The day after Kevyn Funk PTA’21 — a St. Catherine University physical therapist assistant (PTA) program recent graduate— received her diploma from St. Kate’s, she got a phone call from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). She had been chosen from hundreds of nominees for APTA’s Mary McMillan Student Scholarship, the intent of which is to recognize those students who exhibit superior scholastic ability and potential for future professional contribution. “It is such an honor even to be considered for this award — and to win it feels out of this world! I am at a loss for words to be recognized as a person with this potential, but I am honored to be thought of as someone who will work hard and attempt to contribute to such a task,” says Funk.
PTA program director and professor Holly Clynch, PT, DPT, MA, says,"Kevyn took advantage of every opportunity to get involved and develop her leadership skills within our professional association (APTA), volunteering for multiple student leadership positions at the national level and within our Minnesota chapter. She's an outstanding student, both in terms of academic performance and level of engagement within the University and with her classmates. Her work as a peer tutor was instrumental to the success of many of this year's PTA students. We are lucky to have had her in our program."
Eleven St. Catherine University physical therapy and physical therapist assistant students have received the prestigious Mary MacMillan Student Scholarship — named for the pioneer of modern physical therapy and founding president of the APTA. Funk is looking forward to receiving her scholarship at an in-person award ceremony during the APTA Centennial Celebration in Washington, D.C. this September.
Funk’s St. Kate’s Journey
Funk decided to get her PTA degree from St. Kate’s after attending an information session offered by the University. “From the moment I walked on campus, I felt welcome, and I received such wonderful information about the program,” she recalls. Funk was also impressed that the program director attended the sessions and spoke with the students herself. “I got the impression from the session that St. Kate's treated students in a special way with more guidance and help than I had experienced at other universities,” says Funk.
Once Funk started the St. Kate’s PTA program, she found out her impression from the info session was right. “St. Kate's was a very different college experience than I was used to. All of the professors in the PTA program have gone well beyond what I would expect from a college professor. Each one of them has supported me and helped me grow as a professional and as a person,” she says. Funk expressed individual appreciation for Holly Clynch and director of PTA clinical education and assistant professor Jessica Scholl, PT, MA. “Holly encouraged me to be a more active member of the physical therapy community, and Jessica was such an inspiring role model for me throughout the program,” she says.
Beyond the supportive faculty and staff, Funk found that St. Kate’s educates its students to be successful healthcare leaders. As one of the first of its kind in the nation, St. Kate’s PTA program paved the way with innovative, multi-faceted curriculum. “The program focused on more than just the technical skills needed to be a PTA. It included leadership and liberal arts classes to provide a more well-rounded education,” Funk says. “St. Kate's has encouraged me to learn more about myself and the world at large. I was surprised to find out that this school would inspire so much growth within myself.”
Funk is currently deciding her next move and where she would like to begin her PTA career. “I really enjoyed both of my clinical experiences with inpatient acute care and outpatient rehabilitation, so I have been focusing my job search on those fields.” She also plans on staying involved with the APTA and St. Kate’s Alumni Association.
“St. Kate's has provided me with priceless leadership skills and knowledge about my community that will prepare me to navigate a complex medical system with diverse patient populations,” she says. “The last two years have taught me to have more grace and understanding of the complexities of this world. I am so excited to continue learning and growing within my life and my career with the tools St. Kate's has provided me.”