Alumna thrives in pursuit of doctorate degree in physical therapy

Kelsey Lardner’s experience as a Biological Sciences major and volleyball player at Dominican served her so well that she is in pursuit of her doctorate in Physical Therapy.

Now a graduate student at Dominican College in New York – where she was recently named the Outstanding Student in her class prior to its White Coat ceremony – Kelsey relied on the attention to detail and support she received in San Rafael to set her up for success in the PT field.

“The biggest thing was accountability,” says Kelsey, who earned her undergraduate degree in 2014. “At a small school like Dominican, if you are not showing up or performing well people take notice."

Kelsey took notice of Dominican early when she traveled with her family to Conlan Center to watch her cousins, Taylor Clinton ’04 and sister Ashley Clinton ’05, play basketball for the Penguins. Kelsey was recruited out of Placer High School to play volleyball at Dominican.
On the court, Kelsey, a four-time member of the Pacific West Conference All-Academic team, graduated from Dominican as the school’s career assist leader in its NCAA Division II era. She was named Female Student-Athlete of the Year her senior year.

“I had played volleyball for 13 years so for it to kind of end the best possible way it could that was a huge deal for me. I really couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Kelsey says. “Being an athlete at DUC taught me to embrace challenges and hard work, which has been invaluable in grad school.”

Coaches and administrators in the Athletics Department and the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics helped guide her and connect her to part-time jobs and internships, including her first one at Mill Valley Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. It was her setbacks – a fractured wrist and assorted injuries -- along with her successes that steered Kelsey toward a PT career.

“Having to do rehab at different levels I figured out that I wanted to help people get back to doing what they do, too,” Kelsey says. “There’s no better feeling than to get back on the court and perform again. Having gone through it personally, PT was a good fit for me.”

After graduating, Kelsey took a couple of classes at Sacramento City College while preparing for grad school and then chose to go across the country to chase her PT dream.

“It was kind of just chance. I knew I had a great experience at Dominican in California so I figured why not apply to the one in New York and see where it went,” Kelsey says.

Kelsey’s dedication and focus in grad school was recognized by faculty who voted her the most outstanding student in their class.

“It meant a lot. I have put so much time and effort into this, but I kind of do it silently. I don’t look for a lot of recognition,” she says. “I just do what I came to do.”

Which, for the first time since middle school, does not involve being an athlete. Kelsey has adjusted. She has completed her course work and has started clinicals, working with outpatients at a sports medicine facility in New Jersey. She is on schedule to graduate in May of 2019.

“I played all sports middle school through high school and then became a student-athlete at Dominican,” Kelsey says. “I have never had the opportunity to just be a student and I surprised myself in a lot of ways with how well I have done in the PT program.”


February 23, 2018