When Aaron Perkins '01 came to Randolph-Macon College, he knew he might be interested in a physical therapy career in addition to many other careers. He had an interest in teaching, ministry, conducting research, coaching football or even majoring in psychology. “I don’t think most college students know for sure what they want to do when they start.”
What he did know, says Aaron, was that “I wanted to work with and help people and I knew I did not want to sit behind a desk all day.”
Eventually, Aaron chose a pre-health focus, pursuing a major in biology and minor in psychology. "My interest in physical therapy developed and matured though great biology professors like Jim Foster," he says. "R-MC has a very strong biology department with committed professors who take extra time to guide you not just in the classroom but also with conducting research and helping you to make decisions about taking the next step after college."
Aaron also became part of several science honors societies as well as the leadership fraternity Omicron Delta Kappa, and he served on the Leadership Council and as captain of the football team.
A busy schedule, however, didn't keep him from taking advantage of opportunities to further explore his academic and career interests, including participating in R-MC’s SURF summer research fellowship. "Being part of SURF gave me a good foundation for my first job," says Aaron. In that, job, he says, "I was conducting genetics research at Johns Hopkins alongside co-workers who had their master's degrees and Ph.D.s, but I did well due to my research experience and education at R-MC."
With the help of the Center for Career and Personal Development Aaron also pursued internships and volunteer work, including a January (J-term) spent interning with a pediatric physical therapist and time volunteering with physical therapist and R-MC graduate Matt Pulisic '87. "While volunteering with Matt, I had the opportunity to talk to patients, watch him work with patients, ask him questions, and have him challenge me with questions and make me apply some things I learned in school."
“All of these things,” says Aaron, “led me to want to become a physical therapist.”
A rewarding career
Today, with a doctorate in physical therapy from the Medical College of Virginia, Aaron works in Matt Pulisic’s practice as an orthopaedic physical therapist, treating patients with a variety of conditions, from sports injuries to Parkinson’s disease to back pain, and continues to enjoy being part of the R-MC community as a physical therapist supporting the college’s athletes.
“I love that I have the opportunity to build relationships with people as I help them recover from an injury or surgery,” says Aaron. “It is extremely rewarding to help people reach their goals, which may be being able to stand and walk after suffering a stroke or being in a car accident, being able to return to their job after injuring their back or returning to scoring touchdowns on a football field after suffering a knee injury.”
Aaron credits the support, education, and range of opportunities he found at R-MC for laying the groundwork for his success in a career he loves. His advice to students thinking about their own futures? "Take advantage of all the resources R-MC has to offer that other colleges and universities do not offer, including the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), J-term internships, great alumni that are willing to help current students, a great career and counseling center that offers various resources that many other schools do not extend," he says. "All of these things make R-MC students stronger applicants in the workforce and when applying to graduate programs."Paving the Way for Success Rather than prepare students for one career, Randolph-Macon College prepares students for a lifetime of careers in an ever-changing world. Exceptional faculty work with students to cultivate their ability to think critically and analytically and to find creative solutions for solving problems. R-MC graduates are well-prepared for successful careers, often far outside of their areas of study. The Randolph-Macon EDGE, the cornerstone of the Center for Personal and Career Development, helps Randolph-Macon 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. Students may choose to pursue paid or volunteer internships in a wide variety of settings. The Bassett Internship Program has been successfully placing students in academic internships both in the U.S. and around the globe for 30 years. Coordinated with the Center for Personal and Career Development, the program helps students identify their interests and matches 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. The college’s Four-Year Degree Guarantee guarantees in writing that freshmen who meet the Four-Year Degree Guarantee requirements will graduate within four calendar years. If not, Randolph-Macon will waive tuition costs for courses needed to complete the degree. Currently, 95 percent of R-MC graduates complete their degree in four years or less—an important value-added benefit for parents to consider when visiting colleges with their students. Study Abroad programs offer students a beyond-the-classroom global perspective and opportunities to immerse themselves in other cultures. Students can choose from a host of travel courses during January Term and semester-abroad programs. The Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program gives students the opportunity to conduct 10 weeks of original research under the guidance of faculty mentors. Many students present their findings at national and international conferences. Read more Alumni Success stories.