Maggie Benson '13 and Matt Pulisic '87
A career in physical therapy can be both rewarding and challenging, and the academic
preparation is rigorous. To confirm her interest in that career—and to get an in-depth
experience of the work involved—during January (J-term)
2013, Randolph-Macon College student
Maggie Benson ’13 completed an internship
at Ashland Physical Therapy under the guidance of
Matt Pulisic ’87.
Pulisic, who himself completed a physical therapy (PT) internship during his time
at R-MC, believes the experience is an essential step for students interested in
“Internships give students the opportunity to get a taste of a specific field that
they may be interested in and help them determine if that is the career path that
they want to follow,” he says. “Spending time in the classroom studying about a
particular field of interest is appropriate, but it is the internship that allows
the student to truly see what it takes to pursue that career on a daily basis, showing
all that is good and at times bad with that particular career.”
Benson agrees. “An internship really gives you an idea of what the working world
will be like after graduation, and it helps you understand and build the skills
you’ll need. And for me, my internship really made me feel sure about my decision
to become a physical therapist.”
During Benson’s internship, Pulisic made sure that she learned not only about the
hands-on aspects of a physical therapist’s work but also about the other skills
the career demands.
“It’s important for students to gain experience in communication with staff and
patients,” explains Pulisic. “And students get to see the ins and outs of a real
job. They learn that days can be long and that unexpected things can happen and
that you need to learn how to handle those things when they occur.”
A biology major, Benson says she has “always
loved science classes,” and at R-MC she served as secretary for the science honor
society Chi Beta Phi and as vice president
of the biology honor society Beta Beta Beta.
She also took advantage of R-MC’s Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), working the summer before her senior year
with biology professor Grace Lim-Fong, then traveling with a group of R-MC students
to present her research results at the national
Chi Beta Phi conference. “We studied the marine bryozoan Bugula neritina,”
she explains. “It was interesting work and I was also able to develop my research
and presentation skills.”
The opportunity to work closely with her professors has been, for Benson, one the
most rewarding aspects of her time at R-MC. “You really get to know your professors,
and they are so eager to help you,” she says. “I had the opportunity of being a
student on the Biology Department Search Committee for two new professors, and by
doing that got to know the professors even better and really enjoyed the experience.
Benson also found time at R-MC to play
lacrosse, serving as captain of the team. “It gave me a break from school
and also helped me to focus on school work when I needed to,” she says.
With a busy four years at R-MC now behind her, Benson is looking forward to the
next stage of her educational journey; she will be attending the doctor of physical
therapy (DPT) program at Virginia Commonwealth University.
For 30 years, R-MC’s Bassett Internship Program
has been successfully placing students in internships in the U.S. and around the
globe. The Bassett Internship Program works closely with students to help identify
their interests and match them with an appropriate internship opportunity. Randolph-Macon’s
alumni provide a strong network of support for students
throughout their time at the college or in assisting them after graduation with
career direction and opportunities.
Students may choose to pursue academic, paid, or volunteer internships in a wide
variety of settings; recent internships have seen R-MC students gaining valuable
knowledge and experience in fields including health care, finance, non-profit, communications
and media, education, politics and law, and the arts.
The Randolph-Macon EDGE,
the cornerstone of the Center for Personal and Career
Development, helps students lead the pack when competing for jobs and top
graduate schools. Students have the support of faculty, career coaches, alumni and
staff as they focus on their personal and academic ambitions.