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James B. McKillip Scholarship for Physical Therapy

3 winners, $2,500 each
Application Deadline
Apr 1, 2024
Winners Announced
May 1, 2024
Education Level
Recent scholarship winners
Eligibility Requirements
Education Level:
Graduate student in their first two years
Field of Study:
Physical therapy

The James B. McKillip Scholarship is specifically crafted to aid physical therapist students who display an entrepreneurial spirit, ownership mindset and commitment to progress in the profession of physical therapy.

The entrepreneurial approach of these students enables them to identify opportunities, create solutions, and spearhead advancements in the physical therapy support the health and wellbeing of communities and the sustainability of the profession.

This scholarship seeks to honor James B. McKillip by supporting students who are leaders amongst their peers and are dedicated to lifelong learning. 

Any graduate student who is in a physical therapy program may apply for this scholarship opportunity. Ideal applicants will demonstrate personal and professional engagement, entrepreneurial savvy, coaching or volunteering experience, and leadership skills.

To apply, please write an essay explaining why physical therapy is important to you and how you hope to contribute to the profession through your career.

Selection Criteria:
Ambition, Drive, Passion
Published October 27, 2023
Essay Topic

Why is physical therapy important to you? What contribution would you like to make as part of the profession?

400–600 words

Winning Applications

Mena Azer
University of St. Augustine for Health SciencesSAN GABRIEL, CA
As an Egyptian immigrant where poliovirus was not eradicated in the developing country until 2006, as opposed to the 1960s in the U.S., my father was diagnosed with poliovirus and is currently living with post-polio syndrome. In addition, his lifelong battle with poliovirus led to recently developed spinal stenosis with multiple herniated discs at the lumbar region of his spine. Due to complications caused by severe radiculopathy, he required numerous urgent surgeries. Regardless of the physical pain he experienced, my father was determined to work hard to successfully provide for our family. However, chronic pain, fatigue, and declining mobility due to poliovirus and PPS impaired his quality of life and well-being. The empathetic pain and anguish I experience in response to the impact of poliovirus on my father's physical and mental health is why I decided to pursue a career in physical therapy. I aim to use the training and education I acquire to help others experiencing similar symptoms due to neuromuscular diseases, chronic pain, or impaired mobility to improve, reduce, and manage their pain and restore movement and physical function. While obtaining a career where I can help others restore and manage their physical function was a childhood dream that stemmed from seeing my father, a hero in my eyes for withstanding all the physical and mental ailments associated with his disease to provide for us, I was unsure where to start. That quickly changed when a simple family vacation during community college became a life-changing experience and gave me undoubtable certainty and affirmation of a prospective career in physical therapy. During my family vacation, I had the pleasure of meeting my father's childhood friend, and I learned about his occupation as a physical therapist. He spoke about his motivation for pursuing this career and the many patients he helped overcome their injuries and disabilities. This was the moment when I knew the career path I wanted to pursue. I was starstruck because I wanted to hear more about his experiences and the patients he has helped. I was blown away by how devoted he was to this career, and at that very moment, I knew this was the path I wanted to follow. A couple of years later, I earned my bachelor's degree in Kinesiology at California State University, Northridge, and applied to Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. However, I was not fortunate enough to get accepted. Despite being disappointed at the time, this did not discourage me. I applied to the Physical Therapy Assistant program at Loma Linda University and successfully earned my Physical Therapy Assistant license. I am currently work at Providence St. Joseph's Medical Center, which is part of Therapeutic Associates Inc. While I enjoy my career as a physical therapy assistant, there were other goals for my prospective career. My love for Physical Therapy has motivated me to continue with my education and pursue my Doctorate in Physical Therapy degree. I am attending the University of St. Augustine Health Science and continuing to work at Providence St. Joseph's Medical Center. Growing up and not understanding why my father could not participate in certain physical activities with me like other children's fathers was a struggle but a blessing in disguise. It made me realize that helping individuals like my father is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Erika Agege
George Washington UniversityLOS ANGELES, CA
Alyssa Horton
Texas State UniversityKATY, TX
The profession of physical therapy is personally important as it's a conservative treatment option that improves one's quality of life. With an out-reach to all populations in pain management, reaching process and outcome goals, and gaining independence. Physical therapists prioritize individualized treatment planning and meet patients where they're at in their recovery process. In addition, a coordinating aspect of the field that is important to me is the patient-therapist relationship. This field is a combination of emotional and intellectual intelligence. It homes in on the vitality of building rapport with patients from all walks of life. In regards to current contributions to the field, I serve as a physical therapy technician and owner/personal trainer for a single member LLC. Within my role as a technician in an outpatient-based setting, the business generally serves patients of all ages with orthopedic-related injuries. With that said, my boss has since transitioned to serving patients with neurologically derived disorders such as Dysautonomia and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Since my on-boarding in May 2023, I'm the primary technician that assists in treating these patients. With a common modality of a patented direct current device called the Neubie; to better help patients, I acquired a Level 1 Neubie Certification. To which, I co-treat under physical therapist supervision with the Neubie and specialize in training the physical therapists, technicians, and doctoral students on clinical rotation. Within my other role as owner/personal trainer for 80/20 Performance LLC, I serve current and discharged physical therapy patients with neurological and/or orthopedic based injuries. My mission is to facilitate the barriers to improving clients’ performance. In which, I provide 1:1, 1-hour services with emphasis in corrective-based exercise for strengthening underactive musculature, reducing muscle guarding, and overall preparing the body for movement with progressive exercise. In dedicating my future career as a physical therapist, my goal as a doctoral student is becoming multi-faceted in the realm of research, teaching, and didactic knowledge. With specialization in leadership and high-performance coaching, in which, helping patients to reach their fullest potential from a mental standpoint. Post-graduation from Texas State in 2027, I aspire to transition my personal training company to a physical therapy-based business. In coordination, I will be pursuing a high-performance coaching certification to incorporate as a separate service in the business. I look to contribute a business that values the physical recovery and facilitates the mental barriers preventing patients from improved self-efficacy and overall independence. To which, also advocating and building increased understanding in the profession about dysautonomia as it’s often misdiagnosed for years, and contributes to a reduced quality of life due to poor pain management.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Apr 1, 2024. Winners will be announced on May 1, 2024.

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