Hannah Goerke is a physical therapy doctoral student from South Bend, IN
Hometown: South Bend, IN
Year: Expected graduation: 2025
Major: Physical therapy doctoral program
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
I originally wanted to be a veterinarian, just like every other elementary school girl in my grade. However, when I started playing softball at a high level, I grew to love physical therapy. I am currently in the NIU Doctor of Physical Therapy program.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
As an undergraduate, my major was health sciences with an emphasis in pre-physical therapy. I also have a minor in nutrition. I wanted to pursue physical therapy because all of my physical therapists throughout my high school and collegiate softball career have been absolutely incredible. They not only helped me through physical challenges after my shoulder surgeries, but also helped me with my psychological challenges, especially through my second shoulder surgery.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I was surprised by the welcoming culture at NIU. Coming in as a freshman I was so nervous because I did not know anyone going to NIU, since I am from South Bend, Indiana. However, being on the softball team really brought me into a culture of built-in friends and a built-in athlete family.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
Being on the softball team made it easy to meet new people since all 24 or so of us were together every day. We also attended many other teams' games, which allowed us to form more friendships as well.
Are you involved in any student organizations, mentoring programs or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I am in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program currently, so there is not a ton of time for extra programs. However, I really enjoy working out, running, visiting family and friends, and staying active!
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
My health and human sciences advisors as well as the Student Athlete Academic Support Services (SAASS) have helped me to succeed here at NIU. As athletes, we would have check-ins with our SAASS advisor to keep us on track and discuss any concerns we had with classes or conflicting class/exam times with our athletic schedule.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
My favorite instructor as an undergraduate was Dr. Daniel Olson. He taught BIOS 546: Anatomy. It is my favorite subject, and he just made it all the more exciting. He was very organized and explained the material in a way that was engaging and helpful.
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
I have never purposefully missed a class here at NIU unless it was for travel purposes during softball season. Going to class directly correlates with succeeding in class. I also think it is a waste of money if you do not attend class!
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
I love to go to Cast Iron Coffee right off campus. It is my favorite study spot since it is so friendly and inviting inside. The ambiance and coffee are phenomenal, making it a great study and social spot.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would say to start looking early so that you can find the right college for you. I would consider how far you want to be from home, your potential major/career path and financial information to help you narrow down the number of schools that would be a good fit for you. If you focus on those three things, there will only be a select few to pick from, which will help you make a choice that feels like home.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I have definitely had to learn how to be flexible and make adjustments when needed. Before college, I had always been very scheduled down to the minute, doing the same thing every day. I had always followed that schedule no matter what. However, in college, there are a lot more gaps between scheduled items. So, some days I would only have two classes for two hours with an hour gap in between and a four-hour practice later. I would need to figure out how to make that hour useful if I was busy the rest of the day.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I go on a run/walk, go shopping or go on social media for relaxation and "me" time.