Posted May 13, 2013

Physical Therapy graduates leave behind gift for future students

Becky Ferguson
The 2013 graduating class in Temple’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program has donated $1,500 to the College of Health Professions and Social Work to provide financial aid for students entering the program.

As they think back on their years at Temple, most 2013 graduates probably remember study abroad trips, nights out with friends or scoring an A on an important final.

But for many soon-to-be-graduates in the Department of Physical Therapy, the memory they cherish most is about giving back.

“Honestly, I have to say my favorite memory was when we presented a check to our school,” said Jackie Davidson, president of the Temple Doctor of Physical Therapy Student Association for the class of 2013.

In November, Davidson and the 50 members of her class donated $1,500 to the College of Health Professions and Social Work to support The Hyman L. Dervitz Scholarship, which provides financial aid for students in their program.

“It was a very emotional day for all of us,” Davidson recalled.

The idea for the class gift began in late 2011 when faculty advisors met with the student association to talk about the importance of scholarship fundraising and the financial challenges many students are facing. Davidson said the professors told them that several students who were accepted into the physical therapy program weren’t able to enroll simply because of the cost.

The professors suggested that the student association try to find a way to help. There is a tradition in the physical therapy department of graduating classes leaving behind a class gift. In the past, the classes would often donate undesignated funds to the student association, Davidson said.

This year, with the rising cost of education high on everyone’s minds, the class of 2013 decided to make its gift to a scholarship that will help students who follow them.

“We kind of brought the financial issues to light, and most of the students could really sympathize,” said Assistant Professor Scott Burns, one of the faculty advisors. “We didn’t really try to push them [to donate to the scholarship]. We just said this idea might be a good one to pursue and let them run with it.”

Usually, class gifts in the physical therapy department are made with whatever money the seniors have left after three years of fundraisers and other class events. When the class of 2013 decided to make its gift to the scholarship, the students made extra efforts to raise money, including holding additional fundraisers, bake sales and raffles.

“We had a really positive response from all of the students involved,” Davidson said. “They were really on-board to do this. They put forth a great effort to maximize the gift and take it to the next level.”

Davidson said the class chose to donate to The Hyman L. Dervitz Scholarship because it is one of the largest scholarships for physical therapy students, and because they wanted to encourage others to contribute to the fund.

Dervitz, who created Temple’s Physical Therapy Department in 1967 and was its chair until 1986, said he was touched by the students’ gift. “The fact that current students have made a donation particularly overwhelms me,” he said. “I am speechless, other than to say thank you, thank you to all.”

Burns noted that the Dervitz scholarship was a fitting choice for the class of 2013 because community service is one of the criteria for receiving the award.

“This class in particular is highly motivated to not only help themselves through their education, but to help the community at large,” he said. “It’s a wonderful class. I’m sorry to see them go, but I’m excited to watch them head out into the real world and make an impact on the patients and communities they serve.”

— Ashwin Verghese