Student Spotlight: Seth Abdallah, SPHP Program
Seth Abdallah is a student enrolled in the prerequisite courses at UNE Online. He is currently in graduate school to earn his Master of Public Health, and is taking SPHP courses at UNE Online in order to enter a Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Here, he discusses his motivation to get his DPT, his passion for neurology, and the flexibility of online coursework.
Can you tell us about yourself?
I live in Maui, Hawaii, and I’m currently enrolled at the University of Nebraska, pursuing my master’s degree in public health. Over the last year, partially because of the work I do at the YMCA, I started to feel strongly about going back and getting a doctorate in physical therapy so I could start seeing patients.
I found that UNE Online had the prerequisite courses that I needed, and I’d read good things on different forums. Students seem to feel that the content at UNE is awesome, and they started understanding concepts. So that sounded perfect for me. My local college wasn’t offering what I needed this summer, and I really needed to get these pre-reqs in, so I enrolled in chemistry and had a great experience.
The labs at home are straightforward and easy to do. They do need a certain amount of setup some time to do them, but that ended up pairing well with the concepts.
What courses have you taken with UNE?
I took Biology I, General Chemistry I Lecture and Lab, and now I’m taking Physics I.
What type of patient population will you work with once you earn your DPT?
I’m passionate about neurology and neurological conditions that have to do with myelination, like ALS. I’ve also done a lot of work with Parkinson’s, which is not really a myelination disorder, but I enjoy helping that group of people.
I’m the senior fitness director at the YMCA, and I started a program to work with Parkinson’s patients so they have a place to get good exercises and receive support to work on the hallmark symptoms like muscle stiffness, muscle rigidity, trouble walking, trouble with movements, and so on. Our program has clients doing balance exercises and strengthening to keep them autonomous as long as possible.
The Parkinson’s program was one thing that inspired me to go back to school to get my DPT and try physical therapy school again.
How did you feel about the flexibility of the courses? Were you able to do them at a pace that was comfortable to you?
The pace was awesome. I finished chemistry in about seven weeks, which is less than half the time allotted. I was driven because I was trying to get my DPT applications in by July and I was trying to get an early decision for Hanover College. I wanted to know my plan for next year and make sure I got in as early as possible.
I had taken chemistry during my undergraduate time eight years earlier, and I didn’t do so well. But this time through I was able to get right through it and do it at my own pace. The classes at UNE Online have really worked out for me.
It did take a lot of work and planning, especially the labs, but it’s doable if you’re focused and disciplined and you have an idea of what you want. You can go at your own pace and knock the class out quickly, or spread the lessons out week by week.
How is your work-life balance?
The last six months have been really busy for me. I worked full time, 40 hours a week, and I did 24 credits, 12 of which were for my master’s degree. It was a huge amount of work. I was able to multitask by listening to a lot of lectures while working out. But I had the motivation to do it, and I earned straight A’s.
I really wanted to get into physical therapy school, and I wanted the admissions committee to see that I was focused on my goal. I’m a different person now, than when I earned my undergrad – and I wanted to prove that.
If you could give other prerequisite students a piece of advice, what would that be?
My best advice is to focus on putting your best work forward, wherever you are right now. I feel that my biggest pitfall was during my undergrad. I had no aspirations to do a master’s degree, no aspirations to do a DPT, andI spent a lot of time hanging out with my friends and playing music. Those are great hobbies, but they didn’t get me closer to my current goal.
My best advice is – don’t limit your future opportunities. Do the very best that you can, right now. You don’t want to be mad at your past self for not doing what you were capable of.
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