Georgia College Front Page

Under 30: Stephanie Pope

Age: 29  //  

Occupation: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta  //  

Major at GC: Exercise Science


Tell me a little bit about why you came to Georgia College.

My dad has ties to Milledgeville, and I had just moved to Georgia from North Carolina. Honestly, I was thinking I was going back to North Carolina, but he showed me some pictures online and I had a friends going to Georgia College, so I went for a tour. I knew then that Georgia College was the only place I wanted to go. I loved it immediately.


Do you have a favorite memory?

It's hard to pick. I would say, and this is going to sound silly, but I’m still friends with the girls that I met there—we still get together and hang out—but my favorite memories always involve them and just hanging out in the apartment, staying up late laughing and goofing off. We had so much fun while we were there, I didn’t want to leave.


Favorite spot on campus?

I always loved Front Campus. And I especially loved just being about to sit on the lawn and study.


Did you have any specific mentors?

Yes, Doc (Mike Martino), who is in charge of the exercise science program. He always pushed us to be better and to get as much learning out of every class we took. Not only do I consider him a mentor, but he had a huge impact on me as well. He confirmed that physical therapy was what I wanted to do as my career. He definitely played a role in guiding me to be successful and confirmed that I picked the right career path.


What is it like working at a children’s hospital?

In outpatient, we see kids 0-21, and there are hour–long treatment sessions or two-hour evaluations. I treat children with cerebral palsy, brain injuries, spinal cord injury, stroke, developmental delay, torticollis, orthopedic impairments, Autism and a large variety of other diagnoses as well.


Any stories about a particularly impactful moment?

In my first job, I saw a patient in remission from brain cancer. Unfortunately, ultimately we lost her, but she shaped me with her spirit. She always was determined and attacked everything with such life and excitement. I will always remember her and she will always have an impact on how I interact with my patients.

I was the CHOA PT resident last year, and on my inpatient rotation, I worked with a small baby during his stay at the hospital. After he discharged from the hospital, his mom would come back for other appointments and make a point to stop by and say "hi" to me, as well as let me know how he was doing. Anytime a patient comes back to visit is always so meaningful and is another reason I love my job.


And how is he doing now?

He is doing great!


If you had one piece of advice to give an exercise science student, what would it be?

My advice would be to never give up. You may get told no, when, say you are applying to PT school or grad school, but if you know that that’s what you want to do, don’t give up. Seek out mentors, seek out opportunities to improve, challenge yourself. If that’s what you’re truly passionate about, always come back to that.


If you could trade places with anyone in the world for a day, who would it be and why?

I think I would trade places with one of my patients. Just to get a real, true perspective of what they go through on a daily basis.


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