StudentFacultyAlumni

Chelsea Ngo

DPT, Class of 2017

Why did you choose your WesternU program? In my opinion, it was the best Physical Therapy program in the Southern California region, which is saying a lot considering there are a number of competitive schools in this area. The reason for my decision was a combination between the years of clinical expertise of the faculty, consistency of relationships with clinical sites for internships, and the opportunity to develop my foundation as a new professional in this richly diverse community.



Jaleesa Follens-Jones

DPT, Class of 2017

Who at WesternU has made you feel supported and how? I feel supported by the faculty and staff in the DPTE. I am surrounded by faculty members that go above and beyond for their students. Many faculty members will stay after hours to answer questions and assist with practical examination preparation, answer late night emails, hold extra study sessions, among other things. I also feel very supported by the Dean of the College of Allied Health, Dr. Bowlin, in that she has established the feeling of family and community within the College since the beginning of my time at WesternU. She has addressed matters that were of concern to students quickly and personally, which I greatly appreciate.



Kayla Sakamoto

DPT, Class of 2017

How has your involvement in co-curricular activities (e.g. clubs or student government association) impacted you and/or the community you serve? I am currently involved in PTAC (Physical Therapy Advocacy Club). This club is the only PT specific club on campus. It has helped me to learn to be a leader and improve my communication skills. It also provides a lot of volunteer opportunities that are PT related. As a member of this club I have been able to serve the community through free health screenings, sports clearances, and assisting in events like the Special Olympics. This gives me the opportunity to give back to the community and it also allows me to practice the skills I have learned in school.



Marcus Pedroza

DPT, Class of 2018

Who at WesternU has made you feel supported and how? All of the faculty at WesternU is truly there to support you through this difficult program. Professors will sacrifice their weekends to help you work through difficult concepts. The department staff is available at all times to answer any questions you may have and last but not least your cohort is there to support you through the entire process.

What would you tell a prospective student about WesternU? One important point for all prospective students to know is that everyone here wants you to succeed. One day you may end up practicing alongside your professors. They go above and beyond to make sure you become a successful clinician.



Calli Jackson

DPT, Class of 2017

Why did you choose your WesternU program? I chose the WesternU program because immediately, as soon as I set foot on campus, I felt that I was interacting with people who took in an interest in me as an individual and as a clinician. WesternU has continued to build a community in which our health professionals are compassionate, highly educated, and make it a priority to value the patient first. I have been nothing but satisfied with all of the faculty and staff, and the continuous efforts to expose students to the most up and coming research and technology in order to provide the best education possible.



Nduka Unaka

DPT, Class of 2017

How has your involvement in co-curricular activities (e.g. clubs or student government association) impacted you and/or the community you serve? Working as Vice President for the American Geriatric Society has been awesome. The geriatric patient population needs health care professionals on the front line to help them with a lot of health care conditions. I believe a true servant of the people goes where he or she is needed as opposed to where they prefer. Trying to inspire people to meet this void has been a calling for me.



Nicholas O’Neil

DPT, Class of 2018

Why did you choose your WesternU program? I chose Western University of Health Sciences and the Doctor of Physical Therapy program for many reasons. First, I have a family history of attending WesternU and it’s Doctor of Osteopathic medicine program. I will be a 2nd generation graduate, first with a doctorate in Physical Therapy, and maybe a bit bias. Yet when volunteering in the clinic I always kept an eye out for alumni and often noticed they were different clinicians than the rest. The PT’s who went to WesternU were intelligent and well-rounded, exemplifying unprecedented compassion and humanism. They demonstrated the qualities and upheld the values I believe are of utmost importance. But, what solidified my decision, were my interactions with faculty, staff, and students. Whether it was at one of many Preview Days on campus, or a simple email I exchanged with Admissions. They displayed empathy and respect. They were a family here, and I wanted to be a part of it.

Mary Hudson-McKinney, PT, MS, DPT, NCS

Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy Education

Research interests: I am a board-certified neurologic clinical specialist in the PT program. I plan on looking at evaluating the reliability of a balance-assessment tool in community-dwelling elderly individuals. In the future, I plan on evaluating this tool for individuals with Parkinson's disease to determine their risk of falling. Lastly, I plan on completing a study that looks at the use of this tool by physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and physician assistants.

Beyond the classroom: I have attended “club day” and was able to meet and speak with a variety of students that actively participate in a variety of organizations. I also have attended various lunches and fund raisers student groups have offered. In my program, I have supported our PT students and acted as a faculty advisor when students presented at a local Parkinson's Support group on balance training and fall/risk prevention. I hope to do more of these types of things in the future.

I think WesternU is an outstanding University. Our graduates routinely score very high on the state boards and work in varied areas of practice.

Read more about me…


Dayle Armstrong, DPT, MS, PT

Chair/Associate Professor

How do you think the interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum will enhance student’s professional lives? The IPE curriculum is a valuable part of the student’s education here at WesternU. Students get the experience of interacting and problem solving cases with students in other health care professions. It is a great mechanism to learn collaborative patient care.

Have you taken advantage of the research opportunities offered at WesternU? Please describe your research and it’s importance. My area of specialization is Pediatric Physical Therapy and Prosthetic/Orthotics. I have done research on a standardized pediatric assessment tool and how it measures function in children with sensory and physical disability. I am currently a co-investigator on a research project on sensory processing, gait characteristics, balance and visual skills in children with Sensory Processing Disorder. I am a faculty mentor for a group of students researching agility in patients with using a prosthesis. I love research and these are just a few examples.

I think WesternU is an outstanding University. Our graduates routinely score very high on the state boards and work in varied areas of practice.

Read more about me…


Casey Chaney, PT, PhD. OCS, CSCS

Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy Education

Research Topics: I have participated in research on low back pain in students, the effect of inhibitory taping in normal subjects, the immediate effect of inhibitory taping to the upper trapezius muscle in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome and I am currently working on the long term training effects of exercise with inhibitory taping on patients with shoulder impingement syndrome over an 8-week intervention program.

WesternU Distinctive: A unique aspect of our program is the fact that we have faculty teaching in the areas of their expertise. Many programs assign faculty to teach in areas that may not be their strengths. I think that the ratio of instructors to students in our labs, by using some adjunct clinical instructors, is especially valuable for manual evaluation and treatment skills.

Beyond the Classroom: I have been involved in long distance running for decades and coached adults from novice to Olympic trial caliber. My son, granddaughter and two dogs provide balance in my life.

Best Advice: Maintain some balance in your life.

Read more about me…


Ginny Dunn, PT, DPT, MSHCA

Adjunct Faculty, Department of Physical Therapy

WesternU distinctive: I have been given great autonomy in teaching the DPT program. I am a clinician and a manager so I feel I have a lot to offer to WesternU. I participated in the transitional DPT program as a student and that allowed me to look at the program from a student perspective, which in turn helps me to adapt my teaching.

Best thing about WesternU: One on one, personal approach with excellence and learning in mind.

About thing about the program: Excellent curriculum and instructors that support the concept of the DPT whether you are a new graduate or transitional PT obtaining your DPT. There’s also online and onsite education that supports the forward-thinking goals of the profession.

Sara Wiese

DPT, Class of 2014

Wiese_ SaraWhy did you choose WesternU: When I first visited WesternU, I had the opportunity of meeting a few of the faculty members and they really pulled me into the program. Everyone was so warm and welcoming and I could truly tell how invested they were in the students upon meeting them. I was also very interested in seeing what the IPE program was all about. I felt very privileged to be amongst one of the few schools across the country that had the opportunity of being in this program.


Omid Kajbaf

DPT, Class of 2013

How has your involvement in student clubs impacted you and/or the community you serve? My involvement in student clubs gives me an avenue to become more involved in the community through organized marathons and fundraiser events that support both local and international communities.

Who at WesternU has made you feel supported and how? WesternU is a very tightly-knit community that gives the student a sense of family. During my educational career at WesternU I have had the support from President Pumerantz, the DPT faculty and staff, and my fellow classmates in my involvement with a non-profit organization dedicated to providing mobility to underserved regions around the world by means of wheelchairs.

Describe an engaging aspect of your program and why you like it. The DPT program at WesternU does an outstanding job engaging the students with a hands-on approach. I feel the use of standardized patients and professors acting as patients during practicals really prepare the students for their clinical affiliations. Practical examinations are used as an educational tool to give the students simulation of “real life” patient encounters as a physical therapist.


Sara Guiffrida

DPT, Class of 2013

Describe your best clinical experience and why it was memorable. My best clinical experience so far has been down in San Diego for a two week rotation in an outpatient ortho clinic. My clinical instructor that I worked with was not only informative and a fantastic teacher, but was also fun and easy going. I was amazed at how much I remembered just from the first year and how much I was able to apply in a clinical setting. It was such a good first clinical and I am excited for the longer ones coming up in a year!

What would you tell a prospective student about WesternU? WesternU provides patient based, and humanistic education in order to provide the best care to our future patients. WesternU has not only helped me gain knowledge how of to be a PT but also how to be a more compassionate and caring individual. The DPT department at WesternU has amazing staff and my experience thus far has been incredible.


Terri Jemison

DPT, Class of 2013

Describe your best clinical experience and why it was memorable. My best clinical experience was my first 12-week affiliation in an out-patient orthopedic clinic. My clinical instructor provided me with constant feedback on my performance and documentation. We had discussions about my strengths and weaknesses, ways to improve my skills, and strategies for managing my cases. The clinic functioned on a fast-paced schedule, so I feel prepared for whatever time contraints I may be faced with in the future.

Who at WesternU has made you feel supported and how? The faculty make themselves available to you when you need it. They provide their cell phone numbers so that you can call them when working on a project or studying for an exam. They notice when you are feeling down or upset, and take you into their office to provide an open ear. A former professor was fond of meditation, and she could turn her office into a peaceful and quiet space for reflection.

How have you seen the university’s humanistic philosophy lived out by members of the WesternU family? My class has become very involved in fundraising for the Free Wheelchair Mission and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. We have bake sales, participate in the races, and volunteer for their events. A few of my classmates have become advocates for these groups, and they want to show the world how amazing these people are and what we can do for them.