Building a Future: Marquette Summer Intern Reflects on New Experiences, Connections, & Opportunities

Each year, the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research hosts a Marquette Challenge intern in the summer. Margaret “Maggie” Scanlon joined the Foundation staff in 2023 in support of our mission and the student-led  VCU-Marquette Challenge.

I was 12 years old watching my older brother rehab his knee when I decided I wanted to be a physical therapist. While attending all his PT appointments, I was fascinated by how different muscles can be manipulated in so many different ways. Fast forward to six months ago I was sitting in a hostel in Prague at the end of my study abroad in Ireland when I got the acceptance email (at 1 am local time!) confirming that I would be the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research’s newest summer intern.

The emotions that ran through me ranged from scared to overjoyed. I was so nervous that I would only be back in Wisconsin for four months before leaving once again, but my excitement and wonder to see the world and to see how the Foundation supports physical therapy research overtook any fears I might’ve had.

I was welcomed into APTA the second I walked into the building—everyone was so friendly; I knew that the whole summer I could easily reach out to anyone to give me recommendations for DC or even just a friend to talk to. The Foundation team was overwhelmingly friendly, and I could not have asked for a better team to surround me this summer. This team made the 9-5 with a 30 min commute so much more than worth it, laughing, lunches, and showing lots of cat pictures made me realize that the people around you really do make experiences so much better.

Making memories

Working for the Foundation over the last 3 months I have learned so much. From jumping into the wrap-up of the Marquette Challenge, to finances, grant proposals, packing for leadership congress, and working with social media, I truly got to see every aspect of the Foundation throughout my work-but that didn’t stop me from wanting to know more!

My favorite memory this summer was being invited by APTA’s Director of Public Affairs Mike Matlock, to attend a luncheon with Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore and special guest Democratic Whip Katherine Clark. I got to introduce myself to the congresswoman, bring up advocacy for physical therapists and other people who are fighting for justice and even talk about the possibility of a visit to Marquette. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity given to me by the Foundation throughout this entire summer.

This summer I learned more about myself and physical therapy than I would have ever expected; truly seeing how the world might look and the different opportunities that could come my way in the future was eye opening. The connections I made this summer are a building block for my future and I am so excited to see how these connections can help my journey in physical therapy research. I will always cherish the opportunity I had to see a different side of physical therapy and to remind myself how important research is to the physical therapy field. I am beyond excited for my future and the future of physical therapy research.

The Marquette Challenge is a grassroots, student-led fundraising effort that supports the mission of the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR). Each year, hundreds of physical therapist (PT) and physical therapist assistant (PTA) students, with the support of their program directors and community, hold fundraising events across the United States. These fundraisers make FPTR grants, scholarships, and fellowships possible.


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