11:44 AM

Connecting fitness and physical therapy

Student of the Week: Aly Saenz

“There is no timeline for anything; everyone has their own pace. Our accomplishments should not be determined by another's accomplishments or timeline. Everyone has their own journey.”

STC Student of the Week Aly Saenz

South Texas College student Aly Saenz, 21, has seen her own health improve through regular physical activity, and hopes to build a career by sharing what she’s learned with others.

Saenz, of Weslaco, attends the STC Nursing and Allied Health campus and is preparing to apply for the Physical Therapist Assistant program.

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.

Saenz said she originally aspired to become an emergency medical technician or firefighter. But, after she experienced a spinal injury a few years ago, she was advised to reconsider. Saenz was beginning to think about the PTA program at STC when a personal experience made her see what she could accomplish as a health care professional.

“My grandpa had to have his leg amputated because he was diabetic,” Saenz said. “Seeing the physical therapist assist him the way that he did really inspired me. I was definitely convinced afterwards that this is the major I wanted to pursue.”

Saenz said she made her own well-being a priority after she received a concerning diagnosis. She was told she was prediabetic at 19 years old and wanted to find a way to bring the condition under control.

That’s when Saenz turned to CrossFit, a branded fitness regimen that involves constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity.

“I just knew my health was declining and I was very young,” Saenz said. “I went to a gym and got into CrossFit because my family members were getting very concerned. I think it's concerning when other people are concerned for you.”

Saenz trains at Lithium Strength, LLC gym in Weslaco and has started entering CrossFit competitions as a way to push herself and her skills. She has since earned two second place and one first place awards.

“I did it for my health, just to stay healthy,” Saenz said. “It was never for aesthetic or to look better. It was to be better.”

Saenz has a dream of using her future physical therapy education to help the South Texas fitness community grow. Particularly within a lesser known population.