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Meet Northern Pact Scholar Benjamin Lee

March 21, 2018

Benjamin Lee

The Northern Pact encompasses principles that outline the expectations we have for members of our community–being purposeful, just, caring, open, disciplined and celebrative. Each year, the Division of Student Affairs awards the Northern Pact scholarship to students who share this vision of service and personal responsibility.

Meet Benjamin Lee, one of the recipients of this year’s scholarships.
Hometown: Schaumburg, IL
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Health and Human Sciences: Pre-Physical Therapy Emphasis

Why did you choose NIU?
I chose NIU because of the Pre-Physical Therapy Program. There were good opportunities for me to talk to the Physical Therapy (PT) professors. Another cool opportunity is that NIU has the Physical Therapy Clinic, which is my dream program right now, my top choice. NIU lets their pre-PT students go there and observe the skill-based training (SBT) students with the Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.), so you hopefully meet your future professors. It’s a great program.

Why are you studying pre-physical therapy?
I want to be an outpatient orthopedic physical therapist, so I’ll see a lot of patients with chronic pain. When a patient has chronic pain, they are usually going through a dark place in their life. The pain doesn’t just affect you physically, it affects you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. So, being a PT, it’ll give me a unique opportunity to invest, empower and impact those people’s lives.

What do you like most about NIU?
I love that everything is somewhat connected. For example, I’ll see the same students in different classes. I love that NIU is not too big. I don’t need to bike to class, I can just park and walk. I honestly like walking to classes and seeing nature, and that it’s not a built-up college campus like in the city. I also love a lot of the staff here. There are great professors here, they really invest in you and they care about you. For the big classes, the TAs are actually really good. There are really good graduate assistants that have helped me out in biology and chemistry, especially.

Who are your favorite professors and why?
My favorite professor would have to be Dr. Jen Jacobs. She’s my sports psychology professor. I walked into the class feeling a little uncertain but she helped me to gain confidence in the material by helping me understand it. She uses a lot of interactive techniques. She’ll make us go through group exercises in class and interact with her in class and discuss certain current topics pertaining to motivation, injury, optimal arousal, self-efficacy in sports. She makes the material come to life by applying it to our lives, that’s what I love about her.

What excites you most about your major?
Its potential and its flexibility. Physical therapists don’t just have to be physical therapists. We can work in hospitals, in-patient facilities, I could work in home health. I can work in patient orthopedics which is what I want to do. I could work in sports physical therapy with teams. There’s just so many things to do with a physical therapy degree. It’s also a growing profession. The job outlook right now is like 35 percent. There’s this movement right now that ‘movement is medicine,’ with the whole opioid crisis, instead of takings drugs, moving around is medicine. There a great vibe right now of progressing physical therapy. It’s exciting.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned so far?
To be invested. Don’t just come to NIU to take. Come to give more than you take. Don’t come to NIU just to withdraw, come to invest as well. Invest in other students, your peers, through study groups, investing helps you learn the material better. Invest in your professors too, encourage them. Invest in the community, going to speeches and meetings, or even just picking up litter. Encouraging the maintenance staff, they are all over the place working hard and it’s cold out there. So invest, that’s what I’ve learned in my first year and a half.

Why should other students choose NIU?
NIU has a good balance here. It’s not too big and not too small. It’s easy to find like-minded students here. There are so many student groups and it’s good for networking. JobsPlus and Huskies Get Hired help you find career options, so choose NIU because there is a good balance here.

What is your career goal and why?
Twenty years from now I’d like to be teaching and giving back in a PT program but before that, I really want to make a difference in patients’ lives. The law in Illinois is that you can’t see a physical therapist without going through and getting a referral from a doctor first, I want to see that changed. If I open my own clinic, I want people to be able to come in and get treatment for their pain, instead of going through a doctor and paying more money for that process. I want to make access better and easier for patients.

Which Northern Pact Principal do you relate to the most?
Purposeful. That’s me. I like to rephrase that as intentionality which I would say is putting the why to the what. I totally relate to that one the most because why you do what you do will fuel what you do. It helps to avoid burnout. When I’m studying and it gets hard, I take a step back and remember why I’m studying – to get a high grade point average to get into PT school to help people. My why fuels my what. The Northern Pact keeps us accountable. It’s tangible, too. People always say be a good student but the Northern PACT makes it clear. [It provides] clarity for what a good student looks like.

Do you know students who exemplify the principles of the Northern Pact? Encourage them to apply online for the 2018-19 Northern Pact scholarship.