HANCEVILLE, Ala. — When Dr. Andrea Johnson of Huntsville enrolled in classes at Wallace State Community College in 1997, she already had a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and wellness. However, after speaking with a friend who had graduated from the physical therapist assistant program at Wallace State, she decided to apply to the program as a pathway to reach her goal of becoming a physical therapist.
“My initial expectation was low,” she admitted. “I had already attended a four-year college and earned my B.S. Wallace was simply a steppingstone to get me to the next level. However, once there, I was drawn in by the atmosphere and the other amenities the college had to offer. I made friends and enjoyed the aspects of college life, such as attending ballgames, going to the gym, studying at the library and enjoying the campus.”
At her instructor’s urging, she also joined the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), an organization that represents and promotes the profession of physical therapy. This led to a string of leadership roles that continue to this day. Her first leadership position came as the president of the Physical Therapist Assistant Special Interest Group in 2000, two years after graduating from Wallace State. That evolved into other roles with the Alabama PTA where she’s served as APTA house delegate, APTA PTA caucus delegate, secretary and chief delegate and president in 2016. She is currently serving in an advisory role for APTA Alabama.
After graduating from Wallace State, Johnson took her first job as a PTA in Jacksonville before she and her husband Bill moved to Birmingham and she began working part–time at UAB Hospital while she prepared to enter the Physical Therapy program to earn her doctorate, which she did in 2010. The couple moved to Hunstville in early 2011, where she practices at Nesin Therapy Services as Clinical Director of the Madison location.
Dr. Johnson said her time at Wallace provided her with a strong background in physical therapy and helped her build professional relationships she maintains to this day.
“My time at Wallace State taught me the concept of lifelong learning, and that I not only wanted to graduate and become a PTA, but to be the best PTA, and later the PT, I could be,” she said. “Alina Adams had high expectations of her students, and I am glad that I was able to learn from her. I highly respected her and later in my professional career, I called her a colleague and friend.”
Dr. Johnson visits campus to speak to the PTA students. “I always enjoy the opportunity to share my journey with them. Some of the other instructors are still there and it is great to see them again year after year.”
This is one in a series of spotlights and events to be featured in April as Wallace State celebrates national Community College Month. Visit www.wscccalumni.org/ccmonth21 for more information.