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Heartland Physical Therapy Assistant student gifts scholarship award to classmate

December 14, 2020

A Heartland Community College Physical Therapy Assistant program student has taken the name of a scholarship she recently received to heart – and has given the scholarship to a classmate. 

Abigail Jones was announced the recipient of the Continuing the Circle of Kindness scholarship from the Bloomington nonprofit group of the same name. 

OSF St. Joseph Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA) Kellie Rumps is a member of the board for the Continue the Circle of Kindness organization in Bloomington, and was instrumental in developing the scholarship for Heartland’s PTA and Radiography students. 

“We had so many wonderful applicants,” said Kellie. “But, the decision to give the award to Abigail was unanimous. In her application essay, she expressed that she herself did not need the financial assistance, but if selected, she planned to pay it forward to a classmate.” 

After being named recipient of the scholarship by Kellie and Tania Seibly, the nonprofit’s founder, Abigail, with the permission of the organization, gifted the prize to fellow classmate Sansanee Pattapongwat. 

“Sansanee is an amazingly brilliant person,” said Abigail.  “I really admire her. With the amount she has had to work to provide for her son on top of schoolwork and clinicals – I can only imagine the burden that is there. Also, as an immigrant, she doesn’t have the family support here to depend on like a lot of us do. I’m more than happy to gift this scholarship to her and contribute to someone who’s living out an American Dream.” 

The $2,000 scholarship is a one-time award given to a student currently enrolled in a medical program for physical therapy or radiography. The award is presented at the end of the student’s first year in the program. 

“The fact that she intended on paying it forward made selecting her a no-brainer,” Tania added. “She embodies the uplifting ideals of Continuing the Circle of Kindness and, especially with how challenging this past year has been, we need to be doing acts of kindness like these for others.” 

An immigrant from Thailand, full-time worker, and mother to a second grader, Sansanee also has an undergraduate degree in French and an Associate’s in Culinary Technology. 

“I decided to continue my education in Heartland’s PTA program because I want to apply my background and knowledge to benefit others,” Sansanee said. “I’m honored to be awarded this scholarship and I’m very happy, not because of the award, but because of the love and support I felt from my classmate Abigail who chose to pay it forward to me. Her act of kindness really demonstrates how much we all care for one another in the PTA program. I wish we could all share the scholarship money.” 

The Heartland Community College Physical Therapy Assistant program prepares students to perform various assessments, exercises and treatments under the supervision of a physical therapist. Students complete 23 hours of general education coursework followed by 49 hours of technical and clinical education courses. PTAs find employment in a variety of settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, nursing homes and home health agencies as well as sports and fitness facilities.

Written by: Steve Fast