Weekend study breaks and 14ers: Meet Chris Aguirre

IMG_4621Chris Aguirre

Hometown: Chandler, AZ

Undergrad: Arizona State University

Fun fact: I can eat an entire Costco pizza faster than I can run a mile.


When I first moved to Colorado, I was overwhelmed with how many new things this state had to offer and couldn’t wait to start trying things. Top of my bucket list: to summit one of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners.

I was born and raised in the hot-basking blaze of Phoenix, Arizona where the highest peak in the valley is an enormous 2,610 feet. Just imagining being over 14,000 feet above sea level has a certain “aww” factor to it. So, one October weekend some of us 2018ers headed out to the wilderness (just outside of Breckenridge) to camp out and then climb Quandary’s peak.

Our trek began around 8am and the steep ascent began almost immediately. The path was well traveled and very easy to follow up; with the little hiking experience I had, I began thinking that if the whole way up was like this, I was in for an easy morning! The sun was shining, the temperature was awesome, tall green pines surrounded me, and my brand new hiking boots were feeling great. This feeling lasted for about 30 minutes. The elevation quickly got to me and I found myself feeling out-of-breath like the out-of-shape college grad I was.


All morning, our classmate, Paul, had been leading the group super fast. It was pretty perfect that we started calling Paul a mountain goat and, after we reached the saddle, we saw an actual mountain goat chilling on the mountain.IMG_4627

The great thing about being so high up was that the view kept becoming more and more unbelievable as we continued. This meant many “scenic breaks” and I was a-okay with that—it gave me a chance to catch my breath.

As we ascended above the tree line level the trail became very rocky. The wind had also started to pick up; it was getting pretty cold and hard to climb. We reached the saddle and all gathered around to talk about if we should continue with the hike. There were numerous people coming back down from the summit who were saying the winds at the top were 60+ mph and pretty dangerous. None of us really wanted to end our first 14er early, though, so we continued trekking.

The last 300 feet to the summit was difficult, but as soon as we reached the top, the view was remarkable…remarkably cold and windy. We quickly jumped into a divot surrounded by rocks to try and break some of the wind around us and avoid being blown off the mountain. Luckily, there were two other people at the summit who were nice enough to take the typical candid picture of our group at the top.

We almost immediately started to descend back down the mountain after a few great pictures so we could escape the wind and start to feel our faces again. On the way down it dawned on me that we had just made it to 14,265 feet!  We got back down to our cars and then—of course—had to stop for celebratory pizza and beer on the way home.

It is so surreal that these gigantic mountains are now right in my backyard. I think the coolest part about moving to Colorado (besides the great PT program, classmates, and faculty) is how many different places there are too explore.

What makes it even better is having classmates who share similar interests in and outside of the classroom and are always excited to try new things. Good luck to all of you on your interviews! Relax, be yourself, and hope to see you next year!


Commuting, anatomy groups, and transitions: Meet Amanda Rixey

Amanda Rixey

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Undergrad: University of Kansas

Fun fact: I used to be a ballet dancer.

Transitioning from life as a dance major in undergrad to life as a physical therapy student was a challenge.  I used to spend eight or more hours a day in dance classes or rehearsals with a few science classes interspersed. The switch to a mixture of lectures and labs throughout the day was difficult to get used to; as someone who needs to constantly be active, I found my biggest challenge of first semester was sitting in my chair during lectures!  Luckily, because the faculty similarly love movement, we get 10-minute breaks every hour to move around and stretch.

Another challenge I found was getting used to city life.  As someone who previously would do anything to avoid driving on highways, I had to brave rush hour traffic in order to get to school on time.  I tried taking side roads, but it took me almost 45 minutes!  I think it’s safe to say I’ve mastered driving them after a few months of living here (even though my car did die on the side of the road on the first day of school).

Regis does a fantastic job making sure their students feel comfortable. At the beginning of the semester, our class was divided into anatomy lab groups based on our personality and learning types.  This was the most beneficial part of first semester—I was able to take the data from my results and use this to understand how I learn and how I communicate with my classmates and professors (they are surprisingly accurate…and I love personality tests!).  Also, our groups were formed with students of different learning styles; this worked out wonderfully, despite what you might think.  I am a student who doesn’t necessarily like to take on leadership positions.  Luckily, I was in a group where a few students would facilitate how we would go about dissecting or starting a project.  A bonus of spending an inordinate amount of time with a cadaver and my group is that now I have five other students I can go to for anything and feel comfortable working with.

Because of the relaxed learning environment we had in my anatomy group, anatomy became my favorite course of first semester.  The intricate detail and vast amount of material from Cliff, our professor, made it a fun challenge for me and made me determined to work hard to learn as much as I could.  Dissecting was also a new challenge; I think working in groups made it much more doable, though, and we were able to learn from each other.  My biggest piece of advice is to figure out your strengths within the group are and to stick to them when you work together.

Overall, first semester had some kinks in it, but the professors and fellow students really helped out.  I’m looking forward to going to classes with my classmates and learning new material that will build on the fundamentals we learned last semester.

Coming from another career: Meet Katie Ragle


I used to doubt whether or not I could hack it in PT school. I have a degree in broadcasting and digital media with minors in editing and publishing and theatre. I once had the hopes of a career in public relations and worked for a few years before realizing that I need to do something that I’m actually passionate about. I quit my job, took the prerequisites for PT school, and applied to several schools around the country. I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, and attended undergrad in Ohio, and my husband and I were ready for a new adventure.

When I arrived on campus at Regis for my interview, I could tell that it would be different than other interviews I had encountered. Faculty and current students welcomed all those who were interviewing and encouraged us to ask our probing questions that the website doesn’t reveal. The entire interview day was incredibly people-focused. Everyone with whom I spoke emphasized how much people matter at Regis. They continually stressed that faculty do everything they can to help students thrive. I heard many times, “We start with 80 students in the class, and we want to finish with 80. We don’t want to weed people out. We want them to succeed.” As someone who has never taken advanced science classes and only took the minimum prerequisites to apply to PT school, I reveled at the thought of having people who would come alongside me if I needed additional help with classes.

After my tour of the campus and discussions with current students, I started to picture myself at Regis, but I wanted to see how my faculty interview went to verify all of the wonderful things that the students claimed about them. It didn’t disappoint. When I sat down in my interview with one of the predominant faculty members in the program, her first question didn’t deal with my GRE score or observation hours. She looked at me and asked, “So, how does your husband feel about your going to PT school? You’re going to need his support over the next few years. We don’t want to break up marriages.” We talked more about school-life balance, and she encouraged me that it would be worth it. She wasn’t trying to sell me on Regis, but she sure did.

After I was accepted to Regis, I wondered if the program would be as people-focused as the interview. It was. It terrified me to think that I would be a fish out of water surrounded by exercise science and kinesiology majors, but around 40% of the students in our class are career changers like me. Those who do have more of a science background are more than willing to help fill in the gaps for those of us who need it. Our class is more collaborative than I could have ever hoped for. Rather than competing with each other, we share study guides freely. We call our nationally recognized professors by their first name. Are the academics rigorous? Absolutely. PT school is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I know that I’m not alone, and that’s how I know I made the right choice in Regis.

Good luck in all your applications and interviews! Don’t be nervous; you’ll do great!


P.S. On my first day of class, the professor who interviewed me ran up to me, gave me a hug, and told me how happy she was to see me. I get to have her for a class this semester. How cool is that?

Transitioning to PT school: Meet Chris Lew

Christopher Lew

Hometown: Eugene, OR

Undergrad: University of Portland

Fun fact: I have a whistle reminiscent of various fairy tale soundtracks…or so I’m told.


On the first semester and transitioning into graduate school:

First semester of PT school: check. Reflecting on how PT school has been thus far will now, hopefully, be more objective following a month of winter break and relaxation (thank goodness no one asked me how it was going in the middle of finals week). To sum up how the first semester was, I would say that it was definitely challenging and frustrating at times but, overall, it was better than expected. Despite the initial fears that I –as well as many of my peers– had at the beginning of the semester of having to remediate classes or, even worse, failing out of PT school before even really getting started, I survived with a little bit (read: a lot) of hard work, determination and nights far below the recommended hours of sleep.

My favorite class of the first semester was our Biomechanics and Kinesiology class; it consisted largely of applied anatomy and I could easily see how it related directly to our practice as physical therapists. I would talk to second and third years who would mention roll and slide when doing manipulations so I knew what we were learning was valuable. However, the great thing, in my opinion, about Regis is that all of our classes, in one way or another, directly relate to our practice. Whether it’s learning how to measure vital signs in MAP I, review PT literature in Critical Inquiry or palpate the piriformis in Anatomy, it’s all relevant. It’s remarkable, really, to look at how much we’ve learned in three short months of PT school. I remember practicing palpation on my boyfriend the day before our exam and thinking how cool it was that I could name practically every bony prominence and major superficial artery, vein and nerve on the human body. Just thinking of how much we are capable of learning in such a short period of time gives me motivation and the desire to want to learn and do more so that I can become a better physical therapist.

For those considering PT school, I’ll say that it’s similar to undergraduate education; however, there are a few pretty significant differences. To start off, you will be in class a lot more than you were in undergrad. As a double major in college, I mostly took the maximum number of credits allowed and still managed to have whole or half days off each semester. In PT school, be prepared for long days of lectures and labs from 8AM to 5PM at least a few times a week. As far as workload/intensity, I would say that PT school is definitely more difficult—although not unbearably so—than undergrad. Given that it’s a doctorate program, a lot more is expected than simply skimming the surface of the material. You will spend entire days studying and preparing for exams and assignments, and oftentimes will have to begin preparing days or weeks in advance, rather than hours. However, in the end, the formula for survival/success is essentially the same: dedicate yourself to your education, be and stay motivated and routinely give yourself a break to prevent burnout and preserve the aforementioned qualities.

Just like any new major endeavor in life, there will be some bumps in the road when starting PT school. I think one key thing for anyone starting PT school is to acknowledge and appreciate what method of studying works best for that individual. It took me a couple of weeks to get into the groove of being back in school, and those first few weeks were some of the roughest I’ve had in a long time. Nevertheless, once I learned how to study for Anatomy, prioritize my workload and juggle multiple classes and commitments at once, things got a lot smoother. Oh, and one last thing: be kind to your classmates and help each other out. These are people you will be spending practically every day with for the next three years, so you might as well be friends. I’m grateful for the fact that I (objectively) have some of the kindest and most genuine classmates I could ask for. I can count on multiple people sharing their study guides before an exam as well as being willing to help teach me something I’m struggling with in one of our classes. Having a community of peers who experience the same joys and pains of school is probably the most valuable thing for me in times of distress as well as celebration. And it’s pretty awesome to think that in a short 2.5 years we’ll be walking down the same aisle as all we graduate from Regis  together.