Student Profile

Student Profiles – Shining the Light

Dalhousie PT Class of 2015  Queens PT Class of 2014  McGill PT Class of 2014

It is often noted (don’t quote me), in various professions, that the youth is the driving force and ‘hope’ of the future; they Shine the Light on the future. This is why we have started a Student Section and profile on the OD website. You’ve got to be intelligent, dynamic, intuitive, and energetic to be accepted into Physiotherapy Universities now-a-days. The competition is fierce. It is time to highlight our students and to share their experiences and knowledge and, quite frankly, it’s interesting to know what students are doing these days research, fun stuff, music, sports) and how they came to choose their respective profession of Physiotherapy.

We have some very dynamic and energetic students that will continue to progress the profession as we evolve- for this, we are very fortunate to have them. Old guys like me (never thought I’d say that) can learn and get energized from them. Go PT students! You have many opportunities ahead of you. Progress the profession.

UBC PT Class of 2014  University of Alberta MScPT 2016

Student Profile – Emily Minten


Name: Emily Minten
School: McMaster University
Program: Class of 2018
Hometown: London, ON

I had the privilege of attending the 2017 CPA Leadership Forum in Ottawa last November. This conference was an incredible opportunity to network, learn, explore, and just dive in to the vibrant, evolving field of physiotherapy. I learned so much over the course of that weekend, and there have been three overarching leadership themes that have really stuck with me since then.

Lesson one: live your passion. Take the step past finding it, and actually engage in it. I chose a career in physiotherapy because I want to be a part of the journey that helps someone get back to doing what they love. I want to help people interact with the world and explore life to their full potential, and I know I am not alone in that passion. Our field is filled with people striving to do better, to be better. This leads right into lesson two: you do not have to do it alone. This was my first experience attending a professional conference, but it will not be my last. I want to stay connected to this incredible community, where physiotherapists from across the country share stories and ideas in order to support each other. I do not think there is a better place to ignite or re-fuel passion and excitement than a conference full of fired-up physiotherapists. I want that support and sense of community as a new graduate. Finally, the last and perhaps most important lesson that I learned was that we can all be leaders in our own way. We do not have to wait until we own a clinic or publish a ground-breaking article. This resonated with me, especially as a student and new graduate. No more planning “what I want to be when I grow up”, but rather, reframing my mind to be that kind of leader now, everyday; sharing my passion and excitement, and leading by example with my patients, colleagues, and team members from other disciplines.

So, what is my plan moving forward? Honestly, that is still a bit of a question mark for now. I was blessed with amazing exposure to so many areas of physiotherapy over the course of my schooling (e.g. spinal cord injury rehabilitation, pelvic health, and concussion management), and I know I still have so many more avenues to explore. One thing I do know for sure is that I want to be a leader who continues to find and pursue things that I am passionate about in this field of opportunities.

Student Profile – Brendan Saville


Name: Brendan Saville
School: University of Western Ontario
Program: Class of 2019
Hometown: Ottawa, ON

My passion for baseball and pursuit of a professional baseball career were the driving factors that motivated me to study physical therapy. My dedication to the sport, intellectual curiosity and academic performance led me to playing collegiate baseball in the United States. While my baseball journey ended, battling injuries along the way ultimately led me to enhancing my interest in rehabilitation.

Prior to starting my Master of Physical Therapy at Western University, I became intensely interested in the kinesthetic properties of athletics and the optimal mechanics to obtain peak athletic performance.
I completed my undergraduate degree at Carleton University, culminating in my thesis that explored the role of anxiety and stress in sports performance. I returned to the diamond as a coach for the university’s baseball team and a local baseball development academy.

While my academic studies grounded my critical thinking skills, time spent outside of the classroom shaped my interest in rehabilitation. For two years as a physiotherapy assistant, I helped dozens of patients on the road to recovery and witnessed the benefits of consistent physical therapy. Every day, I learned how to best identify someone’s physical challenges and set an intervention plan for rehabilitation while considering physical, psychological and social well-being. Helping patients meet their rehabilitative goals is incredibly rewarding and solidified my desire to pursue a career in physical therapy.

Being exposed to orthopedics in my master’s sparked a strong desire to explore this fascinating and ever evolving field. The integration of academics, research, manipulative therapy and clinical intervention in orthopedics creates an environment where I hope to develop my professional skills. I’m striving to continue my academic journey at Western University beyond the MPT program and enroll in the MCIS (Manual and Manipulative Therapy Field) in the near future.

Student Profile – Richard Iheadindu

Richard Iheadindu

Name: Richard Iheadindu
School: Queen’s University
Program: Class of 2018
Hometown: Brampton, ON

Prior to starting my Master’s in Physiotherapy at Queen’s University, I completed my undergraduate degree at York University in Kinesiology. I have always been involved in many sports like soccer, rugby, track and field and basketball to name a few. My appetite for fitness and sports lead to me playing varsity basketball at York from 2011 to 2015. I was the team captain and varsity programs academic mentor for my last two playing years and being on the executive team for the Golden Key (GK) at York University as the marketing director and vice-president. My experience with GK at York allowed me to participate in several antibullying campaigns within secondary schools in the York region and the region of peel. I was also involved with research at York University and worked in the visual perception and attention laboratory where I completed my independent studies presentation for the School of Kinesiology and Health Science.

My time at York University was what lead me onto the path of becoming a physiotherapist. Through volunteering for several rehabilitation clinics in the Greater Toronto Area, I became familiar with the profession and this ultimately sparked my interest. I always knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field, helping others and impacting people’s lives whether it be small or large. It intrigued me to know that I could help others by using the biggest tool in my life and the most meaningful avenue for better health, which is exercise and movement. As I have continued to grow and learn more, I now see that Physiotherapy encompasses much more. With the experience I have had in my undergraduate and my first year in the program, I only expect to continue learning.

At Queen’s University, I used my last eligibility year and played on the Queen’s men’s basketball team. This was the hardest I have been pressed for athletics and academics. However, I was lucky to have great coaches who were willing to accommodate the time constraints of my first year in the physiotherapy program. At Queen’s I have been involved in the raising money for the Cancer Society and for Special Olympics through Motionball, which was organized by the varsity leadership council at Queen’s. I am still active, participating in intramural sports and will continue to stay active for as long as I can, using my experience in life so far to help others.

Student Profile – Kazunori Kikuchi

Name: Kazunori Kikuchi

Born and raised in Japan, Kazunori Kikuchi’s path towards the study of physiotherapy at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) has been exciting and worldly. In addition to accepting the challenges of returning to school at the age of 34 with an active home life (with his wife and two young children), Kikuchi’s passion for physiotherapy has also started him on a personal initiative to fill a gap which he holds dear to his heart.

Reflecting on his years playing competitive soccer in Japan, Kikuchi comments on the differences in perspectives regarding physiotherapy across the globe. “I had multiple major injuries but I didn’t go to physiotherapy in Japan because I didn’t know about physiotherapy as a profession and simply there were no physiotherapy clinics available.” Kikuchi notes that the seminars, workshops and evidence-based research studies which fashioned his appreciation for physiotherapy were only exposed to him in his adult years while living in English-speaking communities. After learning English at the age of 20, Kikuchi is motivated to tackle the language barrier which prevents accessibility of these resources to Japanese therapists.

Thus, the idea of “JPL – Japan Physio Learning” came into being. Kikuchi’s mission is clear: to connect Japanese therapists with translated summaries of evidence-based studies regarding rehabilitation and physiotherapy techniques practiced in North America, so that they can further improve their knowledge and acquire new approaches to practice. Long term, the hope is to create a network of Japanese therapists who have a common interest in sharing ideas and discussing cases where integration of North American approach to physiotherapy may be beneficial. Kikuchi’s specific roles will include identifying, summarizing, and translating research studies and physiotherapy techniques and treatments practiced in North America. JPL will be disseminated through social media, first as a Facebook page, and eventually as a website hosting blog posts, vlogs, live Q&As, and scheduling workshops and seminars to be held in Japan. Kikuchi plans to release first content in January 2018.

Kikuchi is pursuing his Masters of Science, Applied, in Physiotherapy at McGill University, graduating class of 2018. Although the vision is set on an international stage, Kikuchi looks forward to practicing as a physiotherapist in Canada, the country he now calls home.

Student Profile – Celine Nathoo and Kaela Newman

Celine Nathoo and Kaela Newman

Names: Celine Nathoo and Kaela Newman
School: University of Toronto
Program: MScPT Class of 2017
Hometown: Whitby ON & Elora ON

Celine and Kaela co-founded the student-led Community Philanthropic Committee for the Department of Physical Therapy. This group organizes different initiatives each month to promote the value of students “giving back” to the community. When Celine and Kaela finished their first year of PT school, they felt like something was missing. Both had grown up being active in their communities and were very involved in school life throughout their undergraduate degrees. They wanted to give their peers opportunities to participate and volunteer at local events and raise awareness about local initiatives and organizations. Thus, the Community Philanthropic Committee was born.

This year they were able to organize multiple successful events through the committee. Students had the opportunity to volunteer at the Princess Margaret Hospital ‘One Walk to Conquer Cancer’ as well as donate blood through a faculty wide blood drive. Over Christmas students raised over $1200 to support the Rehabilitation department at the Hospital for Sick Children in purchasing toys and equipment off their Holiday Wish List. They also held a yoga and boot camp session for International Women’s Day and donated funds to the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport.

Along with Co-founding this committee, Celine and Kaela are involved with other initiatives at the school. Celine is a PT representative for the student branch of the International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation and a subcommittee member for the Student Subcommittee of the Global Health Division of the CPA. Kaela is President of the Physical Therapy Graduate Student Association. She is also a member of the Advancement and Community Engagement Committee and a Student Ambassador for the Graduate Student Life Experience.

In April this year, Celine and Kaela were awarded the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award by the University of Toronto Alumni Association and the Division of University Advancement. This award recognizes students who have made outstanding extra-curricular contributions to their collage, faculty or to the University as a whole.

Both Celine and Kaela hope that upon graduation from U of T, they will have the opportunity to continue to give back to the faculty and their local and global community. With an interest in Orthopaedics Celine and Kaela both plan on challenging their Level 1- Orthopaedic Division Syllabus course this fall.

Student Profile – Brian Weixi Li

Brian Weixi Li

Name: Brian Weixi Li
School: McGill University

Brian, a physiotherapy student at McGill University, is passionate about promoting an active lifestyle and injury prevention. His favourite sport is Dragon Boat Racing and has competed at the national and international level since his debut in 2009. With any sport, there is a risk of injury with the accumulation of training and competitions.

Brian trains with his teammates on a daily basis while always emphasizing the importance of proper training and injury prevention. He is currently the coach of Marianopolis College and Caravela (Montreal’s first Dragon Boat team adapted to the needs of individuals with visual impairment or blindness). He aims to inspire others to seek challenges for self-improvement while fostering a positive attitude towards teammates and competitors. Brian’s experience as both an athlete and a coach allows him to better collaborate with the people around him while increasing their confidence and self-efficacy.

Recent advances in technology and research allows for an improved patient quality of life. Brian’s profound interest for discovery carried him to pursue research projects, in psychiatry and medical education, which both aimed to improve the health care system. Health research provides an excellent challenge, allows for self-directed learning, and sparks inspiration to discover new findings. He is ultimately driven to pursue research as a physiotherapist and to encourage his peers to continue their journey.

Student Profile – Melanie Desaulniers-Rioux

Melanie Desaulniers-Rioux

Name: Melanie Desaulniers-Rioux
School: McGill University
Program: Class of 2014 (Fall)
Hometown: Lac-Beauport, QC

Hello! I am a 24 y.o. Physical Therapy student at McGill University. I will graduate in the fall of 2014. My hometown is Lac-Beauport, near Quebec City, but I was born and raised in Germany while my father played professional hockey there.

Coming from a very athletic family, I myself competed in many sports: swimming, figure skating, rugby, rafting, and soccer. Playing varsity soccer is what first allowed me to discover what physiotherapy is. I was headed towards a career in Engineering, but I changed my plans as I realized that the human body is the most interesting “machine” to work with!

During my PT studies, I worked and volunteered for different sports events, providing prevention tapings and first aid, which sparked my interest towards orthopedics. Having worked with children most of my life, it is no surprise that I am also very interested in pediatrics rehabilitation. Finally, I recently completed an 8-week international placement in a rural community of southern India, which further confirmed an already well-establish interest for Global Health.

Furthermore, being a student representative for the Association Physio-Montréal, as well as being class representative for my cohort, gave me the opportunity to attend various conferences and courses, such as the 2013 CPA National Congress. These experiences encouraged me to continue pursuing continuous education after I graduate, which is something I find exciting about our profession. In conclusion, I am thrilled to be entering the profession this year, as physiotherapy truly became a passion for me.

Student Profile – Steve Keefe

Steve Keefe

Name: Steve Keefe
School: Dalhousie University
Program: Class of 2015
Hometown: Tignish, PEI

Born and raised in Tignish, PEI, Steve spent a lot of time playing sports growing up. He played many sports, with a focus on hockey and competitive volleyball. Having a strong love for sport and exercise, Steve moved to Fredericton, NB to enrol in the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program at UNB. With a strong interest in injury care and prevention, he spent many hours volunteering in the rehab environment. These experiences included: a circuit program for post stroke patients, athletic training with St. Thomas University as well as Fredericton High School hockey and as a kinesiologist at a local PT Health clinic. Upon graduating with a BsKin, Steve spent a year and half working as a kinesiologist with PT Health. This was a very amazing experience and solidified his desire to per sue a career in physiotherapy. One Friday morning in May 2013 was a very happy day when Steve was accepted into the Master of Physiotherapy program at Dalhousie University. So far, the experience has been absolutely outstanding. Steve is expecting to graduate in the 50th grad class from Dalhousie in the fall of 2015.

Student Profile – Adam Piccinin

Adam Piccinin

Name: Adam Piccinin
School: McMaster University
Program: Class of 2015
Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario
Previous experience: Physiotherapist Assistant, Kinesiologist, and Personal Trainer

Reasons for going into PT:

I choose physiotherapy because it is the perfect harmony of: my passion for physical rehabilitation, my career interest in healthcare, and my skill set as a healthcare professional. I believe it is important to follow what you love in life, and I am enamored by the complexity of the human body and how it heals itself from physical stress. Furthermore, I find a sense of fulfillment in helping others surpass such damages to their physical state. With the knowledge and experience from a physiotherapy education, I hope to provide a service where I can help others overcome the physical barriers they encounter, and establish a model to prevent future barriers from occurring.

Brief life story:

My path towards a career in physiotherapy has involved many ups and downs, but one thing has remained constant throughout the process and that is following what I am passionate about. I was first introduced to physiotherapy during my community volunteer hours in high school. At the time I had an interest in sports and athletics, and seeing injured athletes heal and return to activity appealed to my career interests (to help other people, and to work with activity related injuries). I continued my education into the realm of movement and health by applying to an undergraduate program in kinesiology. I graduated from the University of Western Ontario with my Bachelors of Science in kinesiology in 2011. During my undergraduate degree I also sought out more experiences related to physiotherapy, and I was fortunate to work as a volunteer over the course of my undergraduate degree. This experience helped solidify my interest for a future career in physiotherapy. Unfortunately, my transition from my education in kinesiology to physiotherapy did not go as well as I had hoped. However, after some additional courses and a few attempts at admission, I was successful in achieving a position in the physiotherapy program at McMaster University. During this transition I also found more opportunities as a volunteer and full time employee to work in physiotherapy related settings (i.e. private practice clinics, community fitness facilities, and a designated OHIP physiotherapy clinic). These experiences provided me with many skills and traits that are important for both a career in physiotherapy and for success in life as well. So far, learning about physiotherapy and its practice has been everything I had hoped for, and I am excited to continue on my path towards becoming a physiotherapist.

Sports and other activities:
  • I enjoy golfing, snowboarding and many other sports at a recreational level (hockey, football, and ultimate frisbee)
  • I am also interested in many forms of exercise and fitness

Student Profile – Emma Plater

Emma Plater

Name: Emma Plater
School: Queen’s University
Program: Class of 2015
Hometown: Simcoe, Ontario
Undergrad: BSc Human Kinetics from the University of Guelph

Physical activity has always been a large part of my life. I grew up playing many sports and am now a varsity runner and elite triathlete. I chose PT because it will give me a chance to promote the healthy and active lifestyle I love alongside doing physical treatment. My mother worked as a PT in neuro rehab, so my first exposure to PT was not orthopaedic, but several sports injuries later I became very familiar with the orthopaedic side of PT as well. After my MScPT I hope to pursue a PhD in rehabilitation science, because I enjoy research and I think it is a very important part of clinical practice. My goal is to work with amputees; Terry Fox is my sports idol and the resilience and strength among this population – paralympians and non-athletes alike – amazes me.

Student Profile – Jordan Gillis

Jordan Gillis

Name: Jordan Gillis
School: Dalhousie University
Program: Class of 2014
Hometown: Moncton, NB

My name is Jordan Gillis, I am originally from Moncton, NB, and I am a second year physiotherapy student at Dalhousie University (Class of 2014). Prior to beginning my study in physiotherapy I completed my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at the University of New Brunswick.

I have always been involved in extra curricular activities, starting at Harrison Trimble High School in Moncton, where I was a member of the Grad Council, as well as the varsity basketball and volleyball teams. This trend continued at UNB where I was involved with the Kinesiology Student Society (Co-President), the Kin Games Team, the Right To Play committee (executive member), and being the color commentator for the UNB Varsity Reds men’s basketball team webcasts for two seasons. After attending Congress 2013 in Montreal, I was motivated to become more involved with the CPA, which is why this year I am one of the representatives from Dalhousie University for the CPA National Student Assembly.

I grew up playing basketball, volleyball, and I’ve recently started playing squash. I also drag race, a sport my family has been involved in for many years. My favorite hobby since graduating high school has been playing drums, and this year I started playing in the Tupper Big Band at Dalhousie, which has been a great experience.

I decided I wanted to study physiotherapy at the beginning of high school, when I was spending most of my time on the court and in the gym playing sports. At that time, I was motivated to work specifically with athletes, but the more I began to learn about the profession the more opportunities I realized were available. I have become increasingly interested in the ortho and neuro fields. The experiences I had with physiotherapists leading up to starting at Dal were always very positive. Whether it was receiving treatment, volunteering, or just having casual conversation about the profession, I realized how much physiotherapists enjoy their job and genuinely appreciate the opportunity to help people reach their goals. Attending Congress has been a highlight of my experience in the profession so far and I am looking forward to attending again this year. It was great to see all of the opportunities that physiotherapy has to offer in Canada, beginning with the National Student Assembly. I am very excited to begin my career as a physiotherapist and continue being a leader in my community.

Student Profile – Robyn Murray

Robyn Murray

Name: Robyn Murray
School: McMaster University
Program: Masters of Physiotherapy, Class of 2015
Hometown: Essex, ON

Robyn believes that the culmination of several experiences in her life have lead to her passion for helping others improve their health and wellness. As a child she often volunteered at her grandmother’s nursing home in Wales UK, where she provided lunch services to the residents and would enjoying talking with them about their day. It was in these early years that she was first exposed to the importance of physiotherapists in the maintenance and improvement of others’ health. Her aspiration to pursue a career in physiotherapy was confirmed during her rehabilitation following a life-changing car accident as young adult.

The first step in her journey began by completing the Bachelors of Human Kinetics program in 2011 at the University of Windsor. It was during her undergraduate degree that she became interested in the investigation of human movement and was fortunate to complete two summer NSERC internships in the biomechanics laboratory, while also volunteering in the exercise physiology laboratory. She also became involved in several community and university wellness initiatives, as she firmly believes that giving back to others is an essential quality of health professionals. These included free fitness classes and workshops for older adults, young women, and incoming international students, as well as fundraising events to provide children with the opportunity to attend summer sport camps. Robyn graduated from the University of Windsor at the top of her class and received a CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship to continue to pursue her research interests.

It became apparent to her while working as a fitness instructor and personal trainer at the University of Windsor that adherence to physical activity was a primary concern of health professionals. Therefore, in 2013 she completed a Master’s of Science in Kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University prior to pursing a degree in physiotherapy. Specifically, she conducted a community intervention involving over 200 participants that aimed to increase the adherence of beginner exercisers by manipulating important psychosocial group dynamics properties (e.g., cohesion) within fitness classes. This work was presented at four conferences, and also placed third in Wilfrid Laurier’s “Three Minute Thesis” competition. She continued her volunteer work while living in Kitchener-Waterloo (KW) by participating in fundraising events for cancer (i.e., Climb for Cancer) and children with disabilities (e.g., Easter Seals “Drop Zone”), while also acting as the volunteer trainer for the KW youth rock climbing team.

Currently, Robyn is pursuing a Masters of Science in Physiotherapy at McMaster University and is expected to graduate in 2015. McMaster University is one of the leaders in teaching evidence-based, patient- centered practice, which are at the core of Robyn’s personal and professional beliefs. She is still open to her future career path, but is likely to continue to be involved in research due to her growing interest in the importance of valid and reliable outcome measures. She also has a personal passion surrounding the management of chronic and pelvic pain, as well as the rehabilitation of adventure sport athletes such as rock climbers and backcountry skiers.

In her spare time, Robyn enjoys being outside and has been a competitive rock climber since 2008. She also enjoys mountain biking, golf, and trail running with her rescued German Shephard mix “Bonnie”. Robyn is married to her long time friend and fellow rock climber, Scott Murray, who is the coach of the youth climbing team in KW and serves on the board of directors for the Ontario Climbing Federation.

Student Profile – Jared Maynard

Jared Maynard

Name: Jared Maynard
Age: 23
School: Queen’s University
Program: Masters of Physical Therapy, Class of 2015
Hometown: Mississauga, ON

I am often asked why I chose to pursue physiotherapy as a career and, truthfully, my answer to that question is continuously evolving each time I give it. I suppose the initial reason remains the same: in my late high school and early undergraduate years I knew I wanted to do something in the health care field. I wanted to be able to teach people skills and techniques to make them stronger, healthier and more able to conquer their individual challenges. I wanted to feed off of my passion for active living and exercise and spread it to others. I wanted to directly impact lives for the better, and be able to see the result of the work I was doing. I don’t recall a definitive moment where I decided that, “I want to be a physiotherapist,” but over time I saw how physiotherapy satisfied all of my early criteria. Now I am constantly amazed to find how rich and diverse this field actually is, far beyond what I could conceptualize even one or two years ago.

Born in Ottawa and raised in Mississauga, ON, I have been drawn to sports and science my entire life. I enjoyed thinking of myself as a sort of “smart jock” in high school, excelling in my academics and remaining a starting football player for three seasons. Searching to balance brains and brawn led me to pursue an Honours Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree from McMaster University in 2008. Sometime around my third year of the program I decided that physiotherapy was what I ultimately wanted to pursue and began preparing to apply to Masters programs within Ontario. I was turned down by every school the first time around, and I look back on that rejection now as one of the greatest opportunities I have ever received. It allowed me to secure a job as a kinesiologist (before they were regulated, mind you!) with Physiomed Erin Mills in Mississauga. There I was able to put into practice the knowledge and skills I had acquired in my undergrad, working with real people to achieve real results. I began to understand what it felt like to make a meaningful difference to someone else which strengthened my resolve to keep after physiotherapy. I submitted my applications again the following January and am now in my first year of the Masters of Physical Therapy Program at Queen’s University, due to graduate in 2015.

Throughout this entire journey, I have participated in Kung-Fu, basketball, tennis, swimming, skiing, soccer and rock climbing. My main hobby right now is weightlifting, and I have aspirations to eventually compete in both bodybuilding and powerlifting. What I find even better than participating in the sports themselves is that my love of training, personal improvement, human movement and biomechanics translates directly into my studies and practice in physiotherapy. I believe it gives me a unique perspective on challenges faced in the classroom, the clinic and in my personal life. I have found enjoyment in always learning, regardless of what capacity it’s in, and I can’t wait to see where this amazing field of physiotherapy takes me in the very near future!