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!
By Hillary Lau Happy at Work