Becky Lawrence '08 DPT graduated almost 10 years ago, and yet, her former St. Ambrose professors continue to challenge her to become her best.
Case in point: last fall Lawrence was recognized with the inaugural Emerging Leader Alumni Award from the St. Ambrose College of Health and Human Services.
"I was completely honored. It shows St. Ambrose is a place that continues to support the development of its graduates. They are still invested in me, even though I haven't been a student there for almost a decade," Lawrence said.
"The award was also very humbling. To call someone an 'emerging leader' means I am not there yet. I still have a lot of work to do," she said.
Lawrence accepts the challenge.
She will graduate in May with a PhD in Rehabilitation Science from the University of Minnesota. She started the program in 2012 and her focus has been in musculoskeletal biomechanics.
In the past five years, Lawrence has completed six peer-reviewed publications, two book chapters, 32 platform and poster presentations in the local, national and international levels and received more than $200,000 in grants and funding. She also has one manuscript under review and three more underway.
And, Lawrence was recently awarded a post-doctoral fellowship as a research associate in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Ultimately, she would like to conduct research and be an academic instructor in physical therapy.
"Since her graduation from the DPT program in 2008 she has excelled in clinical practice, scholarship, teaching and professional involvement," professor Michael Puthoff PhD, wrote in Lawrence's nomination letter.
"I speak for the full Physical Therapy Department when I say she is worthy of receiving the inaugural Emerging Leader Alumni award. She has a bright career ahead of her and will be a wonderful representative of our program and college," he added.
Lawrence chose the DPT program at SAU because the faculty included board-certified specialists in almost every area of physical therapy. "You want to learn from the best. St. Ambrose had the most well-balanced faculty and they seemed like outstanding, salt-of-the-earth people," she said.
Following graduation, Lawrence completed SAU's Orthopaedic Physical Therapy Residency program, served as a clinical mentor and was a guest instructor for the DPT program. In 2010, she earned an Orthopaedic Clinical Specialization through the American Physical Therapy Association. She also spent two years in clinical practice before she started her PhD.
In 2014, Lawrence was asked to join the SAU College of Health and Human Services Advisory Board. She wasn't sure she was the most qualified person to sit at the table, but she did feel a strong call to serve, and continues to do so. "I think a big part of it is I wanted to pay it forward. I really feel I owe everything to SAU. I got a phenomenal education and I wouldn't be where I am now without Professor Kevin Farrell PhD," she said.
When Lawrence began looking into PhD programs, professor Farrell suggested she talk with his friend, one of the world leading experts in the mechanics of the shoulder, Paula Ludewig, PhD, at the University of Minnesota. Lawrence is thankful for his guidance and the mentoring she has received throughout her PhD.
Every year, while attending professional conference, Lawrence gets to see some of her former SAU professors, who are now her colleagues. They've followed her progress and continue to be interested and inquisitive about her work.
And yes, they continue to challenge her, too.
"The faculty remains so engaged in you, and that speaks to their commitment to us as individuals and to their profession, too," she said.
"Attending St. Ambrose was the best decision I ever made. And if the place I call 'home' thinks I am still 'emerging,' then I will make them proud."
The St. Ambrose College of Health and Human Services is accepting nominations for the 2018 Emerging Leader award. Click here to learn how to submit a nomination by June 1, 2018.