University Park, IL,
23:05 PM

GSU doctoral candidate's persistence pays off

Graduate Profile: Kiya Raines

Kiya Raines

Governors State University (GSU) doctoral candidate Kiya Raines worked diligently to get into the doctoral physical therapy (PT) program after seeing GSU graduates’ passing scores on the national PT exam. Now as she prepares to get her doctorate, Kiya said she made the best decision in choosing GSU. 

“It took me three years to get in but I made it. The professors are very invested in helping you succeed. Anytime I needed a mini study session, they were available.”

It was her grandmother who led her to pursue a career in PT about 10 years ago after she suffered a stroke. Kiya frequently assisted her grandmother with PT exercises as part of her care.

“I didn’t know how much physical therapy helped. It had an amazing impact. I discovered that I really enjoyed helping people,’’ said Kiya, who proudly reports her grandmother is doing great now.

After high school, Kiya earned her associate degree at Prairie State College, and then a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from the University of Illinois in Champaign. Wanting to be closer to home, Kiya researched GSU and liked what she saw in graduation rates and test scores for the Department of PT.

She was disappointed when her application was denied, but decided to continue with pre-requisite courses, volunteer work, and physical therapy observation hours, and apply again. And again, she was denied. That’s when she reached out to David Diers, Department Chair of Physical Therapy.

“I attended open houses, emailed Dr. Diers and asked for tips on how to improve my application. And he told me the areas I was lacking in, and I just worked on everything he said and then applied again.”

Finally, GSU accepted her – along with three other schools. 

On campus, Kiya served as secretary of the Physical Therapy Student Association (PTSA) board and did community outreach with Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) junior high students.

Now she is pursuing a practice focused on pelvic health and geriatric health – the pelvic floor PT in particular. These muscles are located between the tailbone and the pubic bone and support the bowel and bladder. In women, they also support the uterus and vagina. 

Kiya said she’s fascinated with this new specialty of physical therapy.

“Pelvic floor physical therapy isn't something that is well known. So many women could benefit from it, pregnancy to incontinence. With men, working with the PT helps those who have a history of prostate dysfunction, making it hard to urinate.”

After graduation, Kiya plans to practice locally and continue to inspire black and brown communities to pursue a career in PT.

“I chose GSU because it is one of the more diverse PT programs, and that was important to me. Now, I want to see more people who look like me become a part of this program.”