Collin Christensen stands outside the Capital Building in Washington D.C. where he is serving as a student advocate for physical therapists.


Hononegah alumni mentoring others, receives college scholarship
By Marianne Mueller
Carroll University Graduate student Collin Christensen has won a scholarship to Washington D.C. as a student advocate for Physical Therapists.
Christensen’s journey started as a Hononegah High School student, and alumni, graduating in 2014.
“I knew in my later years of high school that I wanted to help others by becoming a physical therapist, “Christensen said. “This stemmed from a transformative experience in my health. I committed to become a student athlete and worked diligently, changing my diet and exercise habits, to lose over 50 pounds, build muscle and eventually compete as a varsity athlete. The time spent learning how to change my body fostered an interest in health, the human body and performance. “
“I always thought I would become an engineer and took college courses for it in high school but I came to realize I needed my career to align with my new passions. It was a counselor that suggested I apply my interests in exercise, mechanics, and health by studying exercise sciences and going on to become a doctor of physical therapy. I’ve been on that path ever since.”
“While I am a full-time graduate student I also split my time working as a personal trainer, sports performance coach and tai chi instructor. I also operate my own business; FORGE Fitness & Wellness, where I help my clients achieve their wellness goals through a combination of exercise, nutrition and lifestyle modification coaching.”
“As far as physical therapy work, I train during seven to 12 week clinical rotations across a variety of settings ranging from acute hospital care to outpatient sports medicine. I supplement my school education with a mentorship in orthopedics and manual therapy. Lastly, I get additional practice providing free physical therapy services in a pro bono neurological clinic hosted by Carroll University.”
Christensen’s hard work has earned him a scholarship for participating in healthcare advocacy. “The scholarship partially funds an opportunity to travel and work alongside professionals advocating for healthcare reform at both the state and federal levels in Washington, DC. We are advocating on behalf of our patients and profession to increase early patient access to physical therapy to better combat the national opioid epidemic,” Christensen said.
Christensen’s mentorship responsibilities aim to enhance his clinical skillset for managing orthopedic conditions. “I also am learning the workings of a private practice clinic. My mentor specializes in orthopedic manual therapy, which is essentially the use of your hands to examine, diagnose and treat musculoskeletal dysfunction. My responsibilities include shadowing, practicing hands-on application and analyzing current medical research to inform best clinical practice.”
“I have had several inspirations; role models that have driven me to pursue my current dreams,” Christensen reflects. “My earliest inspiration to become a physical therapist came from a well-known YouTube and physical therapist by the name of Jeff Cavalierre. His content inspired my current passion for incorporating fitness, wellness and performance into my practice of physical therapy. My direct, personal mentors include Drs. Matt Paluchniak, Greg Todd, and Javier Carlin who have all inspired and taught me to leverage the unique skillset of a physical therapist to create the change we want to see in healthcare through private practice, Christensen said.”
Behind all of Christensen’s continued success is a top notch education in his field at Carroll University. “The curriculum to become a doctor of physical therapy is quite varied and comprehensive, requiring advanced coursework in anatomy, physiology, orthopedics, neuroscience, general medicine, research statistics, biomechanics, kinesiology and exercise physiology. Most courses have significant lab components as well given PT is a very hands-on profession. Undergraduate prerequisites are primarily science based, requiring courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry and physics.”
“To be accepted to a PT program you need a bachelor’s degree with all pre-requisite coursework. Prerequisites typically include introductory and advanced anatomy & physiology, physics, chemistry, and statistics. A minimum 3.5 GPA in sciences is recommended, but again, that is a bare minimum. You can either do a typical 4-year degree or enter a 3+3 program that condenses your undergraduate degree into 3 years to expedite the process. I attend a 3+3 program which typically required 18 credit hours per semester with an additional 4-12 hours of lab per week during undergrad. Most programs also require several hundred hours of shadowing in different settings

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