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Graduate Profile: The Value of the GSU Community

Ultimately, your experience at GSU is what YOU make it, whether you are a non-degree seeking, undergraduate, master's, or doctoral student: take advantage of resources, get involved, find your 'people,' be resilient, and lean on your support system!

As a 2020 graduate of Governors State University's intensive Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, Tyler Dunn recognizes the importance of the GSU community in completing her degree. From her professors, to her cohort, to the clinical experiences with agencies in the area, Dunn views the relationships she made on and off campus as some of the most valuable experiences.

"Ultimately, your experience at GSU is what YOU make it, whether you are a non-degree seeking, undergraduate, master's, or doctoral student: take advantage of resources, get involved, find your 'people,' be resilient, and lean on your support system!"

GSU Newsroom: What brought you to GSU?

Dunn: I was drawn to Governors State University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program because of the positive reputation it has within the physical therapy community. One of the most attractive attributes of the program is that it is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The program also consistently produces graduates that pass the licensure examination at a high percentage rate. In addition to the great qualities stated above, GSU was a short commute from home and offered lower tuition when compared to other physical therapy programs in the state of Illinois. After taking a tour of the school and meeting the instructors and students on my interview day in December of 2016, I knew this was the school for me!

GSU Newsroom: What are some of the highlights from your time at GSU?

Dunn: While learning within the classroom is very important to gain the base knowledge to become a competent physical therapist, the experiences outside of the classroom are what helped me understand and uphold the core values of the physical therapy profession (accountability, altruism, collaboration, compassion and caring, duty, excellence, integrity, and social responsibility). Over the past three years I have been fortunate to volunteer at GSU’s open house, DPT program interviews, “Run, Walk or Roll for Rehab” 5k to benefit the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, Scoliosis Screening at St. Benedicts School and Respite Nights at Milestone Physical Therapy. Another highlight from my time at GSU was participating in five clinical experiences in various physical therapy settings where I was able to learn from my clinical instructors and gain hands-on skills with real patients. Lastly, completing an intense program such as this with a cohort of like-minded individuals helped me realize that I was not alone through my accomplishments and struggles. The friendships I have formed with my classmates has made my time at GSU fun and memorable.

GSU Newsroom: Who were some of the professors who shaped your experience and your future?

Dunn: I believe all the instructors, guest lecturers, and directors of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Department at Governors State University have done a wonderful job preparing me to be a confident and proficient entry level physical therapist. Specifically, I would like to thank Dr. Truvae White for her support during and after one of the most intimidating classes I took as a new physical therapy student, Anatomy Lab. Thank you to Dr. Robin Washington for showing me how to truly care for the person behind the diagnosis. Thank you to Dr. David Diers and Dr. Dale Schuit (The “dynamic duo”) for being instructors who always made the classroom a fun learning environment, and for always having their doors open to help me work through difficult subject matter. Thank you to Dr. Scott Getsoian for your assistance with the completion of my capstone project. Thank you to Dr. Roberta O’Shea for helping me find my passion to work with the pediatric population. Thank you to Dr. Maryleen Jones for being a great example of how far a tenacious spirit and compassion for others can take you. Finally, thank you to Dr. Amy Bala for working tirelessly around the clock to not only teach in the classroom, but also ensure each student in the program landed amazing clinical experiences that helped enrich our learning.

Thank you all!

GSU Newsroom: What's next after graduation?

Dunn: After graduation, I will be studying to take the National Physical Therapy Examination (NPTE), which is an examination that every graduate of a physical therapy education program must pass to become a licensed physical therapist. After receiving my license, I will begin applying for employment in the state of Illinois.

Through classroom instruction/clinical experiences, I have found my passion to serve within the pediatric population. My professional goal is to become a school-based physical therapist, as well as an early intervention provider. I am excited for the next step in my career and I hope to positively impact many lives through my service.

GSU Newsroom: What advice would you give GSU students? 

Dunn: Ultimately, your experience at GSU is what YOU make it, whether you are a non-degree seeking, undergraduate, masters, or doctoral student. For the sake of brevity, I have listed my top 5 pieces of advice:

1. Take advantage of resources!

I would encourage students to take advantage of the resources GSU offers to help students become successful, such as the library, health center, writing center, graduate professional network, and various events/workshops/conferences held at the university.

2. Get involved!

Join an organization on campus that interest you and also aligns with your views/beliefs. Find opportunities to volunteer both on and off campus. You need to take a break from the books periodically for your mental health, so make that time worth it.

3. Find your “people”!

Find people in your classes or program that you can study with AND have fun on the weekend with. It helps to have people in your circle that you can share ideas/experiences with and can hold you accountable.

4. Be resilient!

It is inevitable that you will feel discouraged at some point throughout your academic career. Try not to let that one bad quiz or test grade get your spirits down. Talk to your instructors about how you can be successful in the future or try a different study environment/strategy. But most of all, DON’T GIVE UP!

5. Lean on your support system!

Let the people in your life that want to help you, help you. Your family and friends will be there to see the highs and lows of your academic career, and best of all, they will love you no matter what!


Apply for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program today! Or join us on June 3 for virtual Coffee with a Counselor to discuss admissions, programs, and more.