I earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry in May 2000 and got the opportunity to move from my native Oklahoma to Massachusetts for a research internship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Biomechatronics Group. My first week there, I watched my new boss, Hugh Herr, run a bionic knee trial at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital for people with amputations. As I observed physical therapists (PTs) teaching recipients to use the technology, I knew I'd found my passion.
A couple years later, I moved back to Oklahoma and went back to school to become a PT. Upon graduation, I was hired by Norman Regional Health System to work in the acute and outpatient settings—a dream job for a new graduate who liked both areas of practice and didn't want to have to choose between them.
During my first year I was named physical therapy clinic coordinator at the Norman Regional location in Moore, Oklahoma. It had an outpatient clinic and a small inpatient hospital. I grew in my professional skills as the facility itself expanded, and I worked beside staff who I count among my best friends to this day.