Prospective Students

Sean Niko Tesoro-Racelis


Graduation Year: Rutgers University Class of 2016

Major: Exercise Science and Sport Studies

Graduate School: Rutgers University DPT Newark - North Program, Class of 2020

When/what made you want to become a Physical Therapist?

Around the age of 16, I was introduced to the career of physical therapy by my mother who was a nurse at an assisted living facility in Livingston, NJ. At that time, my mom noticed the increasing demand for physical therapy (PT) and the general wellbeing her PT coworkers enjoyed at work. My mom recommended me to look into PT considering my enthusiasm for various physical activities, such as basketball, tennis, track, snowboarding and resistance training. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into before volunteering at my mom’s job except for the rumors about assisted living facilities pervaded with unsettling odors, unmotivated senior adults, and unhappy families. To my surprise, however, my first experience was occupied by PT’s working with determined patients focused on getting better and families filled with jubilance to see their loved ones progressing to premorbid functioning. I left that day grateful to know that PT was a field I was going to enjoy someday, and throughout these past seven years, there hasn’t been a day I’ve thought differently. Every day I learn something new about PT that reminds me how special we are to be in a career that means a lot for our patients, families, other healthcare workers, and most importantly ourselves.

What specifically about the Rutgers DPT program appealed to you?

Applying to any Doctor of Physical Therapy program was quite the challenge. I can recall the countless hours spent researching schools around the New York metropolitan area that exhibited excellence in education, offered great contributions to the field of PT, supported economical costs for its students, and was proximal to my home. Fortunately, the Rutgers DPT program fit all the above mentioned. Moreover, I found Rutgers’s Community Participatory Physical Therapy Clinic (CPPTC), a student-run pro-bono clinic, and the virtual reality lab run by Dr. Deutsch uncommonly interesting. An extracurricular opportunity, such as the Rutgers’s CPPTC, for students to work one on one with patients while a nearby academic professor stood by to answer any questions throughout the student-patient treatment was a great asset that Rutgers had compared to other schools. Additionally, Dr. Deutsch’s lab, which combines contemporary gaming systems as an intervention to treat patients with neurological disorders, showcased an innovative atmosphere that caught my attention. Finally, after considering all of the DPT programs I prioritized Rutgers as the school to pursue my DPT.

What kind of experiences or activities did you have in the field of Physical Therapy during your undergraduate education? (Internships, volunteer experiences, etc.)

Throughout my undergraduate career, I continued to build my interest in becoming a PT by actively seeking opportunities in various clinical settings. My observations in outpatient settings, such as Jersey Physical Therapy and Garden State Physical Therapy, exposed me to various musculoskeletal and post-operative injuries, as well as manual therapy and PNF stretching techniques. During my inpatient observations at Alaris Health, I observed patients suffering from disparate disorders, ranging from amputated limbs to severe mental malignancies. Most recently, my position at Finish Line Physical Therapy, a wellness and prevention facility in NYC, has taught me about the complexities of functional performance through the practice of functional manual reaction and regional interdependence. My apprenticeships with various physical therapists not only proved PT as an amazing field, but it also shined a light on the fact that PT’s are everyone’s hero. I witnessed PT’s help bring families together, assist a post-stroke patient and suffering from diabetes and cardiovascular disorders regain the ability to stand up and walk independently. I’ve witnessed a professional baseball player recover from post shoulder surgery and an avid marathoner condition for an ultra-marathon. Evidently, PT is a place for all ages and any person to seek assistance.

Did you have a favorite class or professor within your major?

What I appreciated most about being an exercise science major at Rutgers was the wide array of classes we were offered. From biomechanics to systems physiology and anatomy to organic chemistry, the exercise science major allowed students to find his or her own path in the field of health sciences. For example, I’ve had good friends pursue medicine, nursing, Ph.D.’s in exercise physiology, occupational therapy and physical therapy after obtaining their degree in exercise science. In regards to my favorite undergraduate class and professor, my choice has to be systems physiology taught by Dr. Golfetti. Systems physiology is not only a prerequisite for many health careers, but it is essential course in learning about the overall human body. I am confident to say that Dr. Golfetti prepared me for the workload and information demanded in graduate school. It was a tough course, but it was well worth it in the end!

How do you feel your major and classes at Rutgers University prepared you for graduate study in the DPT program?

As mentioned above, I was fortunate to graduate as an exercise science major and experience the classes offered in the major. Specifically, functional human anatomy proved to be an invaluable resource, because I was able to take what I learned in that class and applied it to the anatomy course taught here at the Rutgers DPT program. Furthermore, biomechanics, a course taught by Dr. Manfredonia, reinforced my knowledge in human kinesiology which ultimately benefited me this past semester when I took Kinesiology. I owe a part of my success to the professors in the Rutgers exercise science major.

If you could give advice to undergraduate students following a pre-physical therapy path, what would it be?

My advice to undergraduate students following a pre-physical therapy path is to take the initiative to volunteer and/or work as a physical therapist aide at numerous PT settings before journeying down the road towards applying to a DPT program. This way, they can get a broader perspective about the field of PT, and determine if the path to becoming a PT is truly for them. However, when they do discover that PT is the right career field for them, then my advice is to always work their hardest. But never forget while you’re studying hard, you are studying to treat the patient, not the disease. We should always remember why we want to become physical therapists.