Ikea Clark, DPT24

"Upon graduating, my goal is to work as a U.S. military physical therapist. I plan to work alongside combat injured and active duty soldiers to optimize their health and quality of life post-traumatic injury."
Headshot image of Ikea

Our students are on the path to achieving greatness. At Tufts, students receive the support necessary to help them get there. Ikea Clark, DPT24, shared with us her experience in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Phoenix program and her goals for the future.

Why did you choose to pursue this degree?
"I choose to pursue a degree in physical therapy to aid combat-injured service members after being able to witness physical therapists help my father, an Army veteran and his team recover back to health after a deployment to Afghanistan that didn't go as planned. I was amazed and humbled by the art of physical therapy and intrigued how the human body can learn to compensate and regenerate. I knew I had a strong interest in understanding the why and how and wanted to align my career goals in life with those of the physical therapist who helped my father gain back so much and recover back to his normal life and his team. This was my way of giving back to the physical therapists and soldiers who have helped shape my life."

Why did you choose Tufts?
"When I relocated to the West this past year, I first heard about the prestigious reputation of Tufts through clients I trained. When researching schools to apply to I remembered the wonderful remarks made by proud Tufts alumni and decided to do some research. I was pleasantly surprised how well I resonated with Tufts' mission statement and knew it aligned with the environment I wanted to cohabit and be educated within. They go above and beyond to encourage, aid, and foster the values I strongly stand for. The dynamic research being done by faculty help to drive education; the inclusivity, networking, and the innovation on learning are what drove me to apply, and I'm thankful to report I made the right decision."

What has your experience it the DPT-Phoenix program been like so far?
"My experience in this program has been amazing and humbling. I have had the chance to be immersed in a program that could be seen as daunting due to the format—but through proper education, a supportive community, and unlimited resources is achievable. Being apart of the first cohort for the Phoenix program has been so rewarding and a once in a lifetime opportunity. The campus is spacious and fully equipped with a breathtaking views. I look forward to logging into interactive lectures from the comfort of my home, but I also love participating in the onsite immersions. Coming to the beautiful campus and getting to learn and practice skills on state-of-the-art equipment and with highly educated professors, who find joy in helping us become outstanding physical therapists, is a one-of-kind feeling. This may be the first cohort in Phoenix, but Tufts has worked hard to provide students with the best experience within a curriculum that provides education that is geared toward every type of learner."

What is your favorite aspect about the program?
"My favorite aspect about the program is the seamlessness learning style transitions between the online learning and in-person clinical skills labs. I was happy to discover how well these two forms of learning gelled. As well as, the amount of knowledge that is obtained due to the unique learning format. I'm in awe how when working alongside my classmates and faculty how much information I really do obtain. I also love the constant reminder of unity. The support is unmatched, and it makes every aspect of this program truly special."

What is your proudest personal accomplishment while at Tufts?
"My proudest accomplishment while at Tufts so far would be accomplishing my first semester of the DPT-Phoenix program. Getting into this DPT program has been a dream come true. Once I was accepted, I was challenged during the first semester and had a brief moment where I felt imposter syndrome. What I mean is, due to the lapse in time since obtaining my undergraduate degree, I felt for a brief second overwhelmed and as if I did not belong within my cohort. I am thankful for my one-on-one coaching sessions throughout my first semester with Doctor Wilkinson because in those sessions she reminded me that I do belong here, and I do have what it takes to succeed within myself and around me. She helped to inspire me to never give up and to never think little of myself. Succeeding through that first semester solidified I was in the right place and doing what is destined for me. Whenever I feel weak or unsure, I look at all that I accomplished in my first semester at Tufts and look forward to the future because I know here at Tufts, I truly can accomplish anything I set my mind to."

What do you wish to accomplish upon graduation?
"Upon graduating, my goal is to work as a U.S. military physical therapist. I plan to work alongside combat injured and active duty soldiers to optimize their health and quality of life post-traumatic injury. I also want to find a way to bring more awareness to the under representation of black physical therapists in the field. One unique thing I have enjoyed and learned a lot from at Tufts, are the presentations of dialogue from minorities. These Zoom sessions helped to highlight the importance of not forgetting to share minorities' voices and stories because it truly does matter. I strongly believe it helps to further educate and narrow the huge gap of non-inclusivity in our society. Upon graduation, I'd like to build a platform to use my voice to share my story and others' as a way to collaborate within communities to spread knowledge of this amazing field in hopes to generate more interest in the black community. My ultimate goal is to open more doors for not just minorities but anyone wanting to pursue this unique and rewarding career path."

What do you want a prospective student to know about Tufts?
"I want them to know that they belong here. Tufts has a spectacular reputation and a home for you. Don't let the fear of the unknown hold you back from asking the questions you need to understand why Tufts DPT-Phoenix program CAN work inside your 'normal' routine of life. Also, as long as you have a dream, the drive to succeed, and the willingness to reach out for help you WILL be supported here at Tufts. You are provided with the means of help in the form of one-on-one coaching sessions with faculty, student based tutoring, and a plethora of learning resources provided to you at the click of a link. Look no further—you have found a university that truly wants to see you excel."

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