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Georgia Southern Armstrong Campus grad turns a dream into reality

Georgia Southern University Honors Program student Mary Carpenter, who will graduate summa cum laude with a rehabilitation sciences degree in Savannah this weekend, has dreamed of becoming a physical therapist since she was a teenager.

After spending time on the Armstrong Campus as a dual enrollment student in high school, the University’s Waters College of Health Professions became her top pick to make that dream a reality.

“It was very important to me for the college that I was going to have an undergraduate degree dedicated to preparing undergraduate students for graduate school in a rehabilitation field,” said Carpenter. “I knew from speaking with students who are already in Armstrong’s physical therapy program, and also majored in rehabilitation sciences, that their undergrad classes were specifically designed to help them succeed as students in a doctor of physical therapy program.”

Once on campus, Carpenter quickly took on leadership roles with various student groups, including Rho Tau, a pre-physical therapy organization that provides volunteer opportunities for its members and invites community rehabilitation professionals to speak at their meetings.

“Rho Tau really helped me to solidify that I had indeed chosen the correct major,” she noted.

Also pivotal to her career path, she said, were her inductions to honors societies Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma and the University Honors Program, which requires students to conduct undergraduate research in order to earn a degree with high marks.

“Conducting my own research taught me a lot about myself both as an academic, and also about how to grow as a person,” said Carpenter. “I learned about conducting literature reviews, accurate record keeping, communicating and collaborating with other members in the lab, and how to present your own research at a discipline-specific conference. I know that all of these qualities will serve me well in both graduate school and, later on, as a practicing physical therapist.”

Carpenter completed her research in a neuroscience undergraduate lab and presented at honors conferences in Orlando, Florida, and Washington, D.C. She also proudly served as an Honors Program ambassador who guided incoming honors students through their first year of college.

Rounding out her undergraduate experience, Carpenter was the recipient of this year’s Gold “A” Award, a rare feat accomplished only by a student who earns a Silver “A” Award for both outstanding academic achievement and service. She also garnered the Bhatia Foundation Award for her dedication to the betterment of humankind and the promotion of friendship and goodwill for all cultures.

“I have really enjoyed my experience over the past four years,” reflected Carpenter.   

Later this month, Carpenter will begin the Armstrong Campus Class of 2021 doctor of physical therapy program. Upon completion, she looks forward to specializing in pediatrics or inpatient neurorehabilitation.

Georgia Southern University, a public Carnegie Doctoral/Research institution founded in 1906, offers 141 degree programs serving more than 27,000 students through nine colleges on three campuses in Statesboro, Savannah, Hinesville and online instruction. A leader in higher education in southeast Georgia, the University provides a diverse student population with expert faculty, world-class scholarship and hands-on learning opportunities. Georgia Southern creates lifelong learners who serve as responsible scholars, leaders and stewards in their communities. Visit GeorgiaSouthern.edu.

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