When Julie Lindner '95 discovered that her son, Tiegen '24, had been accepted into the Physical Therapy (PT) program at the University of South Dakota, she knew he was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime, just like she did nearly thirty years ago.

"The program was new to the state of South Dakota when I joined, and as a non-traditional student, there was a risk in starting a non-accredited program. But it was a risk that was totally worth it," Julie recalled. "I remember being there when the accreditation came, and it was so special. It's been amazing to see how far the program has come since then."

With a front-row seat to the growth of USD, Julie experienced the magic of the PT program from a different perspective as Tiegen navigated his way through it, from clinicals to hands-on opportunities within the classroom.

"Every building and every classroom has equipment that is intentional and integral to our learning," Tiegen said. "There is a purpose for everything, and that's something we take with us into our professional careers."

The 2024 PT class from USD

Tiegen went on to mention the special moments he and his mom got to share, though Julie said there was a noticeable difference in their experiences.

"The progression of the program has really solidified the value it brings to the state," Julie said. "Seeing all of the therapists that go on to support the workforce is amazing."

Inspired by this support, Julie and her family started the Pederson/Lindner Family Physical Therapy Scholarship Endowment. Established in 2023 as a way to aid students within the PT program, the endowment is awarded annually in July to a third-year PT students selected by the PT Awards and Scholarship Committee.

"That third year of PT school is a weird middle ground because you are out doing clinicals, not taking classes, and usually aren't in one place long enough to sign a traditional lease," Tiegen said. "So being able to reward students for their excellence, leadership and professionalism in and out of the classroom with this scholarship gives them a little boost for rent, food, travel, continuing education courses, etc."

You know, these students are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and we get to help them get there," Julie said.

"You know, these students are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and we get to help them get there," Julie said. - Julie Lindner '95

As a parent, Julie saw firsthand the impact the PT program and it's resources had on Tiegen, but as a student, Tiegen immersed himself in the program and found a home away from home, noting how unique the program is for all students.

"Knowing there is always an open-door policy with teachers who want you to succeed and continuously look out for you is really special," Tiegen said. "Their motto 'The science of healing and the art of compassion' drew me in and the faculty exemplify that in everything they do.'

"As a parent, the variety of professional programs made available for the students is both comforting and impressive," Julie said. "With the help of the PT staff, we identified the most important aspects of these programs and how we could best support them - support that will live on long after Tiegen and I have left."

To learn more about the Physical Therapy program, its students and how to support them, click here.