Change of Plans

Ana-Marie Nelson

After her freshman year at another school, Ana-Marie Nelson chose to transfer to Augustana.

Here, she says, she found inspiration from passionate professors, meaningful friendships, opportunities to explore the world and guidance as she pursued graduate school.

Q. You transferred to Augustana from another school. Can you share what drew you here and how you knew it was a good fit for you?

A. My previous school wasn’t a great fit for me socially so I decided to look for other options. During Christmas break, I toured a couple different schools in the Midwest. When I came to Augie, I immediately felt welcome.

The professors I visited with genuinely seemed interested in me and where I wanted to go in the future.

It just felt so welcoming. People were interested in me as a person. I felt like I’d have guidance and structure while I was here. I started at Augie at the start of sophomore year.

Q. What was your experience as a transfer student like? What was the transition to a new school/classes/friends/community like for you? Were there people or processes that made the experience easier?

A. I moved into Granskou Hall and was welcomed right into a group that became my group of friends.

I was able to move in a day early to get settled and do transfer student activities. I met other transfer students, so I didn’t feel like I was the only one.

Q. Tells us about your internship experiences.

A. During my junior year, I worked in Avera Health’s outpatient physical therapy area under a physical therapist. I was in a disability wellness gym working with patients, helping them progress.

I also got to experience other physical therapy areas of Avera – acute, in-patient and aquatic. I also got to work with Parkinson’s patients. When I ultimately applied to grad school, it was a benefit to me having had all these hours built up in different areas.

Q. How did you become interested in physical therapy?

A. I was really interested in math and science in high school. I knew I wanted to go into the medical field. In high school, I observed different medical areas in my hometown and really fell in love with physical therapy.

Q. Tell us about your study abroad experiences.

A. During my junior year, I went to China for a study abroad experience focused on rehabilitation medicine with eastern and western practices mixed together. We looked at how traditional Chinese medicine is incorporated into physical and occupational therapies.

This January, I traveled to India. I’d already been accepted to physical therapy school and I didn’t need the credit, but I still really wanted another international experience. I sought out this adventure on my own. I flew in to Delhi and saw all the palaces, forts and the Taj Mahal. From there, I saw all the high points in northern India. Next I flew to the south and followed the southeast coastlines, then hopped over the mountains and finished the tour on the southern tip. I was able to visit Indian villages and I even got to participate in a festival with local townspeople.

Next up, I’m planning to go to Peru three days after graduation with my parents.

I think these experiences will be really helpful to me in my career. I’ll be able to understand people from different backgrounds and cultures. I’ll be able to be more respectful and understanding toward my patients.

Q. Talk about choosing a grad school and what’s next for you.

A. I had about 12 schools on my list to potentially apply to. I’d completed my PTCAS application and my mom and I went on a road trip – we covered five states in five days – looking at different PT schools.

Until you go there and get a feel for things, it’s hard to know whether it’s a good fit. That trip helped me rank the schools I was really interested in.

By mid-August, I had officially applied to my top five choices. I ended up being accepted into my top three schools. I never expected that!

When I got the call from Creighton [University], they said that in addition to my acceptance into the program, they had other good news. They said, “We want to offer you a scholarship.”

That was huge. There’s only about three scholarships for the entire incoming class of 62 students.

I ultimately have decided to go to Creighton. It really matched with my personality. They have clinical opportunities all over the U.S. – I’ll be able to go and explore different places and see what life is like in other areas for six to eight weeks at a time. I’ll also have international opportunities – in China and in the Dominican Republic. With my love of traveling and experiencing new things, that really meshed with me.

The PT program at Creighton runs Monday through Thursday. Fridays are devoted to research or working with professors at under-served clinics.

I’m really excited. And, I feel ready. I think Augie has prepared me socially and academically – I got such great experiences. It’s worth it.