Greensboro native Preston Ellington’s journey to being a physical therapist started back in high school in a health and human sciences class.
Ellington, a first-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Western Carolina University, credits that initial high school class and the teacher who mentored and helped him decide to pursue a college degree.
“My teacher, Ms. Bowers, really engaged me in this world of kinesiology through the health and human sciences class in high school and up until that point, I wasn't even really sure I wanted to go to college,” Ellington said. “She encouraged me to look into kinesiology as a major and I found that the University of North Carolina Greensboro had one of the best undergraduate programs around. Shortly after that, she encouraged me to consider physical therapy as a career and that is when I discovered WCU’s doctoral program.”
Ellington said the decision to come to WCU was an easy one.
“I came for a tour and saw just how friendly and inviting the professors were and it seemed like a supportive, family-like environment,” Ellington said. “That atmosphere was really attractive and of course it's also one of the most affordably priced and highest value programs in the country, so the decision to come to WCU was made instantaneously.”
The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is a 33-month, full-time, entry-level program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Focused on student-centered learning, the program is dedicated to developing exceptional clinicians through a challenging curriculum built on inter-professional collaboration, evidence-based practice and community engagement. Throughout their studies, students are supported by faculty who are committed to their success in a dynamic learning environment.
“One of the things that I love the most about the program is how active and engaging the coursework is,” Ellington said. “We're able to learn the different intervention styles and become really familiar with the different modalities and have that skill set ready so that when we graduate, we're able to assist our patients in the best way possible.”
The crown jewel of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program is the pro bono clinic with sites in both Cullowhee in the Health and Human Sciences building and in Asheville at WCU’s Biltmore Park instructional site.
“The clinic is student-run so I volunteer quite a lot and get to see so many patients’ entire quality of life change for the better,” Ellington said. “It is pretty incredible how many ailments can be solved with access to physical therapy.”
Asked what impact the program has made on him so far; Ellington shared that the need for physical therapy is what keeps his passion burning for the field.
“I think one of the most impactful things that I've gotten from being in the physical therapy program at Western is the affirmation of the need for physical therapy and just how incredible of a career it is,” said Ellington. “We had a 10-year-old child who had never walked and it was really powerful to see that after several sessions, that same child was easily moving around on crutches. Fast forward a few months later and this child is kicking a soccer ball and their whole outlook on life and their future has completely changed from when they first arrived at WCU’s pro bono clinic.”