'Be Flexible and Trust the Process'
Student of the Week: Nelda Pena
“My experience at South Texas College has been both rewarding and challenging. I have been blessed with an amazing cohort that feels like family. I was able to press through thanks to the continuous guidance from my instructors and lab assistants.”
Nelda Pena was looking for the best physical therapist assistant program she could find. It only made sense she chose South Texas College.
“The program outcomes spoke for itself with a graduation rate of 85.8% and licensure examination pass rate of 100%,” Pena said. “That’s what made STC the ideal place for me. Not to mention the classroom setting is set up just like a real physical therapy clinic to help students adapt quickly to the clinical environment.”
The South Texas College program is so successful, virtually every graduate secures a job as a physical therapist assistant within 12 months of passing the licensure exam, launching them into a career with an average annual wage in Texas of nearly $70,000.
Pena enrolled in the fall of 2018 and is planning to transfer to Texas A&M University Kingsville for a bachelor’s degree in the Pre-Physical Therapy.
“My experience at STC has been both rewarding and challenging,” Pena said. “I have been blessed with an amazing cohort that feels like family. There were several nights where we stayed late after school to practice our skills and a couple of STC physical therapy assistant alumni would drop in to give us words of encouragement. Moments like that were what helped me realize that no matter how demanding school was, it was possible to succeed.”
Physical Therapist Assistants, or PTAs, are licensed skilled health care providers who work under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist. PTAs assist the physical therapist to provide treatment programs to help restore or improve function, relieve pain, encourage independence, and educate patients and their families.
“My approach to college was ‘be flexible and trust the process,’” said Pena. “What kept me motivated was remembering my ‘why?’ I hung a small poster in the main classroom with pictures of my family and the reason why I chose to go into this program. When times got tough, I stood in front of that poster. I asked myself why I am doing this then remembered... I want to go out and make a difference. The world needs more compassionate and knowledgeable physical therapist assistants.”
Pena said she was able to secure ample hand-on training during her studies. “I have enjoyed providing treatment to neuro patients and the geriatrics community during my clinical rotations,” Pena said. “My goal is to stay here in the RGV and serve my community.”