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.
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.
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.
DPT Gives Back: As DPT students, we give back to our community by serving weekly in our student run Mountain Area Pro bono Physical Therapy (MAPPT) Clinic. This gives us an opportunity to get hands-on clinical experience while giving back to the community.
We host fun events to support MAPPT and to increase awareness of the clinic. One of our favorite fundraisers is the annual Zombie 5k Run during which the participants are chased by zombies (our students!) around campus for a scary good time!(Halloween time, of course).
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!
Intramurals: WCU DPT students love intramurals, and there are plenty of sports throughout the
Flag football, outdoor and indoor soccer, basketball, softball, ultimate Frisbee, and volleyball...you 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.
Name: Taylor Gentry
Hometown: North Wilkesboro, NC
Undergrad (Degree, Major, University): Bachelor's of Athletic Training, Western Carolina University
Hobbies outside of PT: ATVs, photography, hiking, spending time with friends and family
Something people would be surprised to know about you? I am a part of the first ever softball state championship team from Wilkes County.
What is a cause you are passionate about? American Cancer Society
Describe your journey to choosing physical therapy (PT) as your profession: When I was in the 7th grade I was injured playing softball. I had to go through 6 months of PT on my back and shoulder, when I fell in love with the profession. Then, when completing my observation hours and getting to witness the impact physical therapists can have on someone's function as well as their life, I knew PT was exactly what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.
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: Being the Operations Coordinator for MAPPT has afforded me numerous moments when I have felt proud to be a part of the profession. One of our patients was diagnosed with terminal cancer and our students were working a lot on restorative and compensatory strategies to aid him with his daily life. He expressed to me every time he was in the clinic how much he loved all of us, how he felt he would not be able to do half of what he was doing at home without our help, and just how grateful he was for people like us. He is a perfect reminder of why I chose this profession and what makes it all worth it.
Discuss why you chose the DPT program at WCU and/or what you have appreciated about your experience at WCU: I originally chose the DPT program at WCU because of the Mountain Area Pro-bono Physical Therapy Clinic that Dr. Hyatt had started. I have always enjoyed volunteering and giving back; so, I knew the clinic was something I definitely wanted to have a part in, whether it was on the Student Board or just as a volunteer. Western is in such a rural area and the migrant farm worker population is so high that I knew this clinic had the potential to grow into something great and I wanted to be a part of that.
Is there anything else you would like to share about WCU, the DPT program, or your future aspirations in the physical therapy profession? WCU will always hold a special place in my heart. This University has afforded me so many great opportunities between my Undergraduate and Graduate career, and for that I will forever be grateful! Go Cats!
Name: Cameron Overstreet
Hometown: Mechanicsville, VA
Undergrad (Degree, Major, University): University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Major: Exercise and Sport Science
Hobbies outside of PT: Running, yoga, hiking, hanging out with friends, drawing, eating good food
Something people would surprised to know about you? I once walked the length of half a football field on my hands.
What is a cause you are passionate about? I am passionate about sustainability. The theme of sustainability takes on many forms in my life. I strive to sustain my health and work to rehabilitate others through physical therapy so that they can maintain a happy, healthy life. I work to sustain my relationships with family and friends, even those living in other countries, as they bring me joy and make me a better person. I am also passionate about maintaining a clean, sustainable environment so that future generations can appreciate the beauties of Mother Nature.
Describe your journey to choosing physical therapy as your profession: From age three through college, I competed in either gymnastics and/or pole vaulting. While I never suffered a major injury, I became interested in injury prevention and exercise to be my most active, healthy self and to compete at my highest level. When choosing a profession, I reflected on my passions for exercise and helping others and physical therapy was an opportunity to combine both of these.
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. Working with people in the field makes me feel proud to be a part of the physical therapy profession. Many patients come to PT at their worst. They are in pain, sleep-deprived and frustrated about how this injury or illness has consumed their life. Many patients will argue, complain and tell you that PT really stands for “Pain and Torture.” However, when they push through pain and fatigue to stand up after lying in a hospital bed for many days, for example, it is very motivating. To get to impact someone’s life through mobility makes me proud to be a part of the profession
Discuss why you chose the DPT program at WCU and/or what you have appreciated about your experience at WCU: I could not have chosen a better program for PT school thanks to the professors, class culture and location of WCU’s DPT program. The professors are invested in every student both in the classroom and as a person and they frequently seek our feedback on how to make the program better. The professors and previous classes have also established a class culture that is supportive of one another and fosters lifelong friendships. Lastly, WCU’s campus is located in the mountains offering many opportunities for exploring the outdoors, hiking and rafting!
Name: Matt Oberst
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
Undergrad (Degree, Major, University): Bachelors of Exercise Science from the UNC Wilmington
Hobbies outside of PT: Lifting, sports, mountain bike riding, reading, investing in stocks
Something people would surprised to know about you? I was the chess club champion at my school in 5th grade, which I still enjoy playing.
What is a cause you are passionate about? Promoting a healthy lifestyle
Describe your journey to choosing physical therapy as your profession: Growing up I had always enjoyed and done well in science classes above most others. I also began lifting weights at my YMCA at an early age. I have a few close family members that are physical therapists, so I’ve had exposure to the profession from the beginning. After a few sports injuries brought me closer to the profession as a patient, I realized that physical therapy combines my interests and talents into a challenging yet fun profession.
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: While shadowing a physical therapist in an inpatient rehab setting, I saw a patient progress from limited function in his legs after a very serious motor vehicle accident, to a normal gait pattern over the course of a few months. This was a perfect example of the life-changing services that physical therapists often provide and made me all the more eager to be a part of the profession.
Discuss why you chose the DPT program at WCU and/or what you have appreciated about your experience at WCU: After completing my interview in late 2016 I remember being very impressed with the Health and Human Sciences building and the interesting and personable professors that I met. Since completing my first semester in the program, I am sill impressed by both.