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Samantha Dawson

Samantha Dawson

Physical Therapist, Pelvic Floor Specialist

Hand and Orthopedics

"I was worried I wouldn’t get into grad school (PT school). I would tell other students to step out of their comfort zone on where they apply to Please note that the College of Science Career Development team may amend profiles as necessary. school. I applied to about 10 schools all around the country and was accepted into the University of Utah. At the time, I wasn’t aware of the prestige of the school- I just wanted to live in the mountains! Now, I absolutely love Salt Lake City & love the community (professional and social) that I’ve built here. If I hadn’t stepped out of my comfort zone- I wouldn’t have had these amazing experiences here!"

What was your major/minor at Purdue and when did you graduate?

I majored in Biology and graduated in 2015

What was your most compelling class and why?

I really loved medical microbiology (BIOL 533); I took this my final semester at Purdue. In grad school, I occasionally ran into topics discussed in that course; though it isn’t closely related to my career now. I just thought it was so interesting & challenging- but I learned about how all famous microbes work and transmit. Also, Dr. Mattoo was a really awesome woman & was very inspiring to me!

What are you currently working on?

I am in my first year of practice, so I’m working on gaining experience! I have chosen a specialty that focuses on the dysfunction of the pelvic floor; examples include: urinary/fecal incontinence, pelvic pain, sexual dysfunctions, pelvic organ prolapse, and many more. I chose this path because many (many) people face these debilitating problems, but are rarely addressed in our healthcare system. It’s empowering to help others regain function & live a happy, stress-free life!

What drove you to pursue your current career path?

I knew I wanted to work in healthcare. After meeting with the college of science career advisor (then Tamera Clarkson), I decided to shadow a few different providers. The minute I stepped into a physical therapy clinic, I knew I loved the connection you made with patients & the ability to help others.

Did you pursue internships/co-ops, research experiences, volunteer, or join student organizations while you attended Purdue?

I joined a sorority, I did research throughout school, and was involved in a variety of other clubs. I think my experiences helped schools I applied to know that I am able to work with others. Every PT school interview focused on how well you work in groups- I almost always related answers to my time in the sorority & how working with 75+ others at once was always a challenge (but made me a better team member!)

Are there any special accomplishments you've achieved after college that you might not have been able to do without your college experiences?

I truly think my degree from Purdue helped me get into grad school. I did research in Denis Minchella’s lab for 4 years & had a strong background in biology... many students applying to PT school come from a kinesiology/health/exercise background. No path is wrong, but I think my path helped me stand out in the crowd! Also- it doesn’t hurt that Purdue has an incredible reputation across the country. I was so proud to tell people where I went to undergrad!

What advice would you give to prospective or current Purdue students about how to make the best use of what Purdue offers?

Step out of your comfort zone! Don’t worry about what friends, family, or peers will think if you join the Grand Prix team or Greek life. If it feels right to you- it probably is! Even if it seems like a struggle, try new things. If it doesn’t work out, it will make you better and more experienced in the end! Also- be your own advocate. Purdue is a massive school, and there are hundreds of people who’s job it is to help you... but you need to seek them out. For example: I didn’t know anyone who wanted to be a physical therapist in my biology classes. Biology generally funnels students to research, medical school, and dental school (or that's how it felt when I was a student). I knew I didn’t want to be a medical doctor, but there were other options. Talking with Tamera helped me realize what my passion was... now, I am so delightfully happy with my career choice. It’s the perfect career and lifestyle for me!

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