Thanks to an educational experience she describes as phenomenal, Kara Richardson, a senior Exercise Science major at Southern Arkansas University, looks forward to advancing her knowledge in the physical therapy program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS).
To enhance her educational and career goals, Richardson is interning at the Ouachita Rehabilitation Center in Mena, Arkansas. In observing outpatient and inpatient settings and learning about different patient populations and treatment techniques, she feels qualified for an exciting future in her chosen field.
After completing her undergraduate degree at SAU in May, Richardson will pursue the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at the UAMS Northwest Campus. “I want to work in an outpatient clinic helping people improve their daily living. Physical therapy includes a variety of practice fields, and I’m keeping an open mind as to my options,” she shared. Richardson will begin the program in August.
The native of Grannis, Arkansas, was shaped by life in a small town and has been blessed with a strong work ethic. “I always knew I wanted to attend SAU because my parents are alums. I visited other universities, but none had the feeling of home that SAU has!” Richardson said.
A 2016 graduate of Cossatot River High School, she chose Exercise Science as her major “because it would provide me with an opportunity to study human movement, which involves the components of biological, physical and health sciences.”
She called Exercise Science a versatile degree that is preparing her well for a future as a physical therapist. “I have loved every aspect of Exercise Science because it is such a fascinating field that improves fitness, athletic performance and quality of life.”
SAU has contributed greatly to her career path. “The Health, Kinesiology and Recreation (HKR) Department has been amazing. It has given me a wealth of knowledge I can use in my career. During my sophomore year, Steven Dingman became my academic adviser, and he has supported me and helped me to make many important academic decisions.”
She said SAU’s faculty and staff are dedicated to helping students. “That’s one of my favorite things about SAU. They are always willing to help prepare students for their future careers.”
Her professors have always been willing to meet with her one-on-one to provide assistance. “Everyone at SAU is so caring and always makes you feel like part of the family,” Richardson said.
“SAU has been such a huge blessing to me in so many ways, such as being a second home and giving me the opportunity to build close relationships with all my professors,” she explained. “I will forever be grateful to SAU.”
In her internship she is learning every aspect of physical therapy, “such as taking patients through exercise programs, assisting in creating programs, and learning the billing process,” she said. Skills she learned in her Instrumentation Lab at SAU have already proven useful in a clinical setting.
Her parents, Carlton Richardson (96) and Shelly Richardson (95, 14) are also SAU alumni and inspired Richardson to become a Mulerider. Her brother, Kolt, is a freshman at SAU. “He is experiencing the same love and support,” Kara said. “It has been such an honor to attend my parents’ alma mater and I cannot wait to see what SAU has in store for my brother.”
To learn more about SAU’s HKR Department, please visit https://web.saumag.edu/hkr/.