By Hillary Lau

Meet Victoria, our Health Science Northeastern University Co-Op!

F&L was fortunate enough to obtain seven Northeastern University Coops this semester, one of whom is Victoria, a Health Science student. Although she is not a physical therapy student, Victoria is able to use her health science background and knowledge to assist the therapists in many ways as well as experience all the aspects of being in an out-patient care clinic.

Let's meet Victoria and read about her experiences working at F&L and living in Hawaii.

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I went to Dartmouth High School in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. I currently attend Northeastern University as a 2nd year Health Science student.

Why were you drawn to health science?
I was drawn to health science after interning at my local board of health in my hometown during high school. It was the first time that I discovered the many different paths there are into the health care field and I wanted to learn more about this in college. Health science has given me the flexibility to explore all aspects of health care from public policy to health care ethics and even physical therapy!

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I wanted to co-op in Hawaii because I wanted a change of pace to the lifestyle that I grew up with and Hawaii’s culture and weather were certainly different from what I am used to. The immediate sense of “ohana”, the never-ending feeling of adventure, and the warmth of the sun almost every day of the year were all things that drew me to Hawaii, but most of all it was the opportunity to meet new people and explore new cultures.

What has been your experience like so far?
My experience so far has been amazing!  I will be the first to admit that many things scare me - bugs, heights, sharks, tropical diseases, more bugs, etc... -  but thanks to my incredible friends and fellow-co-ops I have been able to go out of my comfort zone and explore this beautiful island following their lead and sense of adventure. I’ve been able to have a lot of firsts here in Hawaii - my first hike, first kayak on the ocean, first paddle boarding, first cliff jump, first time driving a standard car -  and I can’t wait for the many more firsts yet to come.

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?
Natto, a fermented soybean, is probably the strangest thing I have eaten here. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever eaten, but it’s not great either - it’s definitely an acquired taste. I am glad though that it made my co-workers happy watching me try to eat it.

What is on your to do list while here?
It feels like I’ve already done so much, but I would still love to visit Kauai, perhaps go camping there, continue to learn about the community and people on the island and about physical therapy, and, of course, eat all the local food!

What are your plans for the future?
After graduating with my degree I plan to go to medical school and hopefully work in family medicine or pediatrics with a focus in public health. I’d like to work with the U.S. Public Health Service or other public service to provide aid and medical support to underserved communities at home and abroad. Anywhere I go though, I hope to be a compassionate, knowledgeable, and team-oriented provider like the PTs I’ve been able to work with here.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
The greatest influence in my life is my Dad. He loved unconditionally, questioned everything, and rolled with the punches. He showed me how to work hard and keep dreaming and I am forever grateful for this life he showed me how to live.

By Hillary Lau

Welcome our Northeastern University Co-Op, Taylor!

We have quite a bit of Coops joining us this semester. Taylor is our 6th PT student to come from Northeastern and he works at our Kaneohe clinic and Kokokahi Aquatic Pool. He shared with us what his experience has been like so far in Hawaii and why he wants to become a physical therapist.

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I attended Merrimack High School, St. Joseph’s College and Northeastern.

What drew you to physical therapy?
My interest in PT sparked when I got injured and had a good relationship with my therapist but it began to grow as I got more interested in the human body while playing sports.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
There are many reasons Hawaii was my top choice but a few important reasons were; explore a new patient population I have not worked with before, exploring Hawaii, being closer to my Grandfather as he gets older, and the presentation at Northeastern representing what F&L was about.

What has been your experience like so far?
My experience here at F&L has been challenging, educational and enjoyable. From working on my time management skills working with multiple patients or just working on listening to the patient and understand what they are experiencing. I have learned that listening to the patient will be one of the most important skills as a PT as I start to create my own career.

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?
The strangest snack I have had here has been the fermented natto beans from Talon.

What is on your to do list while here?
On my to do list is stairway to heaven and to observe a full Initial Evaluation in clinic.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
The therapist I want to become is a therapist that can be relied from both peers and patients, along with a constant drive to continually learn about the field of PT.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
My greatest influence in my life is my mother due to her incredible work ethic to supply everything for my brother and me.

By Hillary Lau

Welcome our Northeastern University Co-op, Sam!

Sam is our 5th Coop to come to us in January 2019. His home base this semester is at our WORC site at the Kokokahi YWCA. Sam is a guest blog for us and here's what he has to say about Hawaii and becoming a physical therapist.

In 2013, I graduated high school from Patterson Mill, a small public school in my hometown of Bel Air, Maryland. After high school I took my talents to the University of South Carolina (GO COCKS). After graduating in 2017 from college, my next venture took me to Boston, Massachusetts to enroll in the physical therapy program at Northeastern University. My path towards physical therapy wasn’t always something validated in my mind until about late in my junior year of college. After originally thinking I wanted to pursue medical school, I began thinking about how I could merge my love and interest of sports, athletic performance and healthcare into a career I could be invested in throughout the rest of my life. Soon after realizing the values and interests I wanted to incorporate into my career, it was easy for me to choose PT as my professional endeavor.

In regards to Hawaii, I never knew there was a co-op available to us until talking with previous students about their experiences here. I have always been very open to stepping out of my comfort zone, especially because in the past it has always opened me up to new opportunities that I would’ve never been exposed to if I hadn’t taken that extra leap into the unknown. I saw this co-op as an opportunity to do just that: a step into the unknown that would offer me the chance to see a beautiful part of the world I had never seen, all while giving me the freedom to learn and continue my journey on the path to becoming a physical therapist.

My experience so far has exceeded all expectations I had before getting here. From work to weekend adventures, there is nothing that I haven’t been amazed by. Just kidding, there is one thing that hasn’t amazed me and that is the nattō that Talon offered me to try eating. The combination of the scent and texture was something that I wasn’t too crazy about so I’m not sure if I’ll ever be eating that again…. but I’m glad I gave it a shot. One of the things that was on my to do list before getting here was to skydive so I could see the beautiful aerial views the island had to offer. I’m happy to say I crossed that awesome experience off of my list already! The next thing on my list would probably have to be the Stairway to Heaven hike… I’ll keep you updated on that one.

Throughout my short journey on the path towards becoming a PT, I have been lucky enough to have worked under many experienced therapists. The one thing that has stood out from the work ethic and character of these therapists is that it never fails that the majority of the patients they work with only have positive things to say about their treatment experience. When patients share with me their compliments and positive things to say about the therapists I can’t help but think that I too want to be the kind of therapist that is highly regarded by his patients, coworkers, and colleagues.

Although I’ve had great influences throughout my path to becoming a PT, I’d still have to say title of “Sam’s Greatest Influence” belongs to none other than my mom. My mom is awesome and I don’t think anything else needs to be said on the matter (she comes to visit in April so I’ll try bringing her around to meet everyone). I’d like to finish up here with this: I’ve never written a blog before so hopefully this fits the criteria and gives y’all a look into myself and my life. Until next time…..

By Hillary Lau

Welcome our Northeastern University Co-op, Armen!

F&L's 4th Coop this semester is Armen. He travels to different clinic sites each day, working at our Honolulu clinic in Honolulu and the Kokokahi Aquatic Pool on the Windward side. We welcome Armen to the family and hopes he enjoys his stay with us. Here's a little about himself and what got him interested in physical therapy.

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I grew up in Southern California and attended AGBU High School, which is located in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I moved to Boston, Massachusetts to attend Northeastern University’s DPT Program at the start of 2018.

What drew you to physical therapy?
Initially I was pursuing a career as a veterinarian but was introduced to physical therapy after suffering a knee injury. The feeling of being injured for a prolonged period of time was something I was not used to. Unable to do the things I loved such as sports and various outdoor activities, I counted on physical therapy to bring me my happiness back. I deeply enjoy being a part of helping people do the things they love.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
Although I was intrigued when first hearing I could apply to a co-op here in Hawaii, I never thought I would pursue the opportunity. Initially, I was intrigued purely for the fact that it would be in a prime vacation spot with limitless outdoor activities as opposed to enduring a cold winter in Boston. It was only until I spoke to previous F&L co-ops where my intrigue turned into excitement. Hearing about the “Spirit of Aloha” and feeling of ohana within F&L and in Hawaii had me eager to apply.

What has been your experience like so far?
Just nonstop fun pretty much. Whether it’s going for a hike, going surfing or kayaking, or just hanging at the beach watching the kite surfers fly by, there’s always something to do. You can read about and talk to previous co-ops about the experience you are going to have as much as you want but as soon as you touch down in Honolulu you know you’re in for a phenomenal time. It’s apparent everywhere you look how real the “Spirit of Aloha” is and that’s especially true when you walk into work.

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?
From the moment I stepped foot here I have been strongly encouraged to experiment with new foods. Some of the stranger things I’ve eaten so far would have to be tako poke, poi, spam musubi, and manapua.. Before coming here I had only tried poke once in my life and nowadays I have been eating it at least 3 times a week and I can’t stop...

What is on your to do list while here?
I just want to make the most of my time here since I know it will fly by. Some of the things I look forward to doing while here would be swimming with sharks, visiting Kauai, and kayaking around a majority of the island.

As long as I’m here, I’d like to hear the waterfalls and birds and winds sing, I’ll interpret the rock formations of the island, get in touch with the ocean, and get as near the heart of the land as I can.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I hope to be a therapist that has the ability to change people’s days and lives. Working in physical therapy requires a certain compassion and attentiveness to patient’s physical and emotional well being that I hope to strengthen and never lose sense of. I’d like to be able to influence people on a level that arouses in themselves an eager want and confidence to be better. The values of F&L is something I hope to have established well once I start my career as a PT.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
It’s difficult to pick a single person that has influenced my life because there are so many people that have had an impact on me to some level. All of my jobs have taught me that I have the power to influence people and that my positive energy can have a huge impact on others. Rather than following a script, I've learned about the benefits of humanity in the healthcare field. I have had great mentors in my life and I think it’s safe to say I have gained a lot more since starting my co-op here in Hawaii.

By Hillary Lau

Meet Myra, one of our physical therapists!

Meet Myra, one of our new Physical Therapists. We are so happy that she decided to join our family in December. Myra was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and has since made Hawaii her home.

Myra graduated with a Bachelors in Public Health from UC Irvine in 2010 and earned her Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of St. Augustine in Northern San Diego in 2016. She works out of the Kaneohe clinic at the Kokokahi YWCA, doing both physical therapy in the clinic and aquatic physical therapy in the pool.

What is your specialty?
I enjoy working with all types of orthopedic conditions, especially those originating from the spine. I also have a background in treating patients with neurological conditions including post-stroke and spinal cord injuries. More recently, I’ve taken an interest in women’s health.

What made you decide to become a physical therapist?
Being physically active was always a big part of my lifestyle. I grew up bike riding and rollerblading around my neighborhood, ran cross country and played tennis in high school, and found a love for hiking and stand up paddling as I got older. These were the things in life that kept me healthy and happy. In college, I wanted to choose a career path that involved helping others. Physical Therapy sparked my interest after I began volunteering at a local PT clinic during my junior year. I loved how involved PT’s were with their patient’s care, their role as a coach/teacher during the road to recovery, and their advocacy for health and wellness. Most importantly, PT’s cared about their patients' goals, whether it be returning to gardening or running a marathon. I wanted to become a PT to help people get back to the things they love doing; the things that kept them happy and healthy.

Who was your biggest influence?
My parents and husband are my biggest influence. My parents have always been supportive of my choices in life and have never doubted me. My husband motivates me to strive for my goals and always makes me feel like anything is possible.

What is your first memory of Fukuji & Lum?
I remember thinking how friendly everyone was when I first met the staff, and how easy it felt to fit in with the F&L ohana. I also remember saying “wow, I get to work here every day” when I saw the bay view from the Kaneohe clinic!

Not only does F&L care about helping others, but this organization also values its employees’ happiness, health, and wellbeing.

What's your "Why"?
I love helping others help themselves. Getting patients to understand their pain and giving them the tools they need to alleviate their symptoms is my goal as a PT. If I can make a small difference in someone's life, then I know I’ve accomplished some good on this earth!

By Hillary Lau

Meet Our Northeastern University Co-op, Ahaan!

Let's meet Ahaan, our third Coop student, who is studying physical therapy at Northeastern and working with us for the next six months. You can find him assisting our therapists at our Kailua and Honolulu clinics.

What school did you attend in high s vchool and what's your current college?
I attended Inventure Academy, an international school in Bangalore, India. Currently, I’m a Physical Therapy student at Northeastern University in Boston.

What drew you to physical therapy?
I loved sports and biology (anatomy) and wanted to do something along those lines keeping both interests in mind. I wanted to do ‘sports medicine’ and so physical therapy fit my requirements perfectly.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I had been to Hawaii (Kauai) for a holiday the summer of 2018 and loved the week I had spent over there. Furthermore, I heard only wonderful things from classmates who had done the same coop a year and a half ago. I love to travel and so taking all those factors into consideration, including spending another winter in Boston, it was a very favorable decision to make to come to Hawaii.

What has been your experience like so far?
Two months in, I’ve met a bunch of amazing, talented, friendly, loving and caring people who love what they do and want nothing but the best for people. They have been a major influence in my experience thus far and the way I look at things. Besides the people, Oahu is a wonderful place with a lot of wonderful things to offer, right from hikes to beaches, from restaurants to hangout spots. I love my time here so far and look forward to spending the next 4 months here.

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?
Spam! I have tried it a couple of times and unfortunately haven’t developed a pallet for it. Just asking people around what spam is sort of gives you an idea as to how it’d taste. So far, Spam 2-0 Ahaan.

What is on your to do list while here?
Surfing, hiking, golfing and scuba diving and trying out local Hawaiian restaurants/cuisine. I’d really like to explore as much of Oahu as possible and make sure I’ve covered every place suggested to me by people.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I hope to be a therapist that listens to their patients, treats the person and not just the injury and one that is able to influence people in making lifestyle changes rather than just a short term difference. At this point in PT school, I’m passionate about getting into sports PT and working with athletes but am not opposed to another setting, should I seem to love working in that setting.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
It's difficult for me to pick a person simply because I learn from everyone around me and learn from traits and habits that I think would make me a better person and someone who is happy with myself. I’d say my parents have the biggest influence, with the addition of coaches and high school friends in shaping me into the person I am today. I learnt a lot from playing both team and individual sports and am very grateful for its impact on my life.

By Hillary Lau

Meet Our Northeastern University Co-Op, Kendall!

F&L welcomes our second Coop this semester, Kendall, to Hawaii and to our 'Ohana. Kendall works at our Kaneohe clinics and pool. She shared a little about herself and her thoughts on why she wants to become a physical therapist.

 

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I attended East Lyme High School in Connecticut and am currently enrolled in the DPT program at Northeastern University.

 

What drew you to physical therapy?
My family led a very active lifestyle growing up. Being always on the move, involved in sports, and active outdoors, I became very interested in the human body. I found myself constantly asking questions about how our bodies worked, especially captivated by the way that we move. Acquiring injuries while growing up, I realized how much we take movement for granted. It is frustrating and debilitating when your body fails you, and as I began to explore career options, physical therapy stood out to me as a way to help people who are struggling with that loss of independence. I enrolled in the 6 year DPT program at NEU somewhat on a whim, but once beginning my classes, meeting inspirational professors, and finding classmates who I share so many values and ideals with, I quickly fell in love with the field and never looked back.
Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
Growing up in Connecticut and going to school in Boston, I have spent all of my life so far in New England. Although I love the beautiful east coast, I found myself itching to see new places and immerse myself in new cultures. When I heard about the opportunity to work at Fukuji and Lum, I knew immediately that it was what I was looking for. Being able to travel to a new place and experience a new culture all while learning and practicing PT could not be more ideal.
 
What has been your experience like so far?
Being here has surpassed all expectations. Life is busy, as our free time is often spent hiking, surfing, or exploring - we are never bored or looking for things to do. But somehow, amidst all the activity, life is also slow. The laid back "aloha lifestyle" allows plenty of time for self reflection, relaxation, exploring new hobbies, or just sitting and taking in the view. The people here have been nothing but welcoming and are all eager to help us have the best experience we can in our 6 months on the island and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for us.
What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?
Manapua!
 
What is on your to do list while here?
Just about everything. I may have already filled a whole notebook (or two) with recommendations of things to do and places to see from patients and coworkers. Every time we check something off I find myself adding at least two more to the never ending list. I only hope 6 months is enough time to make a dent. But in addition to the bucket-list items, one of the biggest things I want to accomplish while I am here is to come out of this experience with a greater sense of self and purpose. What better place to find out more about yourself than on an island in the pacific?
What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
That is exactly what I am here to figure out. I came into PT school with an open mind and have been overwhelmed by the variety of different paths you can take in the PT field. My first co-op was in an inpatient setting and I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it. I still wanted to do my second co-op outpatient so that I could get a feel for both settings. For now, I am focusing on learning from as many different therapists as I can begin to build my own style with pieces from each therapist I have shadowed. However, I can already tell you for sure that I will be carrying the "aloha spirit" with me in my practice for the rest of my life. I have been so inspired by the amount of compassion and attention given to each patient here at F&L. The aloha spirit is true and genuine and I hope to be able to take with me wherever I may end up.
 
Who is your greatest influence in your life?
I have been finding people to inspire me everywhere I go. Initially my parents and family members were my greatest source of inspiration. Beginning school, I found many professors and classmates who have left a great impact on my life and who I am. And now, working in the field, my coworkers and mentors have been proving to be just as influential in who I am becoming and where I want to go in life. 
 
Can't say enough good things about this experience so far. Mahalo, F&L for accepting me in to your ohana (and also for an excuse to miss a New England winter)
By Hillary Lau

Meet Our Northeastern University Co-Op, Samantha!

It's a new year and a new semester in Hawaii for Northeastern students who come every six months to work with our therapists and learn about the physical therapy profession. This semester we are fortunate to have seven Coop students (6 physical therapy majors,1 Health Science major) on staff.

Let's meet Samantha, our Coop student at the Kailua clinic.

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I attended Fourways High School, a public school in South Africa and then moved to Boston for college. I currently study Physical Therapy at Northeastern University.

What drew you to physical therapy?
Being an active child involved in lots of sports sometimes resulted in injuries which ultimately led me to Physical Therapy. I had a great relationship with my PT and always looked forward to my appointments. I learnt more about the profession through being a patient and was motivated by my therapist to keep up with my rehab. I love to keep active and busy and have always had an interest in human anatomy and movement so Physical Therapy seemed to be the perfect fit! Through my observations in the field and classes to date, I continue to believe that PT will be a very fulfilling profession to enter.


Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
That magic of Aloha made its way to Boston and the thought of being able to come to Hawaii captured me from the moment I heard of this incredible opportunity. The stories told by previous co-ops about crystal clear waters, movie-like jungle hikes and welcoming, friendly co-workers were hard to forget. Through information sessions about Fukuji + Lum, I found out about their unique model on patient care and how their patients and co-workers became their Ohana. I was intrigued.  Skipping the Boston winter was an added benefit!

What has been your experience like so far?
Every experience I have had since coming to the island has been one for the books! My roommates and I never miss an opportunity to attempt a new hike, find a hidden beach or explore any and every town we come across. There has not been a dull moment since we arrived two months ago.

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?
The strangest thing I have eaten here is SPAM! I am glad I tried it for the full Hawaiian experience, but I think I will be leaving that to the locals from now on.

What is on your to do list while here?
I would love to leave the island being able to catch more than 1-wave a day on a surfboard! I need to put in more hours than I have currently been doing to achieve this goal though. I am also looking forward to swimming with sharks soon.

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
In the near future, I hope to be the kind of the therapist that is interested in my patients as more than just an injury. I hope to use the model that I have learnt at Fukuji & Lum to try to understand my patient as a whole – from understanding what they are going through personally to looking at all their body systems and movement patterns regardless of what they feel is the only issue.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
My parents are my biggest role models and have the most influence on my life. They are supportive of all my decisions and inspire me to put effort and passion into all I do. They have molded me into the person I am today and I am inspired daily to make them proud.

By Hillary Lau

Talia’s Co-op Reflection

Since returning from Hawaii, I have reunited with many friends and family that I have not seen for 6 months, and I have discovered that most of these interactions begin in the same way. First, they tell me that I look really tan and I assure them that it won’t last long and I’ll be back to my East Coast paleness in no time. Then they ask, “How was Hawaii?”, which always stresses me out because there is no possible way I could answer that question truthfully without talking for 5 hours straight or maybe more. In 6 months I saw more, did more, and learned more than I could have ever imagined. I feel that I got the chance to explore pretty much the whole island, and every new adventure seemed to offer a teaching moment.

There was the time we made the decision on a whim to walk out to Chinaman’s Hat, simply because we were driving by on the way to North Shore and the tide happened to look low. It was something we had been talking about doing for a while but didn’t know much about the best way to get there. People had previously told us that we needed kayaks or at least some kind of flotation device, waterproof bags, etc. but we were completely unprepared so I waded/swam out and climbed to the top of the summit in nothing but a swimsuit and my hiking boots (which were soaked for the rest of the day being the only pair of shoes I had brought). I also left my phone behind completely, which is very rare for me. This ended up being one of my favorite excursions because it was so spontaneous. I was used to planning ahead of time and being able to bring everything we might need for whatever weekend activities we decided to do, but from that moment on I was less worried about that and more willing to go with the flow. I learned to explore my surroundings with an open mind even when I didn’t exactly know where I was going, because it would often result in a new discovery. Hawaii pushed me to venture into the unknown, a task I will continue to take on as I come across unfamiliar classes, people, and clinical settings moving forward with my education.

Diamond Head became my favorite place to surf, and here I learned to revel in the power of the ocean as I spent the majority of my time there getting pummeled by waves. Yet at the same time, I was also able to appreciate the serenity found in nature; one of my favorite routines was to go for a swim at Ala Moana then fall asleep on the sand to the sound of the beach. Our 6 hour hike up Mt. Ka’ala was another beautiful example of finding enjoyment in the outdoors. I originally approached the challenge with the singular goal to successfully summit the tallest peak in Oahu, but I was surprised to find that even though the views waiting for us at the top were pretty cool, I actually enjoyed the entire process of trudging up steep hills and scrambling up muddy rock walls even more. The phrase “it’s about the journey, not the destination” may seem overused, but I truly did internalize it that day. I have since used the experience to remind me not to get so caught up in checking things off my list that I forget to appreciate the process. This is especially important as I return to my busy life at school and my first Gross Anatomy class; I have found I am more conscious now of the way I study and learn, taking the time to revel in the beauty of the human body and how it works rather than simply memorizing what I need to pass the test.

Since my first rock jump at Waimea Bay, I have jumped off of many more ledges and cliffs of varying heights, I have swung on frayed ropes into icy waterfall ponds, I swam with sharks, and I went skydiving for the first time. I won’t lie, I got scared every time I was at the brink of the jump, looking down at the dive I was about to take, regardless of how often I’d done it before. But I never backed down because I learned to accept my fear as an ever present challenge constantly pushing me to test the limits of my courage. Now I apply this skill every time I force myself to go outside into the frigid cold of Boston.

I also biked over the H3 when I did my first Olympic triathlon here in Hawaii, and I will never forget the amazing feeling of flying down the mountain I had just used all my energy to ascend as the beauty of Kaneohe Bay unfolded in front of me. I know I could not have done it without the help of those around me who encouraged me, lent me a bike, helped me transport all of my gear, gave me training tips, and overall provided me with the support I needed to believe in myself and my abilities. The warm and welcoming people I have met in Hawaii have shown me that I should not be hesitant to ask for help, as it can open doors to new and rewarding opportunities. And after everything I have seen and experienced for the past 6 months, it has become clear to me that humans were made to help each other out.

Of course, I did work a bit in between our island excursions. Though my time at the clinic rarely felt like “work” because I loved being around my coworkers and patients so much. I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by so many great teachers who were always willing to help me learn and grow as a therapist. From my time at WORC and the pool, I have learned so many unique methods of rehabilitation and exercise that have shown me how physical therapy can integrate creativity, health science, and empathy into a plan of care that encompasses the patient as a whole. This co-op has reaffirmed my choice in career path, and I am excited to return to my studies with the real life context and passion for my job that I gained here.

When I look back on my time in Hawaii, I will definitely miss the warm weather, fantastic sunsets and sunrises, eating poi with a spoon and Foodland poke bowls. But what will stay with me the most is the sense of acceptance and belonging I was given by everyone at Fukuji and Lum. My fondest memories are of the times I got to spend with these people, from holiday potlucks, to crazy outfits, to early morning WODs. I have come to consider them my ‘Ohana and I will never forget the lessons they have taught me in the power of gratitude and compassion. Leaving Hawaii was hard – I lost count of the number of times I cried during that last week – but I will always keep the places, people, and experiences there close to me, as a special piece of Aloha in my heart.  

By Hillary Lau

Meet Our Northeastern Co-op, Talia!

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?
I attended Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa, California. I currently attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts as a DPT student.

 

What drew you to physical therapy?
As a kid, I had a book about the human body, complete with detailed diagrams and descriptions of every system, from skeletal to digestive to immune. I read every page over and over, marveling at the wonders of the amazing mechanisms hidden just beneath our skin, especially the bones and muscles that function as one of nature's most complex mechanisms. This fascination with the human body has never faded, and along with my love for staying active, I have come to appreciate the joy of movement and the amazing things our body can do. When I shadowed a Physical Therapist at a children's clinic, I instantly knew that this was the right path. A career in which I am able to help others restore and rediscover the happiness and independence that comes with movement sounded like the perfect job for me. My first few weeks at F&L have only reinforced this decision. I have loved every minute of my job, from getting to know the patients, learning new techniques from the therapists, and trying out the huge variety of exercises and equipment in the clinic and in the pool. I am beyond excited to continue growing and learning in this field.

 

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
I still remember the moment I got the job offer from F&L - for a few minutes, I couldn't move or speak out of dumbfounded happiness, then when that passed I just screamed for a while because I couldn't contain my excitement. From the moment that I first heard about this opportunity early on in my freshman year at Northeastern, it was at the top of my list. I have fond memories of visiting Hawaii with my family, so living and working here, getting the chance to become attuned to the local culture instead of just being a tourist, sounded like a dream come true. As I was huddled inside in a jacket and scarf in the cold Boston winter, I had no trouble imagining myself spending my weekends outdoors, hiking through jungles and swimming in warm ocean water. I talked to many former co-ops and was captivated by their awesome stories; I also enjoyed reading their blog posts, and it feels a little unreal that I am now the one blogging! On top of that, as I learned more about F&L and its company values that encourage a humanistic and compassionate approach to PT, I knew that this was a place where I would fit in. I have found that throwing myself into unfamiliar situations usually results in exciting new experiences that I would not have otherwise encountered. Living in Hawaii for 6 months is the perfect opportunity to embark on some crazy adventures, and I plan to do just that!

 

What has been your experience like so far?
My experience so far has been absolutely incredible. From the minute I arrived, I have been welcomed with nothing but kindness and generosity from the F&L family. I have already learned so much working at the clinic and the pool, and every day seems to fly by because I’m having so much fun. Coworkers and patients alike have been so enthusiastic to recommend their favorite spots on the island, and we have not hesitated to explore them. From beautiful hikes through trails that make me feel like I'm in a Jurassic Park movie, to beaches straight out of a postcard, I have been blown away by the sheer beauty of this place. Some of my favorites so far have been jumping off the rock at Waimea Bay, going to my first Bon Dance in Manoa, scrambling down a cliff to visit the Makapu'u tide pools, and learning how to surf at Waikiki. I've also seen so many cool animals, including mongooses, geckos, and I even got an up-close view of a sea turtle while I was swimming in the ocean! Everywhere I look, the scenery is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be here, and I can't wait to see what the next few months have in store for me!

 

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
I have tried so many new foods since getting here, and it's hard to say which was the strangest because I have enjoyed all of them! I think my most interesting experience was trying peanut butter mochi. I love peanut butter and I love mochi, I just never thought you could put them together. The combination made for a delightfully fun squishy texture, and I was quick to go back for seconds. And thirds. And I also took a few pieces home with me.
What is on your to do list while here?
I actually have an ever growing list of everything that  patients, co-workers, and former co-ops have suggested, so hopefully by the end of 6 months I will have had the opportunity to experience most of those, and add some of my own discoveries as well. I want to experience every part of the island by hiking as many cool trails and visiting as many beaches as possible. I would love to watch surfers riding the big waves when it gets to be that time of year, and I would also love to learn how to surf (but preferably on much smaller waves). I definitely want to see some hula, and maybe even go to a luau. I just bought a ukulele at a swap meet and I'm looking forward to spending a lot of time playing it under a palm tree on the beach. Other big to-do list items include shark diving and sky diving! I also love to swim, run, and bike, and I have enjoyed using all three of these to explore my surroundings, and I am also hoping to compete in a triathlon while I'm here. Most of all, I just want to soak up the Hawaiian culture; learn about its history, pick up some of the lingo, eat all of the food, and embrace the spirit of Aloha.

 

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I don’t know yet what population I want to work with, but I do know that I want to be the kind of therapist that can motivate others not just through my words but also through my actions. I enjoy moving and being active throughout the day, and one of my favorite parts about this co-op is getting to try out new exercises along with the patients. I can see myself as the therapist who will help my patient get through that hard set of push ups by getting down and doing it with them. In this way, I want patients to know that I am fully invested in their success. Beyond this, all I know is that I want to be the kind of therapist who is always learning and adapting to the changing world of healthcare, and I am excited to keep an open mind and see where my path leads.

 

Who is your greatest influence in your life?
My parents have always held the greatest influence in my life. Leading by example, they have instilled in me the values of hard work, respect, and compassion ever since I was young. They supported all of my endeavors, showing up to countless basketball games, swim meets, music recitals, and drama performances. They used to give me brainteasers to solve at the dinner table, encouraging me to wonder and ask questions about anything and everything which taught me to be always curious. They showed me how to make the most out of life by pushing me to try new things even when I was scared - from biking without training wheels to riding crazy roller coasters to traveling through foreign countries. They have played a huge role in helping me grow into who I am today. Mahalo, Mom and Dad!