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Clarkson University Physical Therapy Students Organize Conclave

Three students in Clarkson University's Department of Physical Therapy teamed up with peers from SUNY Upstate Medical University to offer a successful Regional PT/PTA Student Conclave, this spring in Syracuse.

Kara Leonard, John LaRue and Megan Shaia.The conference included 14 speakers from different realms of physical therapy and rehab that included discussions on sports, orthopedics, geriatrics, pediatrics, neurology and military-related physical therapy. More than 140 students from 14 programs attended the gathering.

“This conclave by far attracted the most diversity from different programs,” said Stacey Zeigler, a clinical professor of physical therapy, who primarily teaches practice management and physical therapy for multi-systems disorders.

The students who organized the event -- Megan Shaia, Kara Leonard, and John LaRue -- are all finishing their second year in the three-year Doctor of Physical Therapy program that mixes hands-on clinical experience with classroom lessons.

“They did an excellent job coordinating the practical aspects of a big event like this,” Zeigler said. “They arranged for speakers, networking, advertising, registering, food, t-shirts, and more.”

LaRue of Liverpool, N.Y., said, “We decided last spring to go above and beyond and form a conference for students in New York state in conjunction with another university. We chose SUNY Upstate and worked with students Maritza Rodriguez, Emily Cotey, and Siobhan Pfaff. Our goal was to make the conference as widespread as possible in content to attract as many students as possible, along with clinicians and faculty.”

The event was an important opportunity to explore their field and to network, especially since Clarkson University is the only North Country site to offer a degree in physical therapy.

“It's important that we show some leadership and put Clarkson on the radar for those who may not know a lot about us,” LaRue added. “Dr. Zeigler is always pushing us to move ahead and take advantage of opportunities.”

Shaia of Glen Allen, Va., agrees that the Conclave required a lot of planning, but it was well worth it. Thanks to their organizational skills, they never missed a beat when two speakers were sick and she's happy that the speakers engaged the audience so well.

Leonard is from Heuvelton, N.Y. "The Conclave was fun to organize and I think we did a good job working together,” she said. The trio divvied up responsibilities and made sure to promote the event.

The DPT students will finish class at the end of June and then will head out for clinical experiences until late September. After that, they have a little more classroom time and two more full-time clinical rotations before they graduate in 2018.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Three students in Clarkson University's Department of Physical Therapy teamed up with peers from SUNY Upstate Medical University to offer a successful Regional PT/PTA Student Conclave in Syracuse. Left to right: Kara Leonard, John LaRue and Megan Shaia.

[A photograph for media use is available]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations, at 315-268-4483 or]

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