Doctor of Physical Therapy student Lily Rubio discovered her passion for community service through the DPT program at UCF, which encourages students to perform volunteer hours to expand their learning experience. Her involvement in community initiatives has shaped her understanding of healthcare and solidified her commitment to serving diverse populations in need.
“It’s been great to learn how to work one-on-one with different populations,” shares Rubio. “[The experience has] also taught me how to deliver the best care, no matter the [patient’s] diagnosis.”
Rubio shares her journey on the latest episode of Knight Life @UCFCHPS, a video series that provides insight into students’ experiences within the College of Health Professions and Sciences. Through internships, research, study abroad, specialized courses and student organizations, the series showcases the high impact practices shaping student success.
Rubio and her fellow doctoral students have this year lent their time and talents to a wide variety of community programs, from collaborating with the Army ROTC and Air Force ROTC to provide care for student cadets, to organizing food drives to help fight food insecurity on campus, to working with Mighty Knights, which creates inclusive play environments for children with communication and motor disorders. UCF PT students also provide pro bono care at the Apopka Farmworkers Clinic.
Community outreach has played an integral role in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program since its inception, and every student actively participates in service activities. Students participate in more than 50 community service events each year, joining with faculty to collectively provide an estimated 250 hours of service annually. Larger events provide service opportunities for approximately 30–40 students, while smaller events typically involve 5–10 students.
“A portion of the mission and vision of the UCF Physical Therapy division is to foster excellence in the profession through service and professional duty,” explains Randi Richardson, clinical assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology and Physical Therapy. “The UCF DPT students lead by example, promoting health wellness and prevention. The students value these opportunities to collaborate and gain experience with healthcare professionals and faculty. These experiences mold the students into being community leaders and advocates to promote health and well-being in the Central Florida community.”
“I love serving the community. It makes me happy,” says Rubio. “Even though we have such small roles, it feels like we’re making the greatest difference.”