WOC In PT: Anietie Ukpe-Wallace, SPT
Welcome! Today, for the Women of Color in Physical Therapy series, we are featuring Anietie Ukpe-Wallace, SPT. Anietie, also known as Tita, has had a life-long fascination with the human body and its inner workings. Beginning with a formal introduction to movement in college, she has continued that journey ever since. As a yoga teacher of 8 years in the surrounding areas of Oakland, CA her practice morphed from one of structure and ego to one of humility and independent thinking. After her own struggles surrounding her pelvic floor, she has grown a love for learning and understanding this part of the body that is rarely talked about and sometimes even misunderstood. She will be graduating with a Doctorate degree in physical therapy this summer, is in the completion stages of becoming a Women’s Health Coach and is also the host of the podcast, The Masterful Art of Self-Care. Without further ado, let’s meet Tia!
What moment made you decide to pursue PT?
I was recently married and had been teaching yoga for about 5 or six years at that time and trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I was ready for a new challenge but unsure what I wanted to do or how I was going to find out. I put my question out to the universe and truly believe that by doing that, it helped provide me with an answer. I had been teaching Yoga Tune Up for awhile and around the time I had the questions, I had two yoga students who were new to my class ask if I was a PT. They said that much of what I was teaching was similar to what they had done in PT in the past. I had never really heard of physical therapy or even considered it. So I went and researched what a PT does and immediately knew that this was what I wanted to do next.
Was there a certain challenge you had to overcome as a WOC in PT school and/or at a professional setting and how did you overcome it?
I don’t believe that I faced too many challenges in PT school since there were a few other WOC in my cohort, so did not feel too isolated. I would say that the big challenges for me were during my last two clinical internships. One was in North Texas (I am from the Bay Area) and the political climate made it a very interesting, enlightening and humbling time. My other challenge during my last internship was treating a handful of white, middle aged men during my 8-week rotation and having to prove myself since I felt the skepticism and doubt on their faces when they met me for the first time during the initial evaluations. I had faced this as a yoga teacher as well and knew how to handle the challenge, which was to exude confidence, allow for lots of opportunities for listening and display humility.
What advice would you give a fellow WOC trying to break into the PT profession?
My advice would consist of not listening to the naysayers who will say you are not capable, smart enough, or driven enough to be able to get into this profession. Being a PT student takes a lot of hard work, determination and focus and I feel if you have those things and are most of all passionate about this practice and helping others, you will find the right place for you in this profession.
What woman/women do you you draw inspiration from?
I feel that I draw inspiration from a lot of women so it is hard to narrow it down, but on the top of my list is my mom. I feel that she is the person who has helped inspire me to grow when I was a yoga teacher and now as a PT student. I have seen how much she had sacrificed for my family, her hard work and determination to make sure we had the education we needed and also how being a parent and through her profession (nursing) took a toll on her body and I am inspired to then help other women who face the same challenges.
In addition to being awesome, what do you like to do in your free time?
I am a mom to a 4.5 year old, so most of my time is spent with her, but when I am not being a mom or a student, I enjoy hiking new trails, reading books on my huge reading list and have a new found love for aerial/circus arts, so have been dabbling in lyra, rope, straps and pole.
For the new readers, where can we find you on social media?
Thank you so much to Tia for sharing her experience being a woman of color in physical therapy! Be sure to follow her at the social media link posted above. :)
If you are a woman of color involved in the physical therapy world, whether you are just starting as a pre-PT or a practicing PT, I would love to feature you in my WOC in PT series! Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for the next series feature, we have an amazingly diverse group in the mix!
Peace, love & blessings,