*Editor's Note: Dhara Shah spoke of her dreams and the dreams of her family at the SHP Scholarship Luncheon on Friday, March 13, 2015. She was gracious enough to allow us to share her story and we thank her for her generosity.

Dhara Shaw at SHP Scholarship LuncheonDhara Shah at SHP Scholarship LuncheonWelcome to the SHP Scholarship luncheon! I stand before you because of the generosity of the family and friends of Ms. Shirley Shaddeau and the physical therapy alumni that chose to make a difference by donating to the Shirley Shaddeau Memorial Scholarship. I personally want to extend my gratitude to you. Also, thank you to the faculty and staff of the school of health professions and especially all the scholarship donors for dedicating your time to be with us this afternoon.

My name is Dhara Shah. I am a third year physical therapy student, and I am a dreamer. Growing up, dreams for me were seen always just that, dreams… not reality. My mother had a dream of becoming a microbiologist, however, in India a woman’s life revolved around getting married to a man arranged for her: her dream was forgotten. My father wanted to go to college and be an accountant, but his father passed away and being the oldest he had to provide for his family… his dream was forgotten. Uncles and aunts, cousins, and grandparents... many were dreamers, but reality had a way of pushing dreams by the wayside. 

To the School of Health Professions scholarship donors: Thank you! Thank you for allowing my dreams to come to reality, and thank you for allowing all the students in this room to follow their dreams.

What is scholarship? 

When you think of a scholarship, what comes to mind? Let’s be honest, first thing that comes to most students minds is… ohhh scholarship means money! However, scholarship is way more than just money, scholarship is a quest or pursuit for knowledge. Scholarship provides us students a means to build knowledge and in return use that knowledge to help society. For me, this scholarship means that I can continue living my dream and continuing to pursue what I love. I love being a physical therapist, and my dream is to be the best physical therapist I can be… most importantly for my patients. My passion is to help people move better, and I constantly work towards educational excellence so that I may provide my patients with the best care. 

Luckily, the school of health professions has provided us with an environment in which our dreams and goals can be nurtured. We are so fortunate to have such dedicated faculty and staff that mentor students and help cultivate this atmosphere of success. 

My Dream

Dhara Shaw 01Five years ago, before I started the physical therapy  program, I travelled to Ecuador for an internship at a government funded PT clinic. Parents and children travelled long distances to get services from the physical therapist. The clinic had few supplies but did their best to provide the kids with good care. 

I remember one specific girl, Karen, who was 4 years old with cerebral palsy, and it was her first time in physical therapy. HER FIRST TIME… In America, children with a disability have the opportunity to have early intervention services in the home, school-based physical therapy, in addition to outpatient physical therapy. This little girl had not seen a physical therapist until she was 5 years old. The outcomes of our patients in this country are remarkable and many times we take our healthcare for granted. 

My dream is to be a pediatric physical therapist. My dream is to always think about Karen and remember how she didn’t have all the opportunities she should have had to have the best outcome and ALWAYS provide care that will produce the best outcomes for my kids. 

We, as healthcare professionals, should take pride in how much we have to offer our patients. We can change lives. The School of Health Professions at UAB has given us the knowledge to change lives. 

One example of how the school of health professions and department of physical therapy has helped me change lives is through the I Can Do It, You Can Do It Program. The program conducted by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition is an initiative that encourages opportunities for all Americans to live a healthy lifestyle with regular physical activity. Here is a video on how the DPT Class of 2015 implemented the initiative locally.

SEE MORE: video of the DPT Class of 2015 and the I Can Do It, You Can Do It program can be seen by clicking here

After seeing how my class impacted these kids, I challenge each person in this room to not take for granted the skills you have and work to help CHANGE LIVES every single day.

Thank you all for believing in us and allowing us to live our dreams.