By Kate Hunger
Kevin Hamilton was just 4 years old when he started taking dance classes in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. He accepted his first professional job with the Milwaukee Ballet after high school graduation and went on to dance with the Cincinnati Ballet and the Dayton Ballet. But along the way, injuries prompted him to consider making a career switch that allowed him to focus on movement from an entirely different perspective: physical therapy.
“My own injuries and watching my colleagues rehab after injury got me interested in how the body moves, and I basically went from body movement being an expression of art to body movement being a necessity for how we experience life,” he said.
Now a third-year student in the physical therapy doctoral program at UT Health San Antonio, Hamilton received a 2021 Scholarship of Excellence Award from the Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP).
In his letter nominating Hamilton for the scholarship, David Henzi, EdD, associate dean for student affairs in the School of Health Professions, praised Hamilton’s dedication to leadership and community service. Hamilton is president of both the 2021-2022 Student Government Association at UT Health San Antonio and the ASAHP–SA chapter and serves as treasurer of the Texas Student Physical Therapy Association. He was one of 10 students to complete the first Student Leadership Development Program sponsored by the Texas Society of Allied Health Professions, and he was a co-recipient of a UT Health San Antonio Community Service and Learning grant for “Tango Together,” an adaptive dance program for people with dementia and their caregivers.
“Kevin is skilled as a student and is passionate about helping his fellow students succeed,” Dr. Henzi said.
Receiving the scholarship is an honor, Hamilton said.
“I think a lot of students work really hard,” he said. “I do feel fortunate that the efforts I put in as a student and in extracurricular endeavors are being recognized. I like to use this momentum to help to try to improve things for other students and students in the future.”
It’s not uncommon for PT students with their own sports injury background to gravitate toward orthopaedics and sports medicine, said Hamilton, noting that his clinical rotations have expanded his own area of interest when it comes to specialties within the profession. Hamilton’s current rotation is in the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital, and his previous rotation was in an outpatient orthopaedic setting.
“I have not totally ruled out (orthopaedics and sports medicine), but I also find it really rewarding to work with older adults,” he said. “I think from the sports medicine side of things it’s about returning back to your full function — running faster, throwing farther and kicking harder. But it’s also pretty significant to have someone be able to safely ambulate, prevent falls and improve function to get to where they need to be.”