The award honors those who have displayed a great potential in providing future contributions to the physical therapy profession.
This summer, Deanna DeMarco G’23 received news that she had been selected to receive a state-level award from the American Physical Therapy Association North Carolina, an award that honors the hard work and accomplishments of those in the profession who demonstrate excellence in areas like clinical rotations, research, student leadership and more.
“It was Aug. 29 and I was on a lunch break with my current clinical rotation,” DeMarco said when she was informed of the good news. “That evening I told my professors and family, who’ve been constant sources of support throughout my academic endeavors.”
And on Friday, Oct. 17, DeMarco received the 2023 Outstanding PT Student Award at the American Physical Therapy Association North Carolina annual conference hosted by Elon. The APTA NC Award is designed to recognize a student with superior scholastic ability, excellence in clinical rotations, passion for community service, and demonstrated potential for future contributions to the profession and the association.
The next day, the APTA NC Student Scholarship Committee selected DeMarco for the 2023 Ben F. Massey, Jr. Student Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes a great legacy by providing a financial award for a student who demonstrates current and future potential to contribute to the physical therapy profession. Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Education Mary Kay Hannah accepted the scholarship certificate on Demarco’s behalf as she was returning to her clinical experience in Florida.
DeMarco has been a powerhouse of the physical therapy program since the moment she joined and began researching with her professors throughout her first year.
Her first research project with Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Education Srikant Vallabhajosula and classmate Albert Meyer G’23 investigated the sit-to-stand performance of older adults, utilizing the equipment in the School of Health Sciences. Another project with Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Education Crystal Ramsey determined the safety and feasibility of treadmill and bike protocols for assessing exertion intolerance following mild traumatic brain injury in older adults. She has presented her work at local, state and national conferences.
The hands-on work she performed outside of the classroom helped her narrow down her area of practice for physical therapy.
“I discovered my passion for neurologic physical therapy during my second year,” DeMarco said. “I had the opportunity to apply what I learned in the classroom setting in an advanced neuro-selective track, during my clinical experiences in outpatient and inpatient neurologic settings, and through volunteer service-learning opportunities treating individuals in the local community through the HOPE pro bono PT clinic.”
DeMarco’s interest in physical therapy as an entire profession, however, began at a much younger age. She grew up with her grandmother and witnessed her health journey through physical therapy exercises after a coronary bypass surgery. Additionally, she helped her father with his physical therapy sessions after his knee replacement while she was still in high school.
“I saw firsthand how these interventions improved their mobility and quality of life.” DeMarco said. “It took me some time to get here but I am glad I stuck with it and followed my passion for healthcare.”
Elon University helped foster a community of learning through hands-on experience and growth for physical therapy students. DeMarco credits Elon for shaping her journey as a student and physical therapist. The relationships she made along the way are built to last a lifetime.
“My time at Elon has been made more enriching and memorable by the friendships I’ve built with my classmates,” DeMarco said. “They have been a significant source of support, camaraderie, and shared growth.”