P.T. Alumni Compete to Help Future Classes

Physical therapy students practice their skills.

The idea for the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) physical therapy (P.T.) competition began with a question, said Josh D’Angelo, D.P.T. ’13: “How can we get more people involved in the GW P.T. alumni network?”

“GW has so many extraordinary graduates, and the alumni community is just beginning to grow,” D’Angelo said. “The [annual P.T. Alumni Scholarship Competition] seemed to be a great way to generate some excitement within the alumni community, support the faculty and students, and build more positive touch points between graduates, the faculty, and each class.”

The competition, designed to garner involvement more than dollars, declares the class with the highest number of members providing donations – not the greatest amount raised – as the winner. As Dave Smith, D.P.T. ’16, also noted, the contest also appeals to competitiveness, a quality P.T. students and professionals alike share.

“It’s always a good idea to get our juices flowing,” he said. “Everyone wants to be first place, so that made it fun.”

Smith’s class took first place this year, with more than 60 percent of 2016 graduates participating in the competition. “This is after they had a 100 percent participation for their class gift; in May 2016, each student gave $30 to buy a white coat for a member of the incoming P.T. class,” said Sarah Klein, associate director of alumni relations at SMHS. “Even though they had just given and are new to the workforce, they were able to come together to have a tangible impact on the lives of P.T. students.”

It’s having that kind of impact that has most inspired P.T. alumni. “Helping out a current student feels amazing,” said Leanna Blanchard, D.P.T. ’15. “To know that any little bit I can help with might take some burden off of a stressed out student is worthwhile to me. GW provided me with such an amazing experience and education and has opened so many doors for me as an alumna. I wouldn't want anyone to feel they had to turn down that opportunity because of financial concerns.”

The competing classes – 2012 through 2016 – plan to continue to face off for bragging rights and the satisfaction of “paying it forward,” as Megan Scovil, D.P.T. ’15, phrased it. “I think it is important for alumni to … help support our future colleagues,” she said. “It's also a good way to get into the habit of giving.”

For Cody Meashaw, D.P.T. ’16, he and Smith have an eye on maintaining their win. “We now have a title to defend,” he said.

For more information on how to support the GW P.T. program, please visit https://smhs.gwu.edu/physical-therapy/support