find an article written while I was the only female Flight Engineer in the CG.

What cause are you passionate about?

Spread happiness. It’s not a cause, per se, but I firmly believe happiness (love, compassion, positivity etc.) is almost always the answer.

Describe your journey to choosing physical therapy as your profession.
At first, I thought physical therapists were glorified personal trainers. I didn’t understand everything going on behind the scenes at my first PT experience. Then I had in-depth conversations with my mom’s, brother’s and grandfather’s physical therapists as they recovered from accidents and surgeries. I realized PT would be an almost perfect fit for my personality and the lifestyle I am most suited to.

Talk about a time when you felt proud to have chosen physical therapy as a profession, or had a moment when you were energized by being a part of the profession.

Every time I mention going to PT school, someone has a “good PT” story to tell. They usually include that the PT put them through more pain than anyone else, but in the end, they also understand the reason they got back to doing what they love, it is in large part because of the PT!

Discuss why you chose the DPT program at WCU and/or what you have appreciated about your experience at WCU (for example, student-centered focus, service-learning emphasis, physical

location and facilities, etc.)

I chose WCU based on gut instinct that it is a good fit for me. Now, every time I turn around I find something else to be impressed with about the program. I can’t speak highly enough about the support that WCU DPT program provides! I can’t imagine being anywhere else at this point!

Name: Megan Hutchinson

Age: 23

Student Spotlight AG 2022


Hometown: Parkland, Florida 

Undergrad: B.S. in Family and Child Sciences from Florida State University (go noles!)  

Hobbies outside of PT: Running, rollerblading, hiking, and rock climbing.

What is something people would surprised to know about you?

I am moving to Alaska after graduation! 

What Cause are you passionate about? 

I am passionate about making an impact in my community through
volunteering and community outreach programs. After graduation, I yearn to continue my efforts by becoming an officer in the United States Public Health Service, to promote and integrate rehabilitation services in
underserved populations around the nation. 

Describe your journey to choosing physical therapy as your
Initially, my fascination with physical therapy stemmed from a variety of running-related injuries I sustained while competing in high-school. After cross country and track practice, I would spend hours deciphering which
anatomical structure was causing the injury and researching exercises and stretches to alleviate my pain and ultimately remedy the issue. My experience recovering from injuries may have kindled my passion for physical therapy, however, it wasn’t until I began volunteering in clinics and witnessing the difference it made in patient’s lives that I discovered my true fervor for the field. My motivation in pursuing this career is tied to the meaningful experiences I gained with patients while volunteering in clinics and hospitals around my college community.

Talk about a time when you felt proud to have chosen physical therapy as a profession, or had a moment when you were energized by being a part of the profession.
I felt energized about being part of this profession with the addition of the MAPHealth clinic in Asheville. I am excited there is now a second pro bono clinic for the Asheville cohort to allow our class more opportunities to become involved in the clinic, student board, and community.
Discuss why you chose the DPT program at WCU and/or what you have appreciated about your experience at WCU (for example, student-centered focus, service-learning emphasis, physical location and facilities, etc.)
I chose Western Carolina University’s DPT program because of its pro bono clinic, location, professors, and cost of tuition. The pro bono clinic was a significant factor for me because volunteering initially blossomed my passion for physical therapy and I wanted to become involved in the clinic to help facilitate my learning and make a difference in the community. In addition, I yearned for a break from Florida’s sweltering climate and wanted to experience the city of Asheville and new outdoor activities in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Another reason I chose WCU, is because I felt that
the professors truly cared about their students and loved their careers. Lastly, as an out-of-state student, my tuition is still less expensive than the majority of in-state schools I was looking into.

Is there anything else you would like to share about WCU, the DPT program, or your future aspirations in the physical therapy profession?

I feel like my classmates and professors will do whatever it takes to help me succeed in this program. All of my classmates and professors have been so supportive and encouraging especially during these uncertain times with COVID. I am so grateful that I chose Western Carolina University for physical therapy school.

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