Carlos JohnsonFor years the United States Air Force slogan was Aim High. Chat with Carlos Johnson, the child of a USAF serviceman and a Doctor of Physical Therapy student in the UAB School of Health ProfessionsDepartment of Physical Therapy, and you quickly realize it could be the slogan for him and his family.

“What drives me is advice I received from my super successful brother who always told me: ‘It's hard but it's fair and if it were easy, everyone would do it!’," said Johnson, who earned his bachelor’s degree in the UAB Respiratory Therapy Program. “It takes a lot of work to be part of a certain profession so there is no sense in complaining because it's what you sign up for and one day you'll reap the benefits from all the struggle.”

As a military child Johnson, who now calls Huntsville home, grew up in Asia, Central America and Europe. His family travelled extensively and exposed him to many different cultures around the world. He credits his time overseas, as well as his military family background, with making him a more well-rounded person and with preparing him for the next step in his career.

“I learned to appreciate differences in people early in life and that makes it easy for me to communicate with patients of different cultures,” said Johnson. “I am committed to excellence in the PT field and my plan is to earn an Orthopedic Certified Specialist accreditation and work in an outpatient orthopedic setting and attend a residency for orthopedics and sports medicine.”

Johnson doesn’t need the OCS. He wants it because it will help him stand apart in a competitive field. And he wants it because it will allow him to offer more specialized treatment to his future patients.

As he prepares to graduate Dec. 12, 2013, and enter the real world, we asked for advice to pass on to the next Doctor of Physical Therapy students. He prescribed a regimen that is a mix of work and play.

“This program is not easy, especially in the beginning. It’s important to get a great start to set the tone for the entire semester – keep up with studies and don’t get too far behind,” said Johnson. “But above all, have fun and enjoy yourself. Don’t let school become all you do or you’ll lose your mind. Go out and enjoy friends and family – break the monotony.”